Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tanya Katerí Hernández's "Racial Subordination in Latin America"

Tanya Katerí Hernández is Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Racial Subordination in Latin America: The Role of the State, Customary Law, and the New Civil Rights Response, and reported the following:
Page 99 falls towards the end of the chapter entitled “The Social Exclusion of Afro-descendants Today” and as a result does provide a useful representation of the entire book. The book describes how there are approximately 150 million people of African descent in Latin America who have been consistently marginalized as undesirable elements of the society. Latin America has nevertheless long prided itself on its absence of U.S.-styled state-mandated Jim Crow racial segregation laws. The book seeks to disrupt the traditional narrative of Latin America's legally benign racial past by comprehensively examining the existence of customary laws of racial regulation and the historic complicity of Latin American states in erecting and sustaining racial hierarchies. What is unique about the book is its focus on the salience of the customary law of race regulation for the contemporary development of racial equality laws across the region. Therefore, the book has a particular relevance for the contemporary U.S. racial context in which Jim Crow laws have long been abolished and a "post-racial" rhetoric undermines the commitment to racial equality laws and policies amidst a backdrop of continued inequality.

Page 99 details the particular ways that racial discrimination has affected Afro-Brazilian women distinctly from Afro-Brazilian men. For instance, racial discrimination for Afro-Brazilian women often takes the form of being sexually objectified as prostitutes or directed to service entrances as presumed domestic servants despite their apparel and trappings of middle-class status. They also experience exclusion from job positions explicitly and implicitly requiring “boa aparência” (a good appearance) widely understood as a white appearance. While the entire book is not devoted to the intersectional (gender and race) experiences of Afro-Latinas, page 99’s discussion of their experience of discrimination does provide an accurate representation of the overarching concern of the book about the realities of racial subordination in Latin America.
Read an excerpt from Racial Subordination in Latin America, and learn more about the book at the Cambridge University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue