Visitors to Brazil frequently comment on the apparently harmonious race relations in a country where half the population is black. Yet the persistent and extreme social stratification by skin color has exploded the dominant myth of Brazilian "racial democracy," of Brazil as a color-blind paradise in the tropics. As democracy has taken root, Brazilians have become more self-critical, and in 2001 the government instituted a policy of affirmative action for Afro-Brazilians in university admissions. This reform introduced an incentive for blacks to identify themselves as such. The scholar-activists writing in Brazil's New Racial Politics find that not all Afro-Brazilians vote for black candidates but that those who embrace their blackness tend to do so, suggesting that blacks may begin to be better represented in electoral politics. Certainly, the activist nongovernmental organizations and black hip-hop artists examined here very much hope that the quality and diversity of Brazilian democracy will continue their forward march.
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