This article examines the significance of apartheid in the interpretation and contestation of Brazilian race relations in the twentieth century, tracing an evolution away from a midcentury project by Brazilian intellectuals and politicians who criticized South African apartheid in order to promote a positive national self-definition. The article traces the appropriation of the antiapartheid struggle by Brazil's emerging black civil rights movement in the 1980s and 1990s as a didactic tool for tracing the lines of racial discrimination and inequality in Brazil. The article's focus on Brazilian discourse about apartheid permits an examination of changes in Brazilian racial politics that includes a shift from the denial of the existence of racism (in comparison with South Africa) to a diagnosis of racial discrimination (again aided by comparison with South Africa) and deployment of race-conscious policies to promote inclusion.

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