Colonial Legacies in Times of 'Black Lives Matter'

CES Studies

"Merit-based inclusion" and the facets of institutional racism at public universities in the state of São Paulo 

Danielle Pereira Araújo

Direito & Praxis


The state universities of São Paulo are among the last Brazilian public universities to introduce, in their selective processes, afirmative-action reservation programs with ethno-racial vacancies, more than a decade after the first university implemented this system. Even in the face of a glaring picture of racial inequality in access to higher education, why have the public universities of Sao Paulo refused to join this reservation system? The debate raised during the process of deciding whether or not to join the quota system among the professors of the three public universities provides some clues to answer this question. The analysis of the lecturer’s arguments offers an opportunity to understand how the framing of the debate about the adoption of ethnic-racial quotas – false dilemmas such as inclusion versus merit, race versus class, universal policies versus focused policies – played a crucial role in the denial of racism. These debates revealed, on the one hand, how class and race operate in the defense of privileges and, on the other, the workings of institutional racism. The present article will seek to offer a reflection about the (re) production of the Eurocentric narrative of the integration paradigm and how this narrative has prevented the confrontation of racism as a system of domination that operates, open and veiled at the same time in order to keep the structuring-racialized-of the power spaces, including public higher education, untouched.

Keywords: Affirmative action; Institutional racism; Paradigm of integration; University.


Araújo, Danielle (2019). “Inclusão com mérito” e as facetas do racismo institucional nas universidades estaduais de São Paulo, Direito & Praxis, v. 10, n. 3, 2182-2213.