In the final episode of Black in Latin America, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. travels to Brazil, the second largest black country in the world, and the “post-racial” dystopia that BRA seeks to emulate.
(1) 4.8 million slaves were brought to Brazil from Africa – a number that dwarfs the number of slaves brought to the United States. Almost half of all slaves brought to the New World were brought to Brazil. More slaves were also brought to Jamaica and Haiti than the Northern American colonies.
(2) The plantation system came to the Deep South via South Carolina which was colonized by Barbadians who built the sugar industry in Barbados on the Brazilian model.
(3) There are 75 million people of African descent in Brazil. There are 42 million African-Americans in the United States.
(4) Brazil was the last country in the Western hemisphere to abolish slavery.
(5) There are over 100 racial categories of blackness in Brazil.
(6) Black slaves weren’t treated as harshly in Dixie as in Brazil. The Portuguese controlled the slave trade in Central Africa. The distance between Brazil and Congo is also much shorter. As a result, slaves were cheaper in Brazil than North America.
(7) Salvador in Bahia used to be one of the richest cities in the world.
(8) The lack of Portuguese women promoted miscegenation in Brazil.
(9) Race is not a barrier to miscegenation and bastardization. Marriage is the real barrier. In Brazil and Mexico, racial bastards were recognized as the legitimate offspring of Portuguese and Spanish fathers, whereas in the English colonies mulatto bastards did not inherit the legal status of the father – all mulattoes were counted as black, there were no shades of gray.
Note: Sometime this fall, OD will be taking a more in depth look at the free negro in Brazil and other countries in South America.