Talking About Brazil With Lilia Schwarcz

“I think all kinds of racism are equally terrible. I am just saying that the Brazilian kind is different. For example, in 2000 we completed a survey research project that consisted of three seemingly simple questions: Are you prejudiced in any way? 97 percent of those surveyed answered no. Do you know anyone who is prejudiced? 99 percent answered yes. If you had said yes to the second question, you were asked to describe the relationship you have with this person. We did not ask for names, but people often gave them, naming friends and relatives. We concluded that every Brazilian thinks he is an island of racial democracy surrounded by an ocean of racism.”

– Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, a professor of anthropology at the University of São Paulo, is known in the United States as the author of The Spectacle of the Races: Scientists, Institutions, and the Race Question in Brazil, 1870-1930 (English edition, 1999) and The Emperor’s Beard: Dom Pedro II and the Tropical Monarchy of Brazil (2004).

Read the rest of a short interview with her.


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