“Interracial” Sex and Racial Democracy in Brazil: Twin Concepts?



Racial democracy is maintained in Brazil through both scholarly and popular discourses that consider “interracial” sex as proof of Brazil's lack of a racial problem. In this article, I scrutinize the discourse that asks, “How can we be racist when so many of us are mixed?” I argue that racial discourses are embedded in everyday interactions, but are often codified or masked. “Race” is especially pertinent to sexuality, yet the two have hardly been analyzed together. In fact, it is not the belief in a racial democracy that is at the heart of Brazilian racial hegemony, but rather the belief that Brazil is a color-blind erotic democracy. Using my ethnographic data, I illustrate that “race” is embodied in everyday valuations of sexual attractiveness that are gendered, racialized, and class-oriented in ways that commodity black female bodies and white male economic, racial, and class privilege. [Brazil, race, sexuality, poverty]