Brazil’s Congress is left wanting on racial equality issues

Brazilian lawmakers have been historically lax in addressing structural racism in the country, an issue highlighted by the brutal death of João Alberto Freitas

racial equality congress brazil
Senator Paulo Paim of Rio Grande do Sul, one of the few black members of Congress. Photo: Wilson Dias/ABr

Racism has become a prominent issue on the Brazilian congressional agenda since the November 19 brutal murder of 40-year-old black man João Alberto Freitas at the hands of white security guards at a supermarket in southern Brazil. Several lawmakers publicly condemned the incident, including the heads of both congressional chambers, Rodrigo Maia and Davi Alcolumbre. The lower house went a step further last week by establishing an external committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr. Freitas’ death.

The following day, the Senate approved a change to Brazil’s penal code to increase sentences for racially motivated violent crimes, which will now...

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