Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Government and International Affairs

Major Professor

Bernd Reiter, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Cummings, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lawrence Morehouse, Ph.D.


Structural Racism, Afro-Descendants, Brazil, United States, Affirmative Action


Afro-Descendants suffer sustained discrimination and invisibility that is proliferated with policies that were once blatantly racist, but are now furtive. This study argues that structural racism is alive and well in liberal institutions such as publicly funded colleges and universities. Thus, structural racism is subtly replicated and reproduced within these institutions and by institutional agents who are Racist without Racism. This study builds on theories from Pierre Bourdieu, Frantz Fanon, Glen Loury and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. The juxtaposition of their theoretical arguments provides a deeper insight into how structural racism becomes a de facto reflexive phenomenon in liberal and progressive institutions such as universities, which are heralded as the epitome of racism-free spaces in colorblind states.

Inspired by Lieberman’s nested mixed methods approach, the study examines Afro-Descendants’ sustained discrimination and invisibility in publicly funded universities in New York City and the city of São Paulo. The success of race-based affirmative action is examined quantitatively in New York City and São Paulo. Semi-structured interviews are conducted with Afro-Descendant professors, students and administrators in New York City and São Paulo’s publicly funded liberal university systems. These interviews are conducted to (1) understand the respondents’ experiences in their respective liberal spaces as racial minorities; and (2) determine whether they have benefited or been harmed by a public policy designed to ameliorate their inferior positions. Overall, findings from this study suggest that structural racism exists and persists in New York City and São Paulo. Moreover, Afro-Descendant participants in both cities acknowledge and experience structural racism within their respective liberal university systems.

Mootoo_informed consent_English_Revised.pdf (205 kB)
Mootoo Informed Consent English Revised

Mootoo_informed consent_Portuguese_Revised.pdf (205 kB)
Mootoo Informed Consent Portuguese Revised