Opinion – Michael França: 5 reasons why we (don’t) vote for women, blacks and indigenous people


1st) Awareness

In recent years, in various parts of the world, considerable progress has been made in the discussion related to diversity. In Brazil, a country whose history is marked by exclusion, there is still much to be done to build a less segregated and unequal society.

Inclusion is not an ingrained value in our culture. Despite recent advances in the awareness that the representation of minorities in all social spaces is relevant to the process of socioeconomic development, often even those who say they are in favor of diversity do not usually present actions consistent with such a position. Many rely on this discourse because it is politically correct and, curiously, let inertia lead to the natural reproduction of inequalities that tend to favor them.

2) Racial and gender bias

History has a silent, indirect way of shaping who we are today. Over time, social construction has generated a number of advantages for certain groups and disadvantages for others. Although we live in a historical moment in which various inherited privileges are being systematically challenged, the process of change is slow and gradual.

Unfortunately, it will not be overnight that we will be able to end all the discriminatory practices that took years to become naturalized in our behavior, and that are ingrained in our culture and our institutions. Recurrently, directly and indirectly, consciously and inconsistently, we discriminate in favor of the dominant group: high-income white men.

3) Access to resources

In addition to voters tending to discriminate against minorities in different ways and intensities in each region of the country, candidates who are not part of the dominant group also need to overcome several barriers to achieve some level of visibility. Accessing resources is just one of those challenges. He, however, is critical to making any candidate’s campaign competitive.

In 2014, while black female candidates for federal deputy received, on average, R$45,000, white men received R$486,000. In addition, about 80% of the candidates did not have even 20% of the total resources. Such data are part of an extensive study that I carried out jointly with researchers Sergio Firpo, Alysson Portella and Rafael Tavares, associated with Insper’s Center for Racial Studies. Entitled “Racial Inequality in Brazilian Elections”, the work was published by this Sheet and other vehicles.

4) Political agenda

Increasing the representation of minorities in institutional politics tends to influence decision-making and the order of priority of the political agenda. There is significant heterogeneity in worldviews among the most distinct social groups and, thus, public choices are affected with the intensification of the inclusion process. This is something that not everyone wants in our society. Changing the rules of the game always annoys the winning team.

5th) Agenda

In the case of blacks, many candidates make considerable contributions to the advancement of the racial debate by raising the issue in their candidacies. However, many are stuck exclusively to this agenda and, in this way, end up vying for votes among themselves. Expanding the agenda would help dialogue with a larger share of the electorate and, consequently, win more votes.

The text is a tribute to the song Politely, by Tony Allen.

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