Brazil just observed Black Awareness Day. A look at Congress proves they need it

Brazil senate
This is what the Brazilian Senate looks like.
Evaristo SA

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — It was Black Awareness Day in Brazil on Friday, a national holiday.

Considering the levels of racial segregation and violence that spawned a #BlackLivesMatter-like movement here, it's hard to deny the Afro-Brazilian community deserves more recognition and political voice.

We looked at how well the group is represented in the nation's Congress.

The answer: not well.

Whites make up only about 48 percent of Brazil’s population but are significantly overrepresented in Congress. According to data from the Congress in Focus project by local news service Universo Online, whites make up 75.6 percent of legislators elected to Congress last year.

Now, that may sound almost as bad as the rather white United States Congress, but that's a bad standard for Brazil — thought to have the largest population of Afro-descendants anywhere outside Africa.

Brazil’s misrepresentation is even starker at the cabinet level. Just one member of President Dilma Rousseff’s cabinet is black.

Here’s a chart showing Brazil’s racial makeup:

And this chart shows the racial makeup of Brazil’s Congress: