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The Workers’ Party and the Racial Agenda in 21st-Century Brazil: The Need for a New Project of the Left Against Racial Inequality

  • Joaze Bernardino-Costa
Chapter
Part of the Marx, Engels, and Marxisms book series (MAENMA)

Abstract

The ability to respond to diverse interests within government—that would translate into effective public policies—has undoubtedly marked, as far as the racial issue is concerned, the 13 years of the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers’ Party—PT) administration. As the former president used to say, ‘nunca antes na história deste país’ (‘never before in the history of this country’) have demands from the black movement been so often met as during the PT’s time in power. However, in spite of the progress made, there is every indication that a good deal more could have been accomplished in order to reverse the cycle of cumulative disadvantages to which the black population has been submitted throughout Brazil’s history and until this very day. My working hypothesis is that it was that policy of conciliation towards diverging interests that has prevented further progress in the pursuit of racial equality in Brazil.

This essay is divided into five parts, besides an introduction. The first elaborates on the program of race equality promotion inside the PT. The second briefly tackles the politics of alliances that allowed the PT to come to power. That politics has also marked the 13 years in which the party held the president’s office. The third takes into account the politics of alliances and is a reflection on how the racial agenda has been tackled under PT’s administration. We stress the work of Secretaria Especial de Políticas de Promoção da Igualdade Racial (Special Bureau for Policies Promoting Racial Equality—SEPPIR) as well as the implementation of a few racially oriented public policies. The fourth part takes into consideration discussions on the Estatuto da Igualdade Racial (‘Race Equality Statute’) in the first decade of this century. It emphasizes that the progress made regarding the race issue in the country has derived from SEPPIR’s work rather than from the importance of the race issue inside the party. In our conclusion, on the one hand, we comment on the limitations of any project of the left which does not take as its centerpiece the racial issue; on the other, we invite the elaboration of a decolonizing project of the left that takes into consideration the racial domain, as well as other aspects of domination and exploitation, as core issues for a new political project of the left.

Keywords

Workers’ Party Race Public policies Coloniality 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joaze Bernardino-Costa
    • 1
  1. 1.Sociology DepartmentUniversity of BrasíliaBrasíliaBrazil

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