Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Brazil Adopts Affirmative Action & The "Brown Paper Bag Test"
Last night on PBS's 'Wide Angle" was the premier of "Brazil In Black And White"
Wide Angle Web page
The show focused on the racial debate in Brazil as efforts are made to get the "brown skinned people" more integrated into the higher level economy and social strata.
Brazil is a heavily mixed race country. One kid that looks White can have a brother or sister that has brown skin. The sharp racial distinctions that are present in the United States simply don't fit down there. At the same time clear evidence of both the social preference for White/European look in hiring practices and media advertisements as well as positions within the government and the university system were provided for the objective observer to see that there was a problem.
The social activists working for change are pushing for "Affirmative Action". They want to reserve 20% of all freshman seats for brown skinned people. During the admissions process everyone who is applying for the "Black slots" must be photographed behind a bright colored background for a committee of judges to evaluate if they are indeed "Black" They also flew in 2 NAACP "Affirmative Action" lawyers into the country to give them advice. From these two we were lead to believe that A.A. has been successful in the United States and has lead to the growth of the Black middle class. They said nothing about the current dissolution of many education based A.A. programs.
All through the show I could not help but notice the OBVIOUS that no one else had mentioned. Brazil, which is seeking to increase the educational and economic opportunities for its people NEEDS MORE UNIVERSITIES and EDUCATIONAL OUTLETS so that there people can develop. When you have 20,000 people competing for only 2,000 slots at the federal university in Brazillia - indeed there is a problem. Upon failing one year certain students continued to take the admissions test year after year as they hoped to get into school and set their life on a different path.
It was clear to me that this was a RESOURCE ALLOCATION PROBLEM that is showing itself as a RACIAL PROBLEM. Several decades ago the government of Brazil sought to develop the inner regions of the country and thus they built the city of Brazillia and made it the nation's capital. Now it is time for them to strike out and create a larger UNIVERSITY SYSTEM. In addition to more full service universities they also need to have a junior college system as well as community college/trade schools.
The second unspoken obvious that I noted is that THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM IS GOVERNMENT OPERATED AND FREE TO THE STUDENTS. No one would dare mention the possible link between this resource constraint and the lack of facilities. No doubt the argument will be that with the government bearing the burden - the poor are able to go to school. Let's compare this to the United States. Aside from the elite schools which also have a high admissions demand - we have abundant second choices so that no one has to sit out of school as they wait to get into the main school. Most importantly the debt burden is placed on the back of the CONSUMER OF EDUCATION rather than all upon the government which then is resource constrained. This is a simple matter of "credit". The fact that there is a distributed credit load means that more universities and other schools can operate without the confinement of the "central planning" mode as they have in Brazil. In the USA the government provides grants and guarantees student loans.
If Brazil is serious in becoming an economic powerhouse via the education of more of its people, regardless of their race then they need to adopt a different strategy that will allow more people's DEMANDS for education to be expressed.
Unfortunately, as usual, the Civil Rights industry tends to focus on the "racial fracture" rather than stepping back and considering the big picture flaw that needs changing in order to allow the flow to take place unimpeded by secondary racial provincialism.