Structural Racism in Brazil and the US


Monday, March 21, 2022, 12:30pm to 2:00pm

For a recording of this event, please click here.

Speakers: David Williams, Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health; Chair, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Silvio Almeida, Edward Larocque Tinker Visiting Professor, Institute of Latin American Studies, Columbia University; President, Luiz Gama Institute
Moderated by: Marcia Castro, Andelot Professor of Demography; Chair of the Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Brazil and the United States share significant aspects of their colonial histories, legacies of slavery, and the resulting structural racism that permeates their institutions. Studies abound regarding the disproportionate impacts and effects of mass incarceration, police brutality, and income inequality, to name a few, among black and brown populations in both countries. Despite these similarities, the demographic makeup of these two nations could not be more different: while roughly 55% of Brazil´s population identifies as black or mixed race, approximately 12% of Americans identify as black. What can a comparative look at these countries teach us about the consequences of structural racism and about potential solutions to eradicate racism from our societies?

David R. Williams is the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also a Professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology at Harvard University. Previously, he served 6 years on the faculty of Yale University and 14 at the University of Michigan. He holds an MPH from Loma Linda University and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan. Dr. Williams is an internationally recognized social scientist focused on social influences on health. He has been invited to keynote scientific conferences in Europe, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, South America and across the United States. His research has enhanced our understanding of the complex ways in which socioeconomic status, race, stress, racism, health behavior and religious involvement can affect health. He is the author of more than 475 scientific papers and he has served on the editorial board of 12 scientific journals and as a reviewer for over 75 others. The Everyday Discrimination Scale that he developed is the most widely used measure of discrimination in health studies.

Silvio Luiz de Almeida holds a Ph.D. in Law from the Department of Philosophy and General Theory of Law at the Law School of the University of São Paulo. Master in Politics, Law, and Economics from the Law School of Mackenzie Presbyterian University. Graduated in Law from the Law School of Mackenzie Presbyterian University. Graduated in Philosophy from the Faculty of Philosophy, Literature and Human Sciences of the University of São Paulo. Obtained a postdoctoral degree at the Law School of the University of São Paulo. He was a Mellon Visiting Professor at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) at Duke University (USA) in 2020, where he taught the courses "Black Lives Matter US and Brazil" and "Race and Law in Latin America". During his time at Duke University, he was, alongside Professor John D. French, the organizer of the exhibition "Black Lives Matter US-Brazil", the result of the academic works of the discipline of the same name taught. After his period as a visiting professor, he was integrated as a researcher at CLACS-Duke in a research project that analyzes the figure of the "Amicus Curiae" and the participation of civil society in the constitutional cases about affirmative actions in the Brazilian Supreme Court and in the American Supreme Court. His research is based on four aspects: 1) The relationship between Philosophy of Law and Economic Theories; 2) Structural Racism; 3) State and Law in Brazilian Social Thought; 4) Compliance and anti-discrimination practices. Dr. Almeida is a political columnist for the Folha de São Paulo newspaper, the most important newspaper in Brazil. He is also a lawyer and a political activist, and currently is president of the Luiz Gama Institute, an NGO dedicated to the defense of human rights.

Marcia Castro is Andelot Professor of Demography, Chair of the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and Chair of the Brazil Studies Program of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS). Her research focuses on the development and use of multidisciplinary approaches to identify the determinants of infectious disease transmission in different ecological settings to inform control policies. She has more than 15 years of collaboration with Brazilian researchers, Health Secretariats, and the Ministry of Health particularly related to infectious diseases. She made important contributions during recent public health emergencies (the Zika virus epidemic and the COVD-19 pandemic). Castro has projects on malaria, COVID-19, arboviruses, infant/child mortality and development, and climate change in the Brazilian Amazon. Specifically, on COVID-19 she has been assessing the spatiotemporal pattern of COVID-19 spread in Brazil, mortality, and fertility changes due to the pandemic, risk factors for mortality, and vaccine effectiveness. She serves on several advisory boards in Brazil, including the Institute for the Studies of Health Policies (IEPS), the Science Center for Early Childhood (NCPI), and Instituto Todos Pela Saúde (ITpS). She earned a PhD in Demography from Princeton University.

Presented in collaboration with the Lemann Center for Brazilian Studies, Columbia UniversityAfro-Latin American Research Institute, Harvard UniversityDepartment of Global Health and Population at HSPH, and Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at HSPH.