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Jerry Dãvila, a professor of Brazilian history and the director of the Lemann Institute of Brazilian Studies at the University of Illinois, will speak about race relations and affirmative action in Brazil on Tuesday in Bentley Hall as part of the Latin American Studies' annual lecture "Rethinking Brazilian Race Relations in the Era of Affirmative."

Jerry Dávila aims to spark a conversation on campus about Brazilian race relations

The Latin American Studies program at Ohio University will host professor Jerry Dávila to speak on Brazilian racial inequalities and affirmative action

Students may be surprised to find out Brazil and the United States have similar issues when it comes to racial inequalities.

The Latin American Studies program will bring in Jerry Dávila, a professor of Brazilian History and director of the Lemann Institute for Brazilian Studies at the University of Illinois, to start a conversation about these issues on campus with “Rethinking Brazilian Race Relations in the Era of Affirmative Action.”

“I want people to take away a sense that the more critically — from the U.S. — we engage in the fundamental history, not just race relations and not just in Brazil, the better questions we can have about our experience in U.S. society,” Dávila said.

Mariana Dantes, director of the Latin American Studies program, said she has noticed her students are more willing to engage in a conversation about racial issues when the subject is not about the U.S.

“I think that discussing race is very important, as we’ve had several examples recently as of why people have to talk about race … think about how different ideas about people get formed and people become racialized and how that leads to discrimination, not just at a social level but at the level of institution and governments and public policy,” Dantes said.

Dantes said it will be interesting to hear Dávila speak on affirmative action in Brazil, because of its long history being represented as a racial democracy.

“This started in the early 20th century with scholars that had been in the United States during the Jim Crow era, and we’re just shocked by the racial violence in the United States, the laws of segregation and Brazil never actually had laws of segregation,” Dantes said. “There is a history of racial violence (in Brazil), but nothing like the systematic lynchings and things like that.”

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However, Dávila said Brazil actually has tremendous racial inequality that is, in some cases, worse than the U.S. After a study done in 1988, people started to realize that there were present racial inequalities going on in Brazil, he added.

“For me, as someone who studies race-relations in the United States as well as affirmative action, I’m interested to hear his perspective on the use of quotas from a Brazilian context,” Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, associate director of the Multicultural Center, said.

It is an important thing to be aware of in the increasing limits to affirmative action or race-conscious admission policies in the United States. However, at the same time this is happening in the U.S., Brazil has increased its adoption of race-conscious policies, Dávila said.

“Latin American countries are on different paths of a shared journey of the United States, from colonies to nations to rhetorical experiences like immigration, emancipation of slavery, industrialization, all of the major factors that drive U.S. history and shape U.S. society are present in their own ways every place in Latin America,” Dávila said.

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