This document argues that racism is a central force perpetuating socio-economic inequality in Brazil, which is one of the world's most unequal countries in socio-economic terms. The origins of racism in Brazil go back to the trade in African slaves. The notion, long widespread, that Brazil is a ?racial democracy? keeps preventing recognition of racial inequality. But this is deep and persistent; it imprisons black Brazilians in a vicious circle of poverty, academic setbacks, limited access to goods and services, discrimination in the labour market, and violence. The black movement, well established in Brazil, has fought for measures to be taken by public bodies to combat racism. The most recent achievements include: establishing a legal framework for fighting racism; a series of political discussions, lectures and conferences on racism; creating institutions to promote racial equality and the appointment of blacks to high official positions. It remains to highlight the issue of institutional racism at every level.