Race, colour, and skin colour in Brazil
Antonio Sérgio Alfredo Guimarães, Race, colour, and skin colour in Brazil, FMSH-PP-2012-04, july 2012.
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Antonio Sérgio Alfredo Guimarães is a Chair Professor of Sociology at the University of São Paulo, Researcher 1A of CNPq, and Full Researcher at Centro de Estudos da Metrópole, supported by FAPESP (Fundação de Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo). He is currently Titulaire de la Chaire brésilienne de sciences sociales Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme.
He does research on racial, national and class identities, Black social movements, affirmative actions, and Black intellectuals. He has published among others books: Preconceito Racial – Modos, Temas, Tempos. São Paulo, Ed. Cortez, 2008; Classes, raças e democracia, São Paulo, Editora 34, 2002; Racismo e anti-racismo no Brasil, São Paulo, Editora 34, 1999; 2ª. Edição 2005.
The contemporary anti-racist zeal is banning the word ‘race’ of our everyday vocabulary. This practice was sanctioned by UNESCO in the postwar years and is now widespread in the press in Brazil. ‘Skin colour’ became the morally correct way to refer to physical differences before covered by the idea of ‘race’. Such a development would be inconsequential if the contemporary social sciences had not included in our vocabulary ‘skin colour’ as a natural concept, morally neutral. In this article, taking a Brazilian perspective, where ‘colour’ was historically constructed as a variant of ‘race’, I try to show the deception of such a naturalistic practice, and suggest that the classification of people by ‘skin colour’, not only has its foundation in the idea of race, but tends to bipolarity, unlike the Brazilian concept of ‘colour’, which is based on the ideology of whitening.
race, racism, anti-racism, skin colour, whitening, Brazil