"I applied to the Scholars program hoping to broaden my knowledge about the complex issue of racial classification in Brazilian federal universities. Brazil boasts its diversity, but the subtle discrimination based on skin color is still present in daily life. My goal for this project is to gather opinions from those seeking a scholarship under the Affirmative Actions quota system and understand how it has affected the issue of racial classification within the university setting. How are racial boundaries constructed both politically and socially? To what extent are they upheld by university policy and understood by applicants under the quota system? I hope to shed light on the application process and the racial classification scheme to further understand the pros and cons of such a controversial system."
Cultural Anthropology, Linguistics, and Languages.
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- Florida Bright Futures
- English Language Institute
The Dignity Project (volunteering after school), Instituto Educacional do Bairro Grande (helping students with English pronunciation in Tres Marias, Brazil).
Hobbies and Interests
- Languages, photography, and traveling.
Challenges to Affirmative Action: An Analysis of Self-identity and Skin Color in Brazil
In 2004, federal universities in Brazil adopted affirmative action policies. They were implemented to give students of Afro-Brazilian descent an equal footing in the highly competitive application process. The obstacle that quickly became apparent was the 39% self-identified “pardo” (meaning brown or mulatto) individuals who, under the new system, were turned away because they were considered “not black enough” to meet affirmative action criteria under the new quota system. As an Anthropology student, the classification of these Afro-Brazilians intrigued me. How are racial boundaries constructed both phenotyically and socially? Given that skin color is socially regarded as a continuum, who possesses the power to draw the line between Afro-Brazilians and White Brazilians, and with what right? I went to Brazil with these questions in mind, and expecting to find a new hyperawareness of racial identity as a result of the quota system. But after talking with some of the students, professors and an Afro-Brazilian activist member, I found that the answers to these questions were surprisingly straightforward. Essentially, individuals with certain phenotypic characteristics and darker skin color confront social stigma hindering their economic, academic and job opportunities. The policies are in place to remedy a historical problem. Therefore, I intend to compile what I have learned from these interviews and their interpretation of the application process, as well as consult scholarly articles that address the issue to debate the effectiveness of affirmative action policies in federal universities as a step towards social equality in Brazil. The Universidade Federal do Paraná will serve as my main case study. I will assess the need for these policies from both a social and historical standpoint.