Brazil’s whitening ideology gained support from two scientific racist beliefs that were prominent during this time. One being Social Darwinism, which applied Darwin’s theory of natural selection to a society or race, and the other being Aryanism, the belief that the “white” Aryan race was superior to all other cultures. By combining these two ideas, a certain portion of the Brazilian power elite believed, from roughly 1880 on, that the nation could be “whitened” and thus “improved” if whites were encouraged to mate with Black
To further ensure that Brazil became whiter, a series of laws were passed prohibiting the immigration of Black people to the country. In 1945, the Brazilian government issued a decree favoring the entrance of European immigrants in the country: “In the admission of immigrants, the need to preserve and develop, in the ethnic composition of the population, the more convenient features of their European ancestry shall be considered.”
Because Brazil’s racist miscegenation agenda, lighter skin became valued more among Brazilians of African heritage, and darker-skinned individuals sought lighter-skinned partners, since the surest way to gain upward mobility is to possess whiter skin than your parents.