How does examining historically rooted inequity help us to compare and contrast contemporary local contexts of inequality and oppression?

Big Question: How does examining historically rooted inequity help us to compare and contrast contemporary local contexts of inequality and oppression? 

Image: Beco do Batman São Paulo, Brazil Photo by Samantha Brandauer

Time Commitment: 2.5 hours*

*Please note that this module includes two podcasts (totalling 75 min) that will take additional time and are considered preparatory for engaging with this content.

Why this Matters:

Every country or region around the world has its own history, but even so, there is interdependence. The Silk Road, the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and events such as World Wars I and II have  been experienced worldwide, but have contributed differently to each country’s individual histories, therefore creating different narratives within a shared context. What’s more, the regions that have been impacted by these events experienced them very differently, often depending on where they were positioned within an uneven power dynamic.  

While we are engaging with this toolkit, in the format of independent learning, it is hard to have an actual dialogue.  But a key part of dialogue is listening to other voices and seeking to understand perspectives different from your own.  Listening to these voices in the upcoming podcast and video will aid in your empathetic understanding on how other cultures view areas related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and open you up to new frames of reference. 

This section will examine race, language, culture and ethnicity in France, Germany and Brazil, framing the lens with which these countries have come to these identity dynamics, and highlighting some of the actions being taken.

Diving In, Part 1: Exploring the historical contexts for today’s inequities in France and Germany

Listen, Watch and Reflect:

NPR Rough Translation Logo

NPR’s Rough Translation: We don’t Say That (43 min)

Counting Germany’s ‘Invisible’ Black Population For The First Time (5 min)

Reflection Questions (10 minutes):

  • Think back to the Personal Privilege Profile that you completed in the first module. Can you draw any conclusions about your target and agent identities and the history of your own country?
  • In We don’t Say That, host Ngofeen Mputubwele points out that in France, language is a matter of national identity. What parts of your identity would you classify as national identity? How much have you been shaped by your home country?
  • Given their history, can you understand why Germany would want to not classify people by race and ethnicity? What have been the unintended consequences for underrepresented communities? 

Diving In, Part 2:  Exploring the historical contexts for today’s inequities in Brazil

Let’s return to the terms power, privilege and positionality. In order to effectively communicate across identities and cultures it is important to recognize those who are in power and the structures which have put them there. The examples in France and Germany, taken from a European context, show the contemporary effects of historical marginalization around identity in nations that, like many countries around the world given their history with colonization, slavery and World Wars I and II, have not explicitly addressed the very present racial identity of their citizens and are taking measures to do so.

We will now look at Brazil,which has often perpetuated the myth of racial democracy. Yet still, Brazil has many well-documented issues with marginalization, especially among Brazilians of indigenous and African descent. 

Read, Listen and Reflect: 

Brazil’s Colour Bind (30 minute-read)

Brazil in Black and White (32 minutes)

Reflection questions (10 minutes):

  • The Brazilian government has taken a top-down approach to addressing the country’s obvious issues with race – how is this different from US affirmative action? Is it an effective way to upend global anti-blackness?
  • What does this say about the fluidity of identity and how people choose to identify in Brazil? 
  • Can you identify anything that is similar in how Brazilian society and US society views race?

Page Completion – Outcomes

Upon completing these modules, please consider the aim of this toolkit: “We created this online inquiry and action toolkit, because we – the people of this beautiful and complex world – often do not understand and embrace our interdependence well enough.” In this module, we have invited you to:

  • Examine who you are, 
  • Examine how your identity relates to a certain place
  • Interrogate power, privilege and positionality not just from a contemporary standpoint, but a historical one as well, recognizing the intergenerational effects of identity politics. 
  • Take the time to understand how local contexts of inequality and oppression are rooted within the historical contexts of three different countries.

As aforementioned, we do not exist in individual vacuums–we must do all that we can to ensure that our interactions and transactions of identity are carried out in just, sustainable and inclusive ways. By being culturally self aware as well as informed about issues affecting marginalized people around the world, we can all learn how to embrace our interdependence. 

Citation for this page: Sandiford, N., DeGuzman, K. & Brandauer, S. (2021). Using the Intercultural Praxis Model to Build Bridges: Identity, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in a Global Context. How does examining historically rooted inequity help us to compare and contrast contemporary local contexts of inequality and oppression? (Module 2).  In S. Brandauer and E. Hartman (Eds.). Interdependence: Global Solidarity and Local Actions. The Community-based Global Learning Collaborative. Retrieved from: 

See Also:

Further Engagement:

Khan-Perry, Keisha. (2004). The Roots of Black Resistance: Race, Gender and the Struggle for Urban Land Rights in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Social Identities, Volume 10, Number 6, 


Araujo, Ana Lucia. (2015, June 22)  The mythology of racial democracy in Brazil. Open Democracy – Beyond Trafficking and Slavery. Retrieved from:

Telles, Edward. Racial Discrimination and Miscegenation: The Experience in Brazil. The UN Chronicle. Retrieved from:

Nolen, Stephanie. Brazil’s Color Bind. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from:

Video and Audio Resources

How does colonialism shape the world we live in? | The Stream. (2019, December 9). [Video]. YouTube.

Rough Translation by NPR. We Don’t Say That. (2019, May 1) [Podcast]. Retrieved from:

Counting Germany’s ‘Invisible’ Black Population for the First Time. (2020, June 4). [Video]. Youtube.

Rough Translation by NPR. Brazil in Black and White (2019, August 21) [Podcast]. Retrieved from: