Who is Considered Black in Brazil?
In Brazil, a national mandate to give more jobs to Black people has led to commissions of judges who look at you and decide if your skin is dark enough — your hair curly enough — to qualify. And this is a system set up to make Brazil less racist! Spending time with Brazilians, though, I learned that this is shocking for an entirely different reason than I would have expected.
For Affirmative Action, Brazil Sets Up Controversial Boards To Determine Race
When the test scores came out, Lucas Siqueira, 27, was really excited. His high mark on the Foreign Service exam earned him a coveted position at Brazil’s highly competitive Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“They hire 30 diplomats a year and thousands of people sign up,” he says in fluent English from his home in Brasilia, the capital.
It was, he says, a great day.
Siqueira considers himself to be mixed race, known in Brazil as pardo, or brown.
“I consider myself to be a very typical Brazilian and I’ve always been very proud of it. In my dad’s family, my grandfather is black, my grandmother has Indian and white roots. And on my mother’s side they are mostly white, mostly Portuguese,” he said.
How he defines himself matters because he was required to self-identify on his application. In 2014, the government introduced a quota system for federal jobs. The affirmative action regulations require that 20 percent of all government positions be filled by people of color — either black or mixed race.