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     Home | Ethnic Group | Afro-Brazilian

In Brazil, the term "preto" (black, lowercase) is one of the five categories used by the Brazilian Census, along with "branco" (White), "pardo" (Multiracial, brown), "amarelo" (yellow, East Asian) and "indígena" (Amerindian). In 2009, 13,252,000, 6.9% of the Brazilian population, self-identified themselves as preto.

In recent years, Brazilian government agencies such as the SEPPIR and the IPEA, in their analysis of socioeconomic indicators, have been considering the categories "preto" and "pardo" together, as a single category called "negro" (Black, capital initial), since the indicators of living conditions of "pardos" and "pretos" are similar and the word "negro" can be used in other contexts, and not only when addressing pretos. However, this decision has caused much controversy, because there isn't consensus about it in Brazilian society.

Black Brazilians rarely use the American-style phrase "African Brazilian" to categorise themselves, and never in informal discourse: the IBGE's July 1998 PME shows that, of Black Brazilians, only about 10% consider themselves of "African origin"; most of them identify as having a "Brazilian origin". In the July 1998 PME, the categories "Afro-Brasileiro" (Afro-Brazilian) and "Africano Brasileiro" (African Brazilian) weren't used even once; the category "Africano" (African) was used by 0.004% of the respondents. In the 1976 PNAD, none of these were used even once.

Brazilian geneticist Sérgio Pena has criticised American scholar Edward Telles for lumping "pretos" and "pardos" in the same category. According to him, "the autosomal genetic analysis that we have performed in non-related individuals from Rio de Janeiro shows that it does not make any sense to put "pretos" and "pardos" in the same category".

In support of Sérgio Pena, for example, another autosomal genetic study on a school in the poor periphery of Rio de Janeiro found that the "pardos" there were found to be on average over 80% European, even though they (the tested students) thought of themselves as 1/3 European, 1/3 African and 1/3 Amerindian before the tests.According to Edward Telles, in Brazil there are three different systems related to "racial classification" along the White-Black continuum. The first is the Census System, which distinguishes three categories: "branco" (White), "pardo", and "preto". The second is the popular system that uses many different categories, including the ambiguous term "moreno" (literally, "tanned", "brunette", or "with an olive complexion"). The third is the Black movement system that distinguishes only two categories, summing up "pardos" and "pretos" (blacks, lowercase) as "negros" (Blacks, with capital initial). More recently, the term "afrodescendente" has been brought into use, but it is restricted to very formal discourse, such as governmental or academic discussions, being viewed by some as a cultural imposition from the "politically correct speech" common in the United States.

A large but unknown number of Brazilians have some African ancestry. Due to intensive mixing and assortative mating with White Brazilians, Brazilians with African ancestors may or may not be "Black", i.e., they may or may not show any trace of African features.

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