priority of my administration will be
of wealth and quality education.”
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
a result of the political actions of the Black peoples’
and the Black women’s movements, Brazil experienced an
intense debate about racism in the last four years, in all
of its public spheres— Legislative, Executive, and
by the anti-racist wave provoked by the Conference Against
Racism, in South Africa, the government of Fernando Henrique
Cardoso initiated some affirmative action policies in the
Ministry of Agrarian Development. Beyond this, other
initiatives, such quotas for Black students in universities,
were just starting.
the election of president Lula, a series of measures were
taken: four Black ministers were assigned to office; a
department for the promotion of racial equality was created;
Law 10.639 was approved, which included African history and
afro-Brazilian history in the curriculum of public schools;
the legal project to install university quotas was created;
and a mega-objective of reduction in racial inequalities, among others, was incorporated
into the government’s four-year plan.
of these policies are based on the demands of the Black
movement, and were discussed with activists in the fields of
education, health, and labor. Other important policies
implemented by the Lula administration were the affirmative
action program Brasil
Quilombola, which benefited rural Afro-Brazilian
communities; the Qualification
Program for Domestic Work; the Program
on Anemia; the Strategic
Program for Affirmative Action for Black Population and
AIDS; and the National
Policy for the Integral Health of the Black Population; as
well as budgetary
additions specific to affirmative action policies;
Afro-Brazilian representation in the Supreme Court; and
greater visibility of issues related to the Black population
within research institutions.
The creation of SEPPIR – the Secretary for
Promotion of Racial Equality, as well as the National Policy
Plan for the Promotion of Racial Equality, demonstrate the
level of commitment from the government towards the goal of
all of these measures have produced little impact in the
lives of the Black population, especially of Black women.
This is due, principally, to the continuous promotion of the
myth of Brazilian racial democracy, which gives the
impression that racism does not exist, and that we are a
people of mixed race who suffer social exclusion only
because of poverty.
several studies have demonstrated that racial inequality is
still a serious problem in Brazil. The government’s plan
presented by President Lula for the period between 2007 and
2010 points towards this difficulty. Racism, as a pillar
that sustains the structure of inequality, becomes more a
question of human rights, according to the text extracted
from the plan:
will continue to be implemented that guarantee and widen
mechanisms to combat racism and homophobia, for protection
of the elderly, and to overcome discrimination against
people with disabilities, with special emphasis dedicated to
the rights of children and adolescents. This dimension of
social inclusion is fundamental to the Government Policy on
government’s effort to combat racism, there is still an
area that needs more attention, which is public security.
This area has not been contemplated in an effective way by
the government, so Black people continue to be the main
victims of urban violence. Other areas that need more
attention are violence against Black women, and abortion
rights. There is a need to support a broader debate on these
issues with different sectors of society, with the goal of
revising Brazilian legislation.
of Public security for the black Population
Public security policies are still marked by
institutionalized racism, expressed through the homicide of
thousands of Black people, especially youth, and through the
growing wave of violence against women. Several studies show
that Black youth, between 15 and 29 years old, are the
principal victims of police violence. A study by CESeC –
Center for the Studies of Security and Citizenship, in 2001,
revealed that 100 homicides occur per 100,000 habitants
between the ages of 15 and 24.
When it comes to Black youth between the ages of 20
and 22, the rate of homicide rises to 140 per 100,000. 
study by the Perseu Abramo Foundation— Racial
Discrimination in Brazil (2004)— reveals that 51% of
the Black population have been approached by police, and 30%
of these declared having suffered discrimination by the
White people, this number falls to 15%.
In regards to criminality, the results show that, of
murders committed against minors, 54% of the victims were
Black youth, and 33.9% were White, the remaining numbers
inserted into other racial categories. Of the prison
population, 68% of prisoners were younger than 25 years old,
and two-thirds were Black. 
study on Violence Against Children and Adolescents published
by UNICEF and the Observatory on Favelas of Rio de
Janeiro reported that, in 2000, 3,000 Black people versus
1,800 White people were assassinated by the police.
For each homicide committed against a White person,
two Black people died.
Other studies suggest similar data. However, the
Brazilian State has yet to perceive that it currently offers
the Black population the same treatment that they had during
the period of slavery: lashings and handcuffs.
In addition, the majority of Black people suffer from
poverty and lack of access to social services.
is one of the most serious causes of death among Black women
between the ages of 18 and 29. In the city of Recife,
Pernambuco state, Black women are 1.7 times more likely to
die as a consequence of violence than White women. The risk
rises to 2.4 to 1 for those between 20 and 29 years old. In
reference to the rates of homicide, Black women are
assassinated close to 40 times more than White women. In
2003, of the 2,943 deaths of women in Recife, 1,924 were
Black and 1,019 were White.
Sonia Santos, from the Secretary of Health of Recife,
affirms that “Black women are more exposed to unfavorable
situations in their homes. They live in areas that are more
exposed to violent situations.”
The risk of Black women between the ages of 20 and 29
to be killed in the city of Recife, is 9.7 times higher than
that of White women. For every 100,000 inhabitants, 21.2
Black women die versus 0.5 White women.
study points out that Black women also die more from
suicide. For every 100,000 inhabitants, 4.5 Black women
commit suicide, versus one White woman. The inequalities are
also registered in maternal death and death from AIDS.
Melkert, adjunct administrator of the United Nations Program
for Development (PNUD), in an interview to the Argentine
newspaper Clarín, stated
that “inequality in income has a strong relation to
insecurity – as much in rich countries as in poor
continued by saying that “if we observe societies with a
more equal distribution of income and resources, we see they
are more peaceful and better organized.
If we observe those areas with more instability, such
as numerous countries in Africa and the Middle East or
regions of Latin America, the social context people live in,
the lack of social institutions, unfair distribution of
wealth and lack of work opportunities – all these are
areas that cannot be disconnected from insecurity.”
Report on Human Development in Brazil 2005 – Racism,
Poverty, and Violence, published by the PNUD, revealed that
independent of the region of Brazil, and its level of
poverty, Black people are always those who are most affected
by violence. The study shows that, despite the growth of
income verified over the last decades, the percentage of
poor Black people never fell below 64%.
In addition, across all economic classes, the
proportion of Black people is inversely proportional to
wealth: as income rises, the percentage of Black people that
make up that income falls. Despite being 44.7% of the total
population, Black people make up 70% of the poorest 10%,
while making up only 16% of the richest 10%.”
to this report, the source of insecurity is the lack of
effective public policies in the fields of education,
housing, work, and other areas that allow men and women to
protect their future. The insecurity experienced by the
Black population is a result of institutionalized racism
within the Brazilian State.
Statute for Racial Equality
Statute for Racial Equality is the first attempt in Brazil
at the reparation of damages on the Black population caused
by racism, and almost 400 years of slavery.
It attempts to act as a system of laws that inhibits
human rights violations, as it is stated in the Federal
Constitution of 1988. This
set of guidelines will serve to repair racial inequalities
through the exercise of civil, political, social, cultural,
economic, and environmental rights in public policy.
having already been approved in some Congressional
commissions, including the Commission of the Constitution
and Justice – during the past seven years, the legal
project has not been approved by Congress. For the Statute
to exercise its full function of reparation, it is necessary
to invest public resources – without which this measure
will have no efficacy.