Interview with a Brazilian
Which country do you consider to be your country?
I would still consider Brazil to be my country as I lived pretty much 95% of my life there. I grew up there and the way I act, the things I eat, the way I think is very related to Brazil still.
You live in Spain now. Do you think this feeling of which country you consider to be your country could change in the future?
Maybe a bit. But you have to consider that I spent the first years of my life there. Pretty much 23 years. So everything about Brazil is already attached to me. If it changes it would be in a few decades – and not everything would change. I was born and raised in Brazil so it stuck to me. My roots are Brazilian. The first 23 years of my life I spent in Brazil. It’s not like I spent 23 years in Spain.
What is a general misconception about Brazil for you?
I can list you a few that are actually very basic and should have been made clear years ago especially with the easy access to information we have now. Let me see.
About the country itself first. The thing with the language. It’s not clear to everyone that we speak Portuguese, that Portuguese is not Brazilian and that Portuguese is not Spanish. Some people think that.
Also, the rainforest doesn’t cover the whole national territory, just a part of it. We don’t live with monkeys. We don’t have tigers in our gardens. We do have a very wide fauna and flora, but in very specific places. We don’t walk around with monkey riding on lions. This example is a bit extreme now, but you’d be surprised what people thought only a few years ago.
Secondly about Brazilian people, a lot of people think we only party all year long. We do like parties a lot, we’re very open to parties. We have big parties like carnival and one of the biggest new years’ eve celebrations in the world.
But we work a lot as well. In fact, from what I’ve seen in Europe so far, Brazilians work way more than them although Europeans themselves claim to be hard workers. I’ve seen this in a lot of countries in Europe, but now that I live in Spain I would say Spain is a very good example of a not as hard-working country. People think they work hard, but they have basically two or three hours of siesta in the middle of the day and work four, five times a week.
Additional information: For example, general working hours where up to 48 hours in Brazil in the 20th century, and reduced to 46 hours per week in 2005. In 2002, for example, the general working hours in Brazil ranged from 35h in the education sector to 49h in the hotel business.*
Some of the stereotypes about Brazil are true though. We are very famous for football, for samba, for all the parties themselves, for the beaches, for everything that’s of related to that openness and to how welcome we are. But if you are a tourist, make no mistake, some people might just take advantage of you. Yes, we are very open and welcoming, but especially street vendors and people selling something might as well take advantage of you playing that nice and welcoming card.
Overall we Brazilians are really warm, happy and that’s true although it doesn’t fit to everyone. The same way samba and football and parties don’t fit to everyone there. Just like to myself. I like sports a lot, I especially football, but I’m not a big fan of samba nor Carnival. So these stereotypes are true, we have big parties all year, but they are not for everyone, even though we are always around them.
There are also some misconceptions about the women. People think Brazilian women are very sensual and easy, but from my experience and from the countries I’ve been to, it doesn’t seem to be much different somewhere else. It just depends on where you are coming from and whether you fit their standards of beauty.
Going back to Brazilian openness for a bit – people usually see Brazilians way more open than they really are. Yes we are open to tourists and stuff, but a lot of people are still really close-minded. Brazil is a very racist country even though we have one of the most mixed population in the world. Most people live with their racism, because they deny it. They think it’s okay. We are not gay friendly, even though we have a big LGTBI community and huge parades. People are also very racist towards immigrants as long as you don’t come from Europe – because then, it’s fine and nobody complains. People with darker skin or indigenous have a hard time there. But not all people from Brazil are dark skinned, we have a lot of white people as well. Blond hair, blue eyes, green eyes – it’s really a big mix.
The Brazilian attitude against gay people and darker skinned people shows in crimes rates, mortality and opportunities, either with jobs or others. It’s all percentage-based. Crime rates, university access, poverty. Where people live, where they work. Usually, you will find more darker skinned people in a Favela and you’ll rarely see a white person there. Considering your ethnicity it will also be easier or harder to get a job or access university. For example, when I went to university I had two black guys and one black girl in my class, and well, those where the numbers for all my classes. So, I would say that maybe 10 to 15% of the people in university where black. Primary school is a bit different – but also easier accessible for everyone. The higher you go up in the education, the less it gets. We do have certain percentages of how many people in university have to be black, but they do not nearly reflect the actual composition of our population.
Even though people with dark skin are the majority in Brazil, we only see white people on television, on the news, in soap-operas and in most of the movies. That’s also true for CEOs and people in a higher position in a company. If you walk around Rio, for example, you see a lot of less fortunate people selling stuff on the streets – and very rarely they are white. That’s just a reflex of how Brazilian mentality is in general.
This interview was an open, personal interview with a person that was born and raised in Brazil. I am re-writing everything as said with a bit of additional information. This blog should be a platform for people to express their opinion freely and openly. I’m also focusing on own experiences and opinions to raise awareness that a lot of countries are not like we might have them pictured in mind. Especially some downsides we usually tend to overlook. Although I knew a lot about Brazil before, I still learned something new during this interview. Brazil is not exactly like the image that first pops into our head when we talk about this beautiful country. That’s why it’s so important to get to know each other, that’s why it’s so important to talk with people about their culture and where they come from. A lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions could be easily evaded. We just have to talk to each other and develop a greater understanding for all the diversity and the beautiful difference we can find on our planet.