Rio de Janeiro, Salvador da Bahia, and São Paulo, 1964–1985
This chapter describes how the military officers who took power after 1964 adopted racial democracy as an official state ideology. Their vision of racial democracy, adapted to the needs of a right-wing nationalist regime, was a far cry from the one that had inspired black thinkers and activists at midcentury. Representatives of the authoritarian state used the idea that Brazil was a racial democracy to shut down public discussions about racial discrimination and to justify state suppression of race-based organizing. Architects of the regime's cultural policies leaned on select aspects of Brazil's African heritage—particularly those deemed quaintly folkloric and politically unthreatening—to illustrate Brazil's racial harmony, even as the state produced this apparent absence of racial grievances through censorship and police intimidation. Finally, backed by the threat of military force, the state's idealization of mesticagem stifled the claims to racial and cultural difference black thinkers had insisted on in previous decades.
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