Report on Black Fatherhood in Brazil

Versão em inglês do Primeiro Relatório das Paternidades Negras do Brasil 

About this report

Daniel Costa Lima and Luciano Ramos

As the Colombian anthropologist Mara Viveros Vigoya writes, it is necessary to “undermine the idea of an abstract, universal and disembodied masculinity” (2018, p. 24), and one of the ways to do this is to draw attention to the fact that “colonized men were never the ones who defined the ideal masculinity” (Vincent Joly, 2011. In: Vigoya, 2018).[1] Henrique Restier follows a similar path when he states that the “pretense of universality and neutrality produced by male whiteness lends it an unparalleled normative power, causing it to be taken as a measure of (almost) everything”.[2] Unquestionably among these things is fatherhood, since it is necessary to recognize that it was not colonized men, much less non-white men from colonized countries, such as Brazil, who defined and continue to define what “ideal paternity” is”. This report represents an unprecedented effort to bring black fathers and black fatherhood to the forefront. This report exists because black fathers exist and resist. According to the last census of the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics/IBGE (2015), 55.8% of the Brazilian population declare themselves as “black” (46.5% as brown and 9.3% as black[3]) and 43, 1% as “white”. Nonetheless, when we look at indicators such as income, employment, education, health, violence, and political representation, we quickly see the imbalance and inequality between whites and blacks in our country. In summary, what these indicators show is that being black fundamentally impacts all aspects of the lives of brown and black people in Brazil. So, why shouldn’t it also impact the experience of fatherhood (and motherhood) of the black Brazilian population? This question, apparently obvious, needs to be asked so that we can better understand this scenario and draw strategies that guarantee to the largest portion of the population of Brazil, the rights described in our Federal Constitution and in other legal provisions, such as the Statute of the Child and Adolescent. The dialogue between professor Henrique and his son Pedro, in the book “O Avesso da Pele”, by Jeferson Tenório, gives us the magnitude of the reach of skin color in a white world:

You always said that black people had to fight, because the white world had taken almost everything from us and that thinking was all we had left.

It is necessary to preserve the inside out, you told me. Preserve what no one sees. Because it doesn’t take long and the color of the skin crosses our body and determines our way of being in the world. And as much as your life is measured by color, as much as your attitudes and ways of living are under that domain, you somehow have to preserve something that doesn’t fit that, you know? Because between muscles, organs and veins there is a place of its own, isolated and unique. And that’s where the affections are. And it is these affections that keep us alive. (p. 55)[4]

As Silvio Almeida (2019) states, “In a world where race defines life and death, not taking it as an element of analysis of major contemporary issues demonstrates the lack of commitment to science and to solving the world’s major ills.” (2019, p. 57).[5]


[1] VIGOYA, Mara Viveros (2018). As cores da masculinidade: Experiências interseccionais e práticas de poder na Nossa América. Papeis Selvagens.

[2] RESTIER, Henrique (2018) Por que tenho orgulho de ser um olhem negro? Available in:

[3] In Brazil, the national census considers black anyone who declares themselves black or brown.

[4] TENÓRIO, Jeferson (2020). O avesso a pele. Companhia das Letras.

[5] ALMEIDA, Silvio Luiz de (2020). Racismo Institucional. São Paulo: Sueli Carneiro; Editora Jandaíra.