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State necropolitics and anti-black racism: a discursive analysis of the murder of George Floyd

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SILVA, Evanildo Alves da [1], BONFIM, Marco Antônio Lima do [2]

SILVA, Evanildo Alves da. BONFIM, Marco Antônio Lima do. State necropolitics and anti-black racism: a discursive analysis of the murder of George Floyd. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 06, Ed. 12, Vol. 11, pp. 48-65. December 2021. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link: ‎


In this article, we aim to address the problem of racism in the United States, which killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020, being murdered by the American police. This fact, fed by the structure of the biopower and biopolitics system, leads to police violence and results in the selection of who should live and who should die, unleashing the genocide resulting from state necropolitics. For this, we make notes on the historical course of the creation and development of the United States of America, with its geographic and geopolitical division line, approaching the concepts of whitening, race, racism and the myth of racial democracy. We rely on the theoretical foundation of authors who deal with the history of black people and the fight against racism, such as: Almeida (2018), Fernandes (2007), Mbembe (2017), Flores (2017), Nascimento (2019), Karnal (2007) and Munanga, (2008). The history of black people is marked by relations of domination, denial of the right to voice and freedom of expression, and social distancing. In this sense, we ask: What instruments are indispensable to promote racial equality policies in a satisfactory way? In this perspective, we put forward assumptions related to affirmative action policies that can be adopted, in the sense of contributing to the reduction of racial inequalities, so that elite groups, formed mostly by whites, do not remain predominant over blacks.

Keywords: Racism, Black, Anti-racism, Inequality, Law.


The present work is the result of readings carried out on racism, discrimination and social exclusion, also stoked by the events involving the episode that victimized the North American George Floyd, an act committed by a white police officer, who spent more than eight minutes with his knee on his neck, causing his death by asphyxiation. Even though he begged for his life and repeated the phrase “I can’t breathe” several times, he was not answered. The United States is a country that stands out for its spectacular economy and cinematographic culture, where great world characters emerge, to the point of awakening in many people, from different parts of the world, the desire to immigrate there, in the expectation of establishing a life surrounded by peace, joy and prosperity. This same country, however, provokes in so many others the feeling of hatred, to the point of committing guerrilla attacks against the American people. In addition to these disrespectful advances from other countries, historically weighs the existing disputes, within the country itself, between blacks and whites who make up the nation.

According to Rocha (2020), the struggle of black activists, who had as their precursors and heralds Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, continues to be fought among current societies, by other characters and by other contexts. The author goes on to say that “it is sad”, but discrimination against black people continues to be carried out throughout history. These regrettable and unacceptable facts only change their name, but discrimination, intolerance and marginalization of blacks, especially among the poorest, with the absence of public policies that guarantee the social rights recommended by human rights, continue (ROCHA, 2020) .

The use of force is adopted by the State in order to maintain its structure of social control. It happens that, many times, the actions that are used to guarantee the national security policy of a country are true practices of governmental authoritarianism, aiming to regulate the life of a certain group of individuals. The use of this device is called “biopolitics” by Michel Foucault (FLORES, 2017). And, for the State to be able to put its governmental political structure into practice, it appropriates technological and institutional devices to control the actions of people’s lives, which Michel Foucault called “biopower” (FLORES, 2017).

Flores (2017), citing Foucault, says that the instrument most used by the State to make these practices acceptable and manage to supervise people is discourse, which intends to put a truth in relation to ways of life. After analyzing the forms of life, biopolitics uses the device of biopower to decide which members of society can live and which must die. In this sense, life has become an artifact controlled by knowledge, which constitutes itself as an object of social control. Mbembe (2018) says that “racism is above all a technology designed to allow the exercise of biopower, this old sovereign right to kill” (MBEMBE, 2018, p. 18).

In the midst of the discussion made by Michel Foucault, the Cameroonian historian Mbembe presents the concept of “necropolitics”, which is constituted in the processes of colonization and neocolonization. Mbembe understands that the slave plantation system in the colonies presents itself as a form of frontier that dehumanizes the human, this because “colonies are similar to frontiers. They are inhabited by ‘savages’. The colonies are not organized in a state way and they did not create a human world” (MBEMBE, 2017, p. 35). In these colonies, “the sovereign has the prerogative to kill without any objection from the law” (MBEMBE, 2018, p. 36). In Mbembe’s analysis, that model of genocide practiced in the colonies was transmuted to current and urban societies. “Living under contemporary occupation is to experience a permanent condition of ‘living in pain’: fortified structures, military posts and road blocks everywhere” (MBEMBE, 2018, p. 68). The surveillance imposed on modern society configures a prototype of dominating power, with “soldiers patrolling the dark streets, frightened by their own shadows; children blinded by rubber bullets; parents humiliated and beaten in front of their families” (MBEMBE, 2018, p. 69).

In the words of Flores (2017), necropolitics, in this sense, “symbolizes the process in which the human being transforms himself into something useful to the State and the capitalist system in order to be alive or is of no use to him anymore, and can then be dispensed with. ” (FLORES, 2017, p. 44). It is possible to perceive, in this nebulous scenario, who should be criminalized and executed, being extinct from the bosom of society, and it is usually the black and peripheral person who is in a situation of greater social and/or economic vulnerability. Thus, black people face a process of exclusion for being considered a risk to society. Necropolitics is supported by the characteristic of reproving, repressing and exterminating, being operated by the poles of life or death. For this reason, it has the ability to multiply in an amazing way, whether in the death of individual people, or in the death of mass genocide (MBEMBE, 2017, p. 65).


Society is always in the process of social, political, economic and cultural identity changes. According to Hall (2006), cultural identities undergo constant transformations, undoubtedly moving away from the old identity configurations that, for so long, constituted themselves as unified identities and aimed to perpetuate the system of cultural representation absolved from medieval society. Hall demonstrates that it is not possible to have only one cultural identity, as a result of the diversity of cultures existing in the same nation, encompassing gender, ethnicity and race (HALL, 2006). “National identities are not things we are born with, but are formed and transformed within representation” (HALL, 2006, p. 48).

The processes of hegemonic constitution of a unified culture, therefore, occur through violent processes that try to wane and, consequently, eliminate attempts to accept diverse and different cultural identities. In Hall’s words, “each conquest subjugated conquered peoples and their cultures, customs, languages, traditions, and tried to impose a more unified cultural hegemony” (HALL, 2006, p. 60). This implies that nations, each in their own way, seek to homogenize their national identity, in order to solidify their power structure. Rodrigues (2021), describing the words of Erica Malunguinho, says that “the great center of world humanitarian conflicts is to treat colonialism as a structural wound of the past and that, therefore, does not need to be revised contemporaneously. As such, colonialism is an untreated, painful, sometimes infectious, bleeding wound” (RODRIGUES, 2021, P. 41).

The United States (the geopolitical space of this article) was no different in seeking to build and concretize a national identity based on ethnic-racial references predominantly of white people. In these circumstances, the black was plundered and considered the main national shame, becoming a threat to the new model of society that emerged on the national scene. The key to solving this problem lay in the suggestion of a eugenics proposal with the intention of biologically classifying the whitening of a single race. What was desired was the search for a predominantly white nation, and, consequently, the inferiorization of the black population (NASCIMENTO, 1978).

The historian Leandro Karnal (2007) makes a historical overview from the beginning of the formation of the United States, from the creation of the thirteen colonies originating in England until the beginning of the 21st century. The author reports that the colonies that were founded there were already established on the mast of economic and racial differences. While, in the north of the country, a predominantly whitened population settled in a land considered fertile and abundant, which made possible the development of large industries, free labor and the acquisition of small land properties; On the other hand, in the southern region, a population predominantly derived from slave labor was established. The means of survival found by the new inhabitants of the land was the acquisition of large land properties and monoculture work. With this structural formation of the economy, the use of slave labor was established, more specifically the work of black slaves from the African continent (KARNAL, 2007).

According to Karnal (2007), the country faced, from 1861 to 1865, the so-called American Civil War, which took place between the northern states and the self-proclaimed Confederate States of America. The winners of the battle were the northern colonies, which, after achieving victory, ordered the immediate abolition of slavery in the southern territory. With the end of the war, negotiations began for the reconstruction of the country and, consequently, the reintegration of the southern states to the rest of the nation. Many white citizens who lived in the southern region, however, did not agree that blacks, who had just received their freedom, had the same rights as whites. This is the beginning of the first attempts at a segregationist policy that dragged on for many years. Regarding the attempts at a segregationist policy in the United States, Karnal says the following:

Leis de segregação racial haviam feito breve aparição durante a reconstrução, mas desapareceram até 1868. Ressurgiram no governo de Grant, a começar pelo Tennesse, em 1870: lá, os sulistas brancos promulgaram leis contra o casamento inter-racial. Cinco anos mais tarde, o Tennessee adotou a primeira Lei Jim Crow e o resto do sul o seguiu rapidamente. O termo ‘Jim Crow’, nascido de uma música popular, referia-se a toda lei (foram dezenas) que seguisse o princípio ‘separados, mas iguais’, estabelecendo afastamento entre negros e brancos nos trens, estações ferroviárias, cais, hotéis, barbearias, restaurantes, teatros, entre outros (KARNAL, 2007, P. 145).

According to Morris and Burnett (2018), the ideology of white supremacy was present in the construction of American society, gaining strength with the racism of Jim Crow, a system that created laws that were in force mainly in the south of the United States, with which Several measures were implemented that should be put into practice, such as the separation between blacks and whites in schools, trains and public offices. Then there were several lynchings and even hangings of many blacks using the tactic of hanging them from trees. Because they are considered an inferior race similar to chimpanzees, they should remain in a state of inferiority in relation to other individuals in society, because, according to this ideology, this was God’s will: that the black person should remain in a position of sub-humanity ( MORRIS AND BURNET, 2018). According to the authors, this ideology took shape with the spread of white science disseminated in the Enlightenment period, which preached the intellectual development of the white subject, leading to a stage of human superiority. In this direction, the defense of white science and the ideology of superiority go hand in hand, justifying racial oppression (MORRIS AND BURNETT, 2018).

According to Nascimento (2019), this clash of rights between whites and blacks was widely discussed by Du Bois in his book “As almas do povo negro” (The souls of the black people). There, he reveals the situation experienced by the Afro-American community, which was fighting for freedom in a land in which, although it had already been conquered by them, they still felt like foreigners. They carried within them a nationalist dualism involved by the feeling of being American and being black, as described by Du Bois, who says: “Two souls, two thoughts, two irreconcilable clashes, two conflicting ideals, in a black body, impeded, only by an obstinate effort, to split” (DU BOIS, 1903, p. 39). For African-Americans, the fact that they were recognized as black people did not cause them any embarrassment, as they were aware that black blood ran in their veins. They simply wish to also conquer the right to be American citizens, not to suffer social exclusion, to the point of being denied opportunities, of not seeing the doors open to circumstances that were favorable to them (DU BOIS, 1903, p. 39).

In the understanding of Nascimento (2019), Du Bois draws attention to the situation of the psychological state of the black individual in the course of his life, who lives suffering with the feeling of always being rejected by other subjects. Surrounded by this feeling of inferiority, black Americans saw themselves as a problem for society. Nascimento (2019) reports that Du Bois states that the problem of the feeling of inferiority on the part of black people begins in childhood and accompanies them throughout their lives. To support his thesis, he reports an experience he had with himself. It all happened when, still in his teens, he had contact with a new white classmate who had just moved out. In the exchange of cards between students at school, the girl refused to receive his card. It was then that Du Bois realized that he was considered different, with a huge veil that separated him from the world, racism (NASCIMENTO, 2019).

According to Morris and Burnett (2018), for Du Bois, there is a color line that sustains the global structure of racial supremacy, which is supported by a set of ideological, political and economic forces. For the author, this line consists of a barrier of relations between the lighter and darker races of men, on the edge of which men move dangerously. The authors state that, in Du Bois’ thinking, the social structure commanded by the economic power of whites over blacks would only be overcome if blacks managed to achieve a high economic position, but this condition required the union of all blacks with the objective of triumph over racial segregation, for fragmentation and isolation provide the facility for domination. In this sense, the author’s main focus is to combat this type of segregation, which is posed in a semiconscious or explicit way (MORRIS AND BURNETT, 2018).

According to Moore (2007, p. 26), “the progress made in the global fight against systemic racism is modest and fragile”. According to the author, we can observe that North American society has suffered a setback in relation to the conquests acquired in the 1960s and 1970s, when Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, as he was called “Al hajj malik Al-Shabazz”, conquered the right to vote for the black community in 1965, through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The advances that took place in that period were extraordinary, as segregation was overcome and opportunities for employment, education and housing began to emerge for blacks . In addition, many African Americans were elected to city council and mayor. The setbacks, clearly evident, bear witness to the arduous and long path that we still have to walk towards overcoming racial segregation (MOORE, 2007, p. 26).


In the current context, the discourse of anti-racism in society is quite recurrent. In the words of Fernandes (2007), when we hear the word “discourse” the most eloquent political pronouncements immediately come to mind, however all discursive formations are always loaded with ideological formations. In this sense, it is interesting that a discourse analysis takes place, which is characterized not primarily by the use of language in the political context, but in the social context, when we see people entering into discussions and debates on matters that are in evidence on a daily basis (FERNANDES), 2007). Thus, the discourse on anti-racism takes place within society, but with its various forms of suggestion and opinions on the subject.

For authentic defenders of the black cause, speaking about the situation of the black community is fighting for social justice. For others, the anti-racist discourse is surrounded by the prejudice that black people themselves have against themselves (FERNANDES, 2007). In this direction, the discourse of the myth of racial democracy is an instrument of an ideological nature built by intellectual representatives of the elite social stratum who seek to convince the population that whites and non-whites are equal (HASENBALG, 1979). The attempt to convince the black race not to carry out an uprising against the system of privilege to whites aims to avoid collective aggregation and the demobilization of political actions that are able to stop the advance of the anti-racist struggle, this is because “the effectiveness of the dominant racial ideology manifests itself in the absence of open racial conflict and in the political demobilization of blacks, making the racist components of the system remain unchallenged, without the need to resort to a high degree of coercion” (HASENBALG, 1979, p. 246).

According to Schucman (2010), attempts to disapprove of black identity struggles continue to be employed by the white elite when it makes the narrative that whites and blacks enjoy the same rights and opportunities. In relation to this statement, Peter Fry (2005) says that “what remains at stake, however, is the distance between discourses and practices of race relations” (PETER FRY, 2005). In view of this, the world black movement tries to demystify, through its intellectuals, the idea of ​​equality proclaimed by the non-black population and deconstruct the myth of racial democracy.

For Ribeiro (2020), the word segregation means separation, division in order to avoid contact and isolation. According to Leite (2020), the term can also be used in the context of the State, aiming at separating individuals or groups of people who are part of the same society, however, seizing ethnic and racial criteria. It is worth explaining that the definition of race, in its functional category, requires a discursive, historical, social and, above all, political construction in a broader way, whose limited space does not allow us to do so at the moment. For Guimarães (1999), “race is a form of charisma or group stigma based on the belief in a genetic inheritance that defines the moral, intellectual and psychological value of an individual or a group”. (GUIMARÃES, 1999, P.114). Sílvio Almeida (2018) says that its “meaning has always been somehow linked to the act of establishing meanings, first, between plants and animals and, later, between human beings”. Almeida says that “the notion of race as a reference and the different categories of human beings is a phenomenon of modernity”. (ALMEIDA, 2018, p.19). The aforementioned author is concerned to warn us that this observation leads us to understand that the term race is not static, but points to a historical and cultural context of humanity, being always linked to political and economic interests flanked by conflicts of power (ALMEIDA , 2018, p.19).

According to Fanon (1983, p. 44), “one cannot demand with impunity that a man is against the prejudices of his group. The entire colonialist group is racist”. Thus, the structuring of society has always been linked to ideologies of white domination over black. In fact, the formation of economic power structured in capitalism has always been the result of colonialist domination. The whitening thesis, based on the presumption of white superiority, proved to be the ideal accommodation for the slave legacy (CAMARGO, 2010). Da Matta draws attention to the fact that “these types of racial prejudice are entirely consistent with the dominant ideologies of each of these societies, being directly related to the historically chosen forms of social reality”. (DA MATTA, 2000, p. 81).

According to Cardoso (2011), the claim of universal character of black people, in the quest to achieve ethnic and racial recognition, is directly related to the interest of being recognized as a person, but with a specific predicate, that is, of being a black person. Cardoso makes this observation as a result of the discussion that has been dealing with the concept of whiteness emerging in social relations, as a result of the black movement. In Cardoso’s words, “whiteness, or white racial identity, is historically and socially constructed and reconstructed by receiving influence on a local and global scale. It is not about a homogeneous and static racial identity. Whiteness changes over time” (CARDOSO, 2011, p.1). According to the author, white people always consider themselves a person with a peculiar characteristic, regardless of being marked by color or ethnicity, and are surrounded by symbolic privileges that place them in a position of power. He conceptualizes, however, that being white goes beyond occupying the space of power: “It means the existential geography of power itself”, this is because “white identity is the aesthetics, the most beautiful corporeality. The one who owns the story and its perspective” (CARDOSO, 2014, p.17).

In Munanga’s (2008) reflection, even with the arrival of the 21st century, in the face of so many social and cultural transformations, society still carries in its loins the negative balance of structured racism that was present in the period from the 8th century to the middle of the 19th century.  Corroborating Hall’s ideas, Munanga (2008) states that the arrival of the new millennium has substantiated a new form of racism, involved by cultural and identity differences. According to Hall (2006), this whole apparatus of whitening unifying thought is undergoing major transformations, as the “subject previously experienced as having a unified and stable identity is becoming fragmented; composed not of a single, but of several identities” (HALL, 2006, P. 12). In this circumstance, every pigmentocracy order of domination, which spreads racial prejudice and acutely disseminates social inequality, faces the resistance of the “postmodern” subject, celebrates the deconstruction of the unified society format. “The political awareness of the victims of racism in contemporary societies is increasingly growing” (MUANGA, 2008, p. 16).


The episode that took place on May 25, 2020, in the American city of Minneapolis, can be characterized as a racist act. The fact mentioned concerns the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, who was stupidly murdered by a white police officer on the grounds of having passed a counterfeit twenty dollar bill at the CupFoods supermarket. The supermarket employee believed that the bill Floyd had swiped to pay for a pack of cigarettes was forged, so he called the police. Even though Floyd didn’t react and didn’t understand what was really happening, he was handcuffed and tortured, for a period of approximately eight and a half minutes. Since moving from Houston, his hometown in Texas, Floyd lived in the city of Minneapolis, and worked as a security guard, he was always considered a peaceful citizen by everyone. He had recently been fired from his last job, as a result of the economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A linked article on the G1 news portal, May 30, 2020, states that there is a long history of segregation and racial conflict in Minneapolis. According to historians, Minneapolis is a city where racial disparity is extremely large, being considered the fourth worst for blacks to live. It is extremely segregated, and blacks who reside there are prohibited from moving to other areas. Segregation is so extreme that for decades there was a law that prohibited blacks from owning property, being allowed only for white people. These restriction laws for blacks were banned in 1968, however their effects are still present in Minneapolis to this day (PORTAL DE NOTÍCIAS, of May 30, 2020).

At the time, US Vice President Joe Biden mourned the death of George Floyd and said, “This is not an isolated incident, but part of a systematic cycle of injustice that still persists in the United States”. Many personalities from the artistic, political, sports, journalistic and society in general have spoken out against racial violence in the United States and around the world. According to Quintiere (2020), violence against blacks is quite frequent and is nothing new. According to the author, the act of insanity committed by the police against George Floyd raised complex questions about the history of racism in the United States. This episode fertilized in the memory of Americans other cases of police violence that occurred in previous years, such as the sad episode of violence against Rodney King, in 1991, in the city of Los Angeles, when four policemen beat him, in an animalistic way, with kicks and kicks, with more than fifty strokes. Even worse than the cruel beating was the absorption of the aggressors who went unpunished. This absence of punishment sparked a huge uproar throughout the United States at the time.

Another episode that deserves to be remembered concerns the case that occurred on February 26, 2012, in the city of Florida, when young Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by an armed security guard who was patrolling the city’s neighborhoods, a fact that gave rise to the movement “Black Lives Matter“. According to Rodrigues (2021), the young man was only 17 years old and was heading to his father’s house, in Sanford, when he was approached and killed. It is important to note that Trayvon was not armed, nor was he suspected of any wrongdoing or infraction, but the neighborhood Trayvon was in that day had a history of many armed robberies. The night Trayvon was killed, it was raining, and when the young man was seen by security walking down the street he was considered to be one of the suspects of being a burglar. George Zimmerman, the security guard, when he saw him, didn’t think twice and shot him, with the excuse of thinking it was a robber. As in the case of Rodney King, publicly assaulted by police, which also went unpunished, and, once again, generated demonstrations in several places calling for George Zimmerman to be formally charged with the death of the Trayvon boy.

According to the newspaper of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC News), at that time, the then President of the United States, Barack Obama, said something extraordinary. The president said: “If I had a child, I would look like Trayvon. I think we should all do some soul-searching to find out how something like this could have happened and that means looking at the laws and the context in which it happened” (BBC NEWS, 23 March 2012).

The historical context of the United States shows a devaluation of the black man, who, in the 8th century, arrived in large numbers, coming from the slave trade, to be used in the services of growing tobacco, cotton, corn and rice. These blacks worked from sun up to sundown, under the worst conditions, spending up to seventeen hours working uninterrupted, having only a short time interval to have their lunch meal. Even though they are the main responsible for the country’s economic growth and development, especially in the southern region, they have always been at an economic, social and political disadvantage (KARNAL, 2007).

The death of George Floyd was filmed by people passing by and asked the security agent to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck, however, one of the military, Derek Chauvin, did not pay attention to the calls of the population. Floyd also begged for his life and cried out saying “please I can’t breathe, don’t kill me”. According to Pâmela Malva (2020), George Floyd was an icon of the anti-racist struggle, a kind father, a dedicated husband and a warrior in search of new opportunities in professional life. According to friends, George was gentle and calm. They called him Big Floyd. Pamela reports that he was always a “caring person, with a heart equal to or greater than his physical stature of almost two meters tall”. He also said that, despite all the difficulties and having been accused, in 2007, of armed robbery, Floyd was not at all in favor of violence. He made this clear in his posts on social media. In one of his In recent posts, George has been categorical about gun violence saying, “Our young generation is clearly lost” (MALVA, 2020).

Quincy, Floyd’s eldest son, said: “I want to seek justice for my father. No man or woman should lose their father like that”. And little Gianna, 6 years old, shouted for the whole world to hear: “Daddy changed the world”. Gianna’s mother said that her daughter had no idea what was really happening, and she said that expression because she heard people screaming her daddy’s name all the time (CARTA CAPITAL, 2020). Streets of the United States after the death of George Floyd are a demonstration that society no longer tolerates structural racism, which still exists in the current context. Fighting racism means fighting against ideologies of superiority of white people over black people, not fighting against individuals.

The ideology of superiority of a white subject, wearing the uniform of a State security agent, was unloaded on an unarmed subject, who did not pose any risk of death to the police, since he was already immobilized by the ominous handcuffs. Floyd’s death, effectively, is a unique moment in history, considering the scale of the problem and the impact caused internationally. Therefore, we ask: What instruments are indispensable to promote racial equality policies in a satisfactory way? How can we escape this ghost that terrifies humanity? What is the solution to get out of this brutal quagmire? For Barbara Bergmann (1996), Sabrina Moehlecke (2002) and other scholars on the subject, the solution may lie in the practice of affirmative action. This is what we will talk about next.


The racial discrimination in which the black community is immersed removes any possibility of reaching a prominent position in society. The high levels of violence against this community are the most ferocious face of this situation. “The racism that lies at the root of the extreme social upheavals experienced in virtually every country in the world, making it the last frontier of hate on the planet” (MOORE, 2007, p. 279). It is definitely clear that racism is a specific form of hate. In fact, a hatred directed peculiarly against a part of humanity, which is excluded from essential resources in terms of access to “education, public services, social services, political power, financing capital, employment opportunities, leisure, and even the right to be treated equitably by the courts of justice and peacekeeping forces” (MOORE, 2007, p. 279).

Faced with this problem of denial of rights, exclusion, blocking and violence against non-whites, a question arises: What political instruments are necessary to satisfactorily guarantee the right to racial equality? Before answering this question, we consider it important to mention the historical process of legislation in the course of the perception of equal rights for all. According to the magazine Âmbito Jurídico, historically, the proposal to deconstruct social inequality, involving the black population, permeates the legal legislation, which has, worldwide and for years, been working to ensure the legislative rights indicated by the constitutions and the rights humans (REVISTA JURÍDICA, 2015).

In search of answers to questions of racial imbalance between whites and non-whites, in 1968, the first record of the implementation of affirmative actions in Brazil was prepared. In this first document, the main purpose was to build and enact a law, through technicians from the Public Ministry of Labor, which would oblige companies, more specifically private ones, to hire and maintain in their workforce a percentage of at least 10 to 20 % of black people. This proposal had the objective of alleviating the problem of racial discrimination regarding the labor market, which valued the white subject more to the detriment of the black subject. But, surprisingly or not, this law did not even get off the ground, and labor social exclusions continued to exist (REVISTA JURÍDICA, 2015).

Fifteen years after the first attempt, in 1983, the discussion on the inclusion of blacks in the labor market returned to the stage, this time through federal deputy Abdias Nascimento, who introduced Law No. 1,332. In this law, once again, a reserve of 20% was proposed, both for women and for blacks, in the selection of candidates for public service. Everything seemed to be working out for the reversal of racial discrimination, however, once again, the project was not approved by Congress, and everything went back to square one. It is necessary to say that the requests remained, through movements and mobilizations, aiming to find solutions to the problem of violence against black people (REVISTA JURÍDICA, 2015).

Sabrina Moehlecke (2002) presents the affirmative action system as one of the alternatives capable of minimizing the problem of racial discrimination and exclusion still present in the current context. According to the author, the term “affirmative action” originated in the United States, with the struggle for internal democratization, led by Martin Luther King in the 1960s, mainly intended to guarantee the right of blacks to vote and be voted on. The movement had the intention of realizing the right to equality for all. It is in this scenario that the proposition of affirmative action arises, which aimed to obtain from the State a political stance that would improve the conditions of the black population (MOEHLECKE, 2002). Soon, the idea of ​​affirmative action spread to several parts of the world. “Similar experiences took place in several Western European countries, in India, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, Nigeria, South Africa, Argentina, Cuba, among others” (MOEHLECKE, 2002).

The expression affirmative action appears with different interpretations among scholars on the subject. For Barbara Bergmann (1996), the term has a broad meaning, and means planning and executing actions in order to enable the representation of certain types of people, who remain subject to the whims of those who consider themselves superior. For the author, affirmative action is an entity that fights for the rupture of tradition, which always elevates and promotes only white people, because they are considered more qualified to perform functions and activities than black people. For her, “affirmative action can be a formal and written program, a plan involving multiple parties and with employees in charge of it, or it can be the activity of an entrepreneur who has consulted his conscience and decided to do things in a different way” (BERGMANN, 1996, p.7).

For Guimarães (1997), affirmative actions are directly linked to the democratic process through which inferior societies have the opportunity to participate in the principle of social equality. These actions would be responsible for “promoting privileges of access to fundamental means, education and employment, especially for ethnic, racial or sexual minorities who would otherwise be excluded from these rights, in whole or in part” (GUIMARÃES, 1997, p. 233). Santos (1999) is more daring and believes that these actions are instruments with sufficient capacity to exclude social inequalities historically piled up, having the condition of providing equal rights for all, including blacks. With this probability, it would be possible to compensate for losses caused by discrimination during history (SANTOS, 2005, p. 25).


We can observe that the system as a whole, as a whole, has been failing to care for and respect racial differences. We can observe that there is still a huge fragility in relation to the guarantees of acquired rights. Black people and indigenous people still suffer from social exclusion. So, as we can see, this is not just a problem for the United States, but also for the whole world. As exposed in this work, segregation, exclusion and inequality resulting from racial discrimination exist, and must be rejected from our system, as they prevent nations, and humanity itself, from evolving. For this to really happen, we must make use of the very beneficial measures of affirmative action, which can be translated into the famous phrase of our illustrious jurist, Rui Barbosa, who stated that “we must treat unequals with inequality”. This is the true expression of equality.

In this text, we were careful to focus particularly on the case of George Floyd, an American who died on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, in the United States of America, but we could present a diverse number of cases that occurred around the world. We could not, however, make these final considerations without mentioning the case of Eric Garner, also an American, another black man who, like Floyd, suffered police violence and also died of asphyxiation, in New York, in 2014. The same sentence as Floyd said in the last moments of his life (“I can’t breathe”) was repeated by Eric Garner, repeated eleven times. All these aspects reveal a spacious battlefield and, in a way, an unequal battle, as it is fixed between individuals with political and legal power, counter-subjects considered inferior and excluded, the blacks.

All this problematic presents itself with a single name: violence. For Chauí (1998), violence is in everything that proceeds with the rigor of force to go against someone’s nature. He says more: it is every practice of authoritarianism that represses someone’s freedom against his will; it is also an act of violation of equal rights; it is any form of action that a group or society places as being better than the other, that is, pure ethnocentrism. For racism to be fought, the State must recognize the real existence of races.


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[1] Master’s student in education, specialization in high school philosophy, specialization in sociology, specialization in public policy and socio-education, degree in pedagogy.

[2] Advisor. Post-doctorate in Education and Teaching (PNPD/CAPES/MAIE/UECE). Doctor (2016) and Master (2011) in Applied Linguistics by the Postgraduate Program in Applied Linguistics at the State University of Ceará (PosLA/UECE).

Sent: December, 2020.

Approved: December, 2021.

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