But... what about poor whites?  - 11/19/2021 - Tabata Amaral

“In Brazil there is no racism”. What most shocks in this sentence, said a year ago by the vice president, is not the position occupied by its author, but that this is the opinion of many Brazilians. On this Black Awareness Day, I share some of the questions I receive daily about the topic in the context of education, so that speeches like Mourão’s do not find echo in our society.

1) What does racism have to do with education? Blacks and browns make up 71.7% of young people who drop out of school. Black students have a school performance equivalent to two years less of learning. Illiteracy is three times higher among blacks. Not to mention access to day care centers, the effects of the pandemic, presence in higher education…

2) But… what about poor white people? They also suffer from the low quality of education, but, structurally, they are less affected than blacks. A survey by Iede showed that, among students with the same socioeconomic level, blacks have lower academic performance than whites, as a consequence of racism. That’s why racial quotas within social quotas, for example, are so important.

3) But quotas do not solve the root of the problem… It is true that quotas alone are not enough, but they are an essential temporary instrument in accelerating the inclusion of blacks in universities. As long as they prove effective, they must be maintained and expanded to, for example, postgraduate studies.

4) And what can we do with concrete in addition to the quotas? As of 2023, as a result of my amendment to the new Fundeb, the federal government will give financial incentives to educational systems that reduce racial inequalities. There are many good practices to replicate, such as: savings for low-income high school students that encourage them to stay in school; discussions about racism in schools —according to the All for Education, less than half of schools have projects on racism; and training courses that prepare education professionals to deal with the topic.

A survey by the Sonho Grande Institute, conducted in Pernambuco, also showed that full-time schools managed, for the first time, to eliminate the income gap at the beginning of their careers between white and black students, which demonstrates that a more holistic education and that prepare for life is even more effective in tackling structural inequalities.

In a country where the size of our children’s dreams still depends on their skin color, it seems impossible and ineffective to think about the anti-racist fight disregarding the role of education or to think about the fight for education disregarding racism.

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