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Fri, 09.07.1500

Pardo (the term), a definition

*On this date from 1500, Pardo is briefly described, coinciding with the date of Brazil’s independence from Portugal in the 19th century.   

Pardo a Portuguese and Spanish term used in their colonies in the Americas.  It refers to the multiracial descendants of Europeans, Indigenous and West African people. In some places they were defined as neither exclusively mestizo (Indigenous American-European descent), nor Mulatto (West African-European descent), nor zambo (Indigenous American-West African descent).  The term pardo was first used in a Brazilian census in 1872.

The following census, in 1890, replaced the word pardo by mestiço (that of mixed origins). The censuses of 1900 and 1920 did not ask about race, arguing that "the answers largely hid the truth".  In colonial Mexico, pardo "became virtually synonymous with mulatto, thereby losing much of its indigenous referencing." In the eighteenth century, pardo might have been the preferred label for blackness. Unlike negropardo had no association with slavery.  Casta paintings from eighteenth-century Mexico use the label negro never pardo to identify Africans paired with Spaniards.  In Brazil, the word pardo has had a general meaning, since colonization.

In the letter by Pero Vaz de Caminha, for example, in which Brazil was first described by the Portuguese, the Indigenous Americans were called "pardo": "Pardo, naked, without clothing". The word has been used to cover African/European mixes, South Asian/European mixes, Amerindian/European/South Asian/African mixes and Indigenous Americans themselves ever since.In Brazil, pardo is a race/skin color category used by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) in Brazilian censuses, with historic roots in the colonial period.  

In the 21st century, the term "pardo" is commonly used to refer to mixed-race Brazilians, with varied racial ancestries. The other categories are branco ("White"), negro ("Black"), amarelo ("Yellow", meaning East Asians), and indígena ("indigene" or "Indigenous person", meaning Amerindians).  The term is still common in Brazil. According to IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics), pardo is a broad classification that encompasses Multiracial Brazilians mixed with Europeans or not.  

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