In Brazil, a mix of racial openness and exclusion

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 18, 2013 at 3:11 am •  Published: March 18, 2013
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Brazil recently instituted affirmative action programs to help boost the numbers of black and mixed-race college students, though both groups continue to be proportionally underrepresented at the nation's universities. They made up just 10 percent of college students in 2001, and now account for 35 percent. Those numbers probably will continue to rise because of a new law that reserves half the spots in federal universities for high school graduates of public schools and distributes them according to states' racial makeup.

Still, black faces remain the exception at elite colleges.

Nubia de Lima, a 29-year-old black producer for Globo television network, said she experiences racism on a daily basis, in the reactions and comments of strangers who are constantly taking her for a maid, a nanny or a cook, despite her flair for fashion and pricey wardrobe.

"People aren't used to seeing black people in positions of power," she said. "It doesn't exist. They see you are black and naturally assume that you live in a favela (hillside slum) and you work as a housekeeper."

She added that upper middle-class black people like herself are in a kind of limbo, too affluent and educated to live in favelas but still largely excluded from high-rent white neighborhoods.

"Here it's a racism of exclusion," de Lima said.