The late Oliver C. Cox, one of the most insightful black Americans from the leftist tradition, was not often fooled. In his classic 1948 work, Caste, Class, and Race, Cox, a long-time professor of sociology at Lincoln University in Missouri, revealed the nonsensical underpinnings of what then passed for the serious study of comparative race relations among sociologists in the United States. So successful was Cox that his book was thoroughly and deeply buried by the sociological establishment. When Pierre L. van den Berghe published Race and Racism: A Comparative Perspective in 1967, sociologists hailed his work as the first of its kind, thereby demonstrating that they had forgotten Cox's work, or at least managed to convince themselves that they had forgotten it.

But, while Cox was not taken in by the pretensions of white sociologists (whether born in the United States or imported from Sweden by white sociologists born in the United States) or by the black elites in such varied places as Liberia and Haiti, he was fooled by the Brazilians. He wrote of the "Portuguese's remarkable freedom from race prejudice in Brazil." In reality, of course, neither the Portuguese nor their Brazilian descendants were free from race prejudice. But Cox was not the only Afro-American to conclude that Brazilian society was free of racism. Such astute North American black observers as E. Franklin Frazier and Robert S. Abbott were also taken in.

Works reviewed include: The Abolition of Slavery and the Aftermath of Emancipation in Brazil, by Rebecca J. Scott et al; Luso-Brazilian Review, Volume 25, 1988. Guest Editor, Stuart B. Schwartz; Race, Class, and Power in Brazil, Pierre-Michel Fontaine (Ed.).


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