There is a strong division of opinion in Brazil over new legislation that is about to be brought in that would establish racial quotas. The legislation would bring in supposed categories in Brazil, where people will have to state on their official documents such things as whether they are "Brazilian" or "Afro-Brazilian". This raises the question as to how one determines who belongs to which "racial" group? Until now everyone has been simply "Brazilian".
Those who are putting forward this new legislation claim it will help to combat racism. In reality it will be very divisive and will help to promote racial tensions.
Here we provide the text of an Open Letter signed by a group of 113 professors, teachers, lawyers, writers, artists and trade unionists, among them members of the Black Socialist Movement and the Esquerda Marxista tendency. It is in effect a united front of forces that are opposed to what they rightly see as a move on the part of the government that will serve to entrench racism rather than combat it.
For more information, in Portuguese, see the website of the Brazilian Black Socialist Movement.
The Federal Supreme Court of Brazil will soon pronounce on two cases of unconstitutionality (ADI 3.330 and ADI 3.197) which were brought by the National Confederation of Teaching Establishments (Confenen). The first challenges the ProUni programme (1) and the second the law of quotas in university entrance exams of the state universities of Rio de Janeiro. These cases are of historical importance, as they may well create jurisprudence concerning the constitutionality of racial quotas, not only for the financing of the degrees of higher learning offered by private institutions but also for entrance exams to public universities and, more generally, for public sector hiring decisions (concursos públicos). Further still: they could send a decisive message concerning the constitutionality of the promotion of racial laws in general.
The undersigned - intellectual workers in civil society, trade unionists, businessmen, and activists of the black people's cause and of other social movements, respectfully address the Ministers of the Federal Supreme Court that has received from the people the prerogative of guarding the Constitution, in order to offer arguments against the admissibility of racial quotas in the political and legal order of the Republic.
We point to the Federal Constitution's Article 19 which states: "It is forbidden for the Union, the States, the Federal District or the Municipalities to create distinctions among Brazilians or preferences among them". Further still, Article 208 declares that: "The duty of the State concerning education will come into effect by means of a guarantee of access to the higher levels of learning, of research, and of artistic creation, according to each one's capacities". Following the principles and guarantees of the Federal Constitution, the State Constitution of Rio de Janeiro, Article 9, § 1º, determines that: "No one shall be discriminated against, diminished or given privilege by reason of birth, age, ethnicity, race, colour, sex, marriage, rural or urban work, religion, political or philosophical convictions, physical or mental handicap, for having been in prison or for any other particularity or condition".
These words emanate from a Brazilian tradition - dominant since the abolition of slavery 120 years ago - not to condone racial laws or policies. To justify the breaking of this tradition, the proponents of racial quotas maintain that the principle of equality for everyone before the law demands that the unequal should be treated unequally. Ritually, they recite the Oração aos Moços, written by the famous nineteenth century politician and intellectual Rui Barbosa who, inspired by Aristotle, explained: "The rule of equality consists purely in parcelling out unequally the unequal, in the measure of their inequality. The true law of equality is to be found in this social inequality which is proportionate to the natural inequality." This method of treating unequally the unequal is, in fact, that which is applied with justice through certain policies such as progressive taxation and income transfer. To invoke it to justify racial laws is nothing but a sophism.
The entrance exams for the most prestigious institutions of higher learning (2), carried out "according to each one's capacities", are not promoters of inequality. They do, however, operate in a terrain that is permeated by prior social inequalities. Poverty in Brazil assails people of all skin colours. According to the 2006 national census, of the total of 43 million persons between the ages of 18 and 30 years, 12.9 million earned half or less than half of the minimum wage per capita. Among this group of very poor people, 30% classified themselves as "whites", 9% as "blacks", and 60% as "pardos" (mixed colour, lit. "grey"). Of these 12.9 million persons, only 21% of the "whites" and 16% of the "blacks" and "pardos" had finished secondary schooling, and very few, of any colour, continued their studies. Basically, therefore, what limits access to higher learning is low income, with all that is associated with it.
Presented as a way of reducing social inequality, racial quotas are ineffectual; rather they contribute towards hiding the tragic reality highlighted by these figures, shifting people's attention away from the immense and urgent social and educational challenges that confront our nation. Furthermore, even among those young people who have a chance to enter a qualified institution of higher learning, racial quotas do not promote equality. Instead, they increase previous inequalities or produce new ones (3):
Exclusionary racial quotas, as applied for example by the University of Brasilia (UnB), offer the possibility of entrance with a lower score to a candidate defined as "black" over one who is defined as "white", even if the former comes from a family with a higher income and has been educated in a privileged private school and the latter comes from a family of lower income and from one of our ruined public secondary schools. In the end, the system attributes a privilege to middle class candidates arbitrarily classified as "black".
Racial quotas combined with quotas for candidates that studied in public secondary schools, as applied for example by the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), separate out students coming from families with similar incomes into two racially defined polar groups, thus creating a "natural" inequality among people of equal social standing. The predictable result is to offer privilege to candidates defined arbitrarily as "black" coming from better schools to the detriment of their colleagues defined as "white" and all the other students from secondary schools of lower quality.
The 2006 census states that 9.41 million students were in secondary schooling, but only 5.87 million were in higher learning, of which only a minority of 1.44 million were registered in the public universities. The laws of racial quotas have no effect over that and they do not promote greater social inclusion. They merely select "winners" and "losers" on the basis of a highly subjective and deeply unfair criterion, opening up deep scars in young people's personalities, at a moment when they feel extremely fragile, as they compete among themselves for openings in public universities that will have a deep impact on their personal future.
We want a Brazil whose citizens are free to celebrate their multiple origins, coming together in the creation of a national culture which is open and tolerant; instead of being obliged to choose and value only one of their lines of descent before the others. What motivates us is not a fight against affirmative action, if this is understood as an effort to follow the opening declarations of the Constitution which advocate the need to reduce social inequality. What concerns us is the manipulation of this doctrine with an aim to racialize the social life of the country. The laws that offer opportunities of employment to physically deficient people and grant quotas for women in political parties are invoked as precedents to sustain the legal admissibility of racial laws. This is also a sophism, but an even more serious one, as it leads to the naturalization of race. There are no reasonable doubts as to who are the women or the physically disabled among us, yet the definition and demarcation of racial groups by the State as a political undertaking can only be carried out against all the evidence that science provides.
Human races do not exist. Genetics has proved that the visual differences between the so-called human "races" are superficial physical traits that depend on a minimal percentage of the 25 thousand genes or so that form the human genome. Skin colour, an evolutionary adaptation to varying levels of ultraviolet radiation in different regions of the world, is expressed in less than 10 genes! In the words of the geneticist Sérgio Pena: "It is, thus, scientifically proven that ‘races' do not exist. This fact must be taken into account by society and incorporated into its convictions and moral attitudes. An adequate and desirable posture would be the construction of a de-racialized society, in which the singularity of the individual would be valued and celebrated. We must assimilate the notion that the only biologically coherent division in the human species is into billions of individuals, and not into a handful of ‘races'." (Ciência Hoje Online, Sept. 2006).
Racism was not produced by race; rather, racism produced the belief in races. "Scientific racism" in the twentieth century accompanied the imperial expansion of Europe into Africa and Asia, raising a "scientific" base for the ideology of the "civilizing mission" of Europeans, famously expressed in "the white man's burden".
So as to be able legally to separate the natives from the colonizers, colonial powers were also led to distinguish natives among themselves, inscribing such boundaries into their censuses. The distribution of privilege along ethnic and racial criteria inculcated race into minds and policies, sowing the seeds of tension and giving rise to conflicts that are still alive today. In South Africa, the apartheid system separated out "whites" from "non-whites" and, in its implacable logic, fragmented the "non-whites" into carefully delimited ethnic groups. In Rwanda, in Kenya and so many other places, Africans were subjected to meticulous ethnic classifications that determined differential access to services and public employment. The political production of race is a gesture that is not dependent upon the existence of objective differences in skin colour.
When the law assigns people to racial groups, this contaminates the whole of society with racism - and, of course, the different access to rights determined by racial criteria. In the United States - the model for all policies of racial quotas - the abolition of slavery was immediately followed by the production of racial laws based on the "one drop rule". This rule, which counters the evidence of biological and cultural mixing among humans, promotes a division of society into legal, social, cultural and spatial ghettoes. According to it, people are irrevocably "white" or "black". This is the inspiration behind the racial quotas in Brazil.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation in which they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character". 45 years ago, in August, Martin Luther King opened up an alternative horizon for North Americans, anchoring it to the "American dream" and to the political principle of equality for all before the law on the basis of which their nation was founded. But the development of that post-racial vision was interrupted by the racialist policies that, under the pretence of repairing injustices, drank from the poisonous well of the "one drop rule". Since then, as is extensively documented by Thomas Sowell in Affirmative Action around the World: an empirical study (2004), racial quotas in the United States have not contributed in any way towards the reduction of inequality. On the contrary, they have deepened the racial schism that cuts deeply into North American society.
"It is a racial impasse in which we have been imprisoned for many years", declared Senator Barack Obama in a speech delivered on 18th March 2008, where he picked up the thread that was tragically lost after the murder of Martin Luther King. The "impasse" will not be overcome in the near future, as it depends on the intrinsic logic operating inside racial laws. As Sowell noted, based on examples from a large number of countries, the distribution of privilege according to ethnic or racial criteria feeds back into racialized perceptions of society. Pressure groups and political careers are inevitably articulated by these perceptions.
Still, something seems to be moving in the United States. Recently, reflecting upon a widespread disenchantment concerning racialism, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional those educational policies based on the application of racial labels to people. In his argument, the presiding judge, John G. Roberts Jr., wrote "the path towards the abolition of racially based discrimination is to end racially based discrimination". This reiteration has a clear intention: to stress that the mere inversion of the signals of discrimination can only consecrate race in the legal sphere, thus undermining the principle of citizenship.
In that decision, Judge Anthony Kennedy aligned with the majority but wrote a separate opinion containing the following protest: "Who exactly is white and who is non-white? To be forced to live under a state-mandated racial label is inconsistent with the dignity of individuals in our society. And it is a label that an individual is powerless to change." In the Brazilian censuses, information concerning race/colour has always contemplated the possibility of mixing. Racial laws in Brazil would change all that, by sticking onto people "a label that an individual is powerless to change". University entrance quotas, for example, associate nominally a young candidate with one of merely two polarised "racial" categories, thus imposing irrefutable official identities.
Judge Kennedy goes further, recognizing the difference between a doctrine of affirmative action and policies of racial quotas. He affirms the legality of initiatives that aim actively to promote equality without distinguishing people in racial terms. Referring to the persistence of the ghettoes that characterize North American society, he mentions among other things the need to select racially segregated neighbourhoods for priority status in public investment in education.
In Brazil, the seductive promise of the reduction of inequality at no cost by means of racial quotas for university entrance seems to be making headway. Nothing could be more erroneous: racial quotas merely hand out privilege to an infinitesimal minority of middle-class students and, behind this falsely inclusive mask they preserve the structure of a bankrupt public system of education.
Public education is in sore need of reform. It cries out for adequately conceived policies and momentous investments. We must raise the general standard of education of our nation. Above all, we must breach the abyss between the schools of quality, almost always located in middle-class neighbourhoods, and the devastated schools of our urban peripheries, our favelas, and our rural areas. The redirecting of priority funding towards such spaces of poverty would benefit young people of low income of all skin tonalities - and, of course, a large proportion of those would turn out to be "pardos" or "blacks".
The national aim should be to provide everyone with basic schooling of quality, thus opening up realistically the access to universities. In any case, there are a number of initiatives that could be undertaken immediately to improve the situation of the young people of all skin colours who approach our universities - for example, free courses for entrance exam preparation or the elimination of registration rates for public universities' entrance exams. At the Paulista State University (Unesp), in 2007, the Program of Free Short Courses for University Entrance, targeted to students from public schools, reached 3,714 youngsters, of whom 1,050 were admitted to universities, 707 of these into public ones. Such policies, to the extent that they do not separate out the young people by means of abominable racial categories, address the problem correctly and contribute effectively towards the reduction of inequality.
Brazilian society is not free from the plague of racism - this is evident to anyone whose skin colour is just slightly darker, especially to young people from low-income families. Illegally and scandalously, skin colour counts, especially in the labour market. Discrimination operates in a number of ways, such as during police raids on peripheral neighbourhoods or on the application of the legally dubious collective search and arrest mandates used by the police in the favelas.
Of course there is racial prejudice and racism in Brazil. Still, Brazil is not a racist society. Since the abolition of slavery, instead of opting for the "one drop rule", Brazilians have worked out a collective system of identity based on an anti-racist notion of mixing which has produced laws that criminalize racism. In seventy years, the Republic has not witnessed a single organized racist movement or any significant expression of racial hatred. Race prejudice is so shameful that it has hidden itself in a series of oblique and ashamed expressions that fear to come out into the open. This subterranean nature of racial prejudice among us is a very positive sign that there is much that is positive in Brazilian national identity, and not as proof of our historical failure.
"Who exactly is white and who is non-white?" - asks Judge Kennedy, causing widespread puzzlement in the United States, where most people are certain that they can tell each one's "racial" identity. Still, to Brazilians, the question strikes one as obvious. Among us, interracial marriages are not uncommon and residential segregation is strictly related to income, not skin colour. Brazilians are prone to dilute "racial" frontiers, both through mixing and through their identity practices. This is evident when we look at the significance and substantial increase of the number of "pardos" in the censuses: from 21% in 1940 to 43% in 2006, with a concomitant reduction in "whites" (63% to 49%) or "blacks" (15% to 7%).
The notion of mixing which Brazilians have internalized seems to be confirmed by genetic studies. A well-known research project concerning the ancestrality of Brazilians classified as "white" for census purposes carried out by Sérgio Pena and his team at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, has found out that intensive mixing has taken place. "In short, these phylogeographic studies with white Brazilians show that the immense majority of the patrilines is European, whilst the majority of the matrilines (over 60%) is Amerindian or African." (Estudos Avançados 18 (50), 2004). Specifically, DNA mitochondrial analyses, which identify maternal ancestries, have shown that 33% of the lineages are of Amerindian origin, 28% of African origin, and 39% of European origin.
DNA research allows us to conclude that, in 2000, there were around 28 million Afrodescendants among the 90.6 million Brazilians who declare themselves as "white" and that, among the 76.4 million who declare themselves "pardo" or "black", 20% had no African ancestrality whatsoever. We need go no further to understand that it is not legitimate to associate skin colour to ancestrality and that the imaginary job of identifying "blacks" with slave descent and "Afrodescent" is purely of ideological import. Similarly, genetic research shows that classifying together into a single "black" (negro) category those who classify themselves as "black" and as "pardos" for census purposes is intellectually unsound.
The violence of such a move is not limited to intellectual considerations. The laws of racial quotas are instruments of political engineering aimed at fabricating or reproducing race. Whilst, individually, they give rise to singular acts of injustice, socially they have the power to produce "official races". They do this by dividing young people into two polarised races. As in Brazil we have no way of knowing who is and who is not "black", committees of racial classification had to be established by some of the universities that tried out the quota system in order to separate people into opposing camps. The line of separation could only be consolidated by the official validation of the candidates' own assessment. This gave rise to a sinister process where university committees were set up to investigate and deliberate concerning the "true race" of the young people, basing themselves on photographic images or on interviews. The inevitable end result is that the principle of racial self-declaration is cancelled out, being substituted by a process of official attribution of racial identity.
At the University of Brasilia, a committee of racial certification made up of professors and members of the black movement ended up classifying identical twins into separate sides of the racial frontier. In Maranhão, similar events took place. Throughout Brazil, the very same candidates were certified as "black" in one university only to be discarded as "white" by another one. The proliferation of laws of racial quotas requires a uniform and universal system of racial classification. This is the sort of logic that led the Ministry of Education and Science to implement nominal and obligatory declarations of racial belonging into the act of matriculation in the national system of elementary education. On the horizon of the trajectory of racialization promoted by the State is the establishment of a compulsory racial stamp on the identity documents of all Brazilians. History is full of unacceptable barbarities committed on the basis of this type of official racial branding.
The widespread propaganda in favour of racial quotas has stressed that students who enter universities on quotas perform as well as those who don't. In fact, data concerning this question are sparse, contradictory and not very trustworthy. Besides, the issue is irrelevant, as informed critics of the quota system have never claimed that quota students would be incapable or that their presence would lower the standards of universities. Racial quotas have no effect upon higher education as such. Rather, they are the more visible face of an official policy of racialization of social relations that is threatening our national cohesiveness.
Belief in race is the article of faith of racism. The fabrication of "official races" and the selective distribution of privilege according to racial labels inoculate the venom of racism into society's veins, with its correlates of rancour and hatred. In Brazil, this would constitute a radical revision of our national identity and the renunciation of the possible utopia of the universalization of effective citizenship.
When it comes to considering racial quotas, the Federal Supreme Court is deciding not about a method of access to university education, but about the meaning of our nation and the nature of our Constitution. Racial laws are no threat to any kind of "white elite", as racialists are today maintaining; they merely erect a brutal barrier right through the middle of the absolute majority of Brazilians. This dividing line would cut across the schoolrooms of public education, the buses that take people to work, the roads, and the houses of the poor. At the beginning of this new millennium, the institutionalizing of a racialized State would be a way of telling our citizens that the utopia of equality has failed and that all we can offer in its place is a sort of fragile truce between nations separated from one another by the unsurpassable chasm of racial identity. Is this really the future we want?
21st April 2008
(1) Translator's note: The ProUni programme provides finance for impoverished students who study in public secondary schools at private universities with quotas set aside for black students.
(2) Translator's note: In general the public state-owned universities are the most prestigious and of higher quality. They do not charge fees. Public secondary schools, to the contrary, are generally of lower standard than private ones. Thus, well-off and even not so well-off parents usually choose to send their children to private schools in the hope that they will be able to enter private non-fee-paying public universities.
(3) Translator's note: In Lusophone countries, public secondary schooling is usually of worse quality than private secondary schools. To the contrary, at university level, public institutions (and especially those of the federal system in Brazil) are of superior quality to private universities.
Adel Daher - Director, Railway Workers Union of Bauru and MS
Adelaide Jóia - Sociologist, MA in Childhood Education, Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP)
Adriana Atila - PhD Cultural Anthropology, IFCS, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Aguinaldo Silva - Journalist, television script writer
Alba Zaluar - Professor, Anthropology, University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ); Reader, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP); columnist Folha de S. Paulo
Almir Lima da Silva - Journalist, Black Culture Centre Macaé-RJ
Alzira Alves de Abreu - Researcher, CPDOC, Getulio Vargas Foundation
Amâncio Paulino de Carvalho - Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Ana Maria Machado - Writer, member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters
Ana Teresa A. Venancio - Researcher, Casa de Oswaldo Cruz/Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz)
Ângela Porto - Head Researcher, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation
Antonio Cicero - Poet and essayist
Antonio Risério - Anthropologist
Arlindo Belo da Silva - Tax Advisor, National Confederation of Chemical Workers (CNQ-CUT, trade union)
Bernardo Lewgoy - Adjunct Professor of Anthropology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)
Bernardo Sorj - Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Bernardo Vilhena - Poet
Bila Sorj - Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Bolivar Lamounier - Political Scientist
Carlos A. de L. Costa Ribeiro - Professor, Environmental Sciences
Carlos Pio - Professor, University of Brasilia (UNB)
Carlos José Serapião - Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ); Professor, University of the Joinville Region-SC
Celso Castro - Anthropologist, professor, CPDOC Getulio Vargas Foundation
César Benjamin - Editor
Charles Pires - Director, Union of Municipal Workers of Florianópolis
Cremilda Medina - Journalist and professor, University of São Paulo (USP)
Cynthia Maria Pinto da Luz - Lawyer, National Councillor, National Human Rights Movement
Claudia Travassos - Head Researcher, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation
Darcy Fontoura de Almeida -Emeritus Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Demétrio Magnoli - Sociologist, Group for the Analysis of International Affairs (Gacint), University of São Paulo (USP)
Diomédes Matias da Silva Filho - Director, Teachers' Union of the State of Pernambuco
Domingos Guimaraens - Poet and artist
Edmar Lisboa Bacha - Economist
Eduardo Giannetti - Economist
Eduardo Pizarro Carnelós - Lawyer, ex-president, Lawyers' Association of São Paulo and of the National Council for Criminal and Prison Policy of the Ministry of Justice
Elizabeth Balbachevsky - Professor, Political Science; researcher, Nucleus for the Study of Public Policy, University of São Paulo (USP)
Esteffane Emanuelle Ferreira - Student, Coordinating Committee, Students' Union, Federal University of Mato Grosso (UFMT)
Eunice Durham - Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Philosophy and Human Sciences, University of São Paulo (USP)
Fernando Gomes Martins - Neighbourhood Association of Parque Bandeirantes; Hip Hop Movement, Sumaré-SP
Ferreira Gullar - Poet
Flávio Rabelo Versiani - Professor, Economics, University of Brasilia (UNB)
Francisco João Lessa - Lawyer, Direction PT-SC
Francisco Johny Rodrigues Silva - Fórum Afro da Amazônia (FORAFRO)
Francisco Martinho - Professor, History, University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ)
Francisco Mauro Salzano - Emeritus Professor of Genetics, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)
George de Cerqueira Leite Zarur - International Professor, Latin American Social Science Faculty (FLACSO)
Gerald Thomas - Playwright, Companhia de Ópera Seca
Gilberto Horchman - Researcher, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation
Gilberto Velho - Professor of Anthropology, National Museum, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ); Brazilian Academy of Sciences
Gilda Portugal - Professor of Sociology, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP)
Gilson Schwartz - Professor, School of Arts and Communication, University of São Paulo (USP); coordinator, Cidade do Conhecimento
Glaucia Kruse Villas Bôas - Professor of Sociology, Institute of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Gursen De Miranda - Professor, Federal University of Roraima (UFRR); President, Brazilian Academy of Agrarian Arts
Helda Castro de Sá - Coordinator, Association of Caboclos e Ribeirinhos of Amazônia
Helena Severo - Researcher, social scientist, Nucleus for Research and Studies (NEP), Fiscal Court, Rio de Janeiro
Helga Hoffmann - Economist, Group for the Analysis of International Affairs (Gacint) University of São Paulo (USP)
Heloisa Helena T. de Souza Martins - Professor of Sociology, University of São Paulo (USP)
Isabel Lustosa - Researcher, Casa de Rui Barbosa Foundation
João Rodarte - Businessman
João Ubaldo Ribeiro - Writer
José Álvaro Moisés - Professor of Political Science; Director of the Nucleus for Research on Public Policy, University of São Paulo (USP)
José Arbex Jr. - Journalist and professor of journalism, Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP)
José Augusto Guilhon Albuquerque - Professor of International Relations, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of São Paulo (USP)
José Carlos Miranda - National Coordinator, Black Socialist Movement
José Goldemberg - Former rector, University of São Paulo (USP)
José de Souza Martins - Professor of Sociology, University of São Paulo (USP)
José Roberto Pinto de Góes - Professor of History, University of the State of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ)
Karina Kuschnir - Professor of Anthropology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Leão Alves - President, Brazilian Pardo-Mestiço Movement
Leonel Munhoz Coimbra - Analyst of External Control, Specialist in Public Policy and Government Management, National School of Public Administration
Lourdes Sola - President, International Association of Political Science; professor, University of São Paulo (USP)
Luciana Villas-Boas - Director, Record Editorial Group
Luciene G. Souza - MA in Public Health, National Health Foundation
Luiz Alphonsus -Artist
Luiz Fernando Dias Duarte - Professor of Anthropology, National Museum, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Luiz Werneck Vianna - Professor, Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IUPERJ)
Lya Luft - Writer
Manolo Garcia Florentino - Professor of History, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Marcelo Hermes-Lima - Professor of Medical Biochemistry, University of Brasilia (UNB)
Marcos Chor Maio - Researcher, Casa de Oswaldo Cruz/Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz)
Margarida Cintra Gordinho - Editor
Maria Alice Resende de Carvalho - Sociologist
Maria Cátira Bortolini - Professor, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS)
Maria Conceição Pinto de Góes - Professor, Graduate Centre in Comparative History, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Maria Herminia Tavares de Almeida - Political Scientist
Maria Laura Viveiros de Castro Cavalcanti - Professor, Institute of Philosophy and Social Sciences, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Maria Sylvia Carvalho Franco - Professor, University of São Paulo (USP), State University of Campinas (UNICAMP)
Mariza Peirano - Professor of Anthropology, University of Brasilia (UNB)
Maurício Soares Leite - Professor, Nutrition, Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC)
Moacyr Góes - Theatre director and filmmaker
Monica Grin - Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Nelson Motta - Musical producer, journalist, writer
Patrícia Vanzella - Professor of Music, University of Brasilia (UNB)
Pedro Paulo Poppovic - Businessman
Peter Henry Fry - Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Reinaldo Azevedo - Journalist, revista VEJA; editor, "Blog do Reinaldo Azevedo"
Renata Aparecida Vaz - Coordinating Committee, Black Socialist Movement São Paulo -SP
Renato Lessa - Professor of Political theory, Research Institute of Rio de Janeiro (IUPERJ); Federal Fluminense University (UFF); President, Instituto Ciência Hoje
Ricardo Ventura Santos - Head Researcher, National School of Public Health Oswaldo Cruz Foundation; Professor, National Museum, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
Roberta Fragoso Menezes Kaufmann - Public Prosecutor, Federal District; MA in Law; Professor, Constitutional Law, University of Brasilia (UNB)
Roberto Romano da Silva - Professor, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP)
Rodolfo Hoffmann - Professor, Economics Institute, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP)
Ronaldo Vainfas - Professor, Federal Fluminense University (UFF)
Roque Ferreira - Coordinating Committee, National Federation of Rail Transport Workers - CUT
Ruth Correa Leite Cardoso - Anthropologist
Serge Goulart - Secretary, Marxist Left [Esquerda Marxists], Workers' Party (PT)
Sergio Danilo Pena - Professor of Biochemistry and Immunology, Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG); member, Brazilian Academy of Sciences
Simon Schwartzman - Researcher, Institute for the Study of Work and Society (IETS)
Simone Monteiro - Researcher, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation
Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos - Political scientist
Wilson Trajano Filho - Professor of Anthropology, University of Brasilia (UNB)
Yvonne Maggie - Professor of Anthropology, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ)
[Note: text translated and first published in English at London Grip, the online international magazine of culture, criticism and commentary]