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October 16, 2008


Entrevistando Expatriados

Hello Rachel,
My name is Mirella and I got here from a friend, Jeanne.
Entrevistando Expatriados is a blog which interview Brazilian expats around the world... I know you are not Brazilian, but we believe would be nice to have a interview about your life as a expat in Brazil.
What do you think?
The blog is primarily in portuguese, would you mind answering in portuguese? I would keep the same questions as I make for the Brazilian expats...
Please let me know your thoughts.


i agree with tim. i am a brazilian who grew up in the us and is now living in brazil, and i focused a great part of my studies and extracurricular undergrad activities on multiculturalism and international relations/studies. from my experience, for the most part, it is white americans who like to point things out as racist or not politically correct without ever being on "the other side," yet these are the same people who laugh at black jokes stand up comedians make or think that the simpsons is comedic genius.

if any of you who commented on this blog post negatively towards the ad and you are not a white american or brazilian who has lived outside of brazil for more than 10 years, and/or don't find tv shows such as the Simpsons, Family Guy, South Park, Mind of Mencia, The Chappelle Show, ANY stand up comedy, etc. funny... a. you officially have no sense of humor or b. you have never experience true racism in the community or country you live in. if there is a c., i'd love to talk to you so please e-mail me bc i find these sort of cultural issues fascinating!

my point of view? don't judge another society for being racist when you are not a part of it - this is what is racist and unacceptable. don't assume the culture being imitated or talked about is thinking the same thing you are because that's just pure ignorance and disrespectful. celebrate difference. don't try to become a melting pot and pretend everyone was born equal - find beauty in that which is different. do your research and find out exactly why certain things are being portrayed a certain way before jumping to conclusions. stop being such a stereotypical american who finds an excuse to cause controversy because you're right and the rest of the world is wrong - imperialism and xenophobia is archaic, not embracing and recognizing differences.

i know rachel didn't mean to open this pandora's box with this blog post, but i couldn't help but comment twice because it's debates like this that get me going :-) beijoss.


Maybe it’s politically incorrect but I don’t see it as racist. They’re not mocking Asian persons they are just make a reference. Somebody else already mentioned what happened with the Spanish basketball team at the Olympics, everybody made a huge fuss but the Chinese didn’t seem offended. The way people see things is very different from country to country. So, politically incorrect yes, racist, I don’t think so. Just my thoughts.

M :)

Patricia Yui: Two words-- wrong blog!

Raquel Keshi

I don't know how you people live in your own countries, but I'm pretty sure that you are too serious. Even a little neurotic.

That "racist paranoia", at least on this level, is very rare here. We don't have one single family here that doesn't have some kind of ethinic mixture!

My best example: My own family.
My mom have european family (italian and german) and african family (my great-grandmother). She is blonde.
My dad have european family too (spanish and portuguese), with black and indian relatives. He is what we call here "mestiço".
My older sister is black.
My little sister is blonde.
I'm not a white girl. I'm mestiça too.
My family is an ethinic milkshake. And I think it's beautiful and amazing.

Racist people exist in anywhere. Here too. But compare Apartheid with a silly soap-opera ad? People, this is getting ridiculous.

We have more to concern about. Much more. It's pointless to discuss an inexistent level of racism on a soap-opera ad.


It's definitely ironic to see people saying things about how brazilians have no respect for other cultures when you are bashing them back for being the way they are. What is politically icorrect, say, in the US, might not be in other places. It's just a cultural difference, don't get your panties in a knot because people see things differently in other countries.


I want to address the point that only white Americans are offended by this ad. As an Asian-American, I am very offended.

To address a second point brought up, just because there are perception that the Chinese were "ok" with the Spanish ad during the Olympics does not preclude me or anybody else from being offended.

In my opinion, racism and it's ugliness has been enshrined in our national psyche and been an issue throughout our history. As Americans, we are hyper-sensitive when caricatures are used to represent a group of people. Two instances have occurred with companies using caricatures of Asians to drive their own profits: http://www.tolerance.org/news/article_tol.jsp?id=975 and http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2002/04/18/MN109646.DTL

In both instances, I was very offended.

Am I saying that the Brazilians are wrong to run this ad? No. Am I saying that America is superior on racial equality? Definitely not. Yes, there are cultural differences between how Americans and Brazilians will respond to this ad. And you all know how this Asian-American is responding.


Just the fact to call yourself as Asian-American and the other as white Americans tells how racist is your culture. You split yourself by color skin or by your ancestry. This what I call racism, meaning, segregating by race.


I think that is it okay to show the differences of cultures. What is wrong and prejudiced is to say that we Brazilian are behind the times that Americans are in. The point is that some Americans are unable to see this issue as something cultural. It is natural here [in Brazil] and inoffensive to point out our difference since we live amongst thousands of different races and colors. Here we learn to embrace our differences and be proud of them, this way we are not offended by these kinds of jokes. so... it is not racism and certainly not prejudice.

David H

As a person of Asian descent in North America, I'm offended. As a world traveler who's been to Brazil, Spain, and other countries, I can see where this kind of thing is not necessarily seen in a racist kind of light.

That being said, it's still no excuse. I think you'll find that most Asians in Asia have a tremendous amount of respect and fascination for the western world but they make no efforts to go out of their way to point out someone else's phenotype in such a way that mass media needs to pick up on it.

All I'm saying is it seems fairly hedgemonic and wrong for other nations to presume that something's funny when the underlying intention is one of slight mockery more than true respect.


Textbook definition racist? no. Corny as hell and in very bad taste? Mos Def. Ignorance is bliss.


mallory elise

holy crap look at all the comments!!

what i have scientifically deduced from reader response to the whole issue: You're damned if you do, damned if you don't. Never will everyone be pleased or of the same opinion. but at least we're willing to talk about it eh?

Ray Adkins

Both sides of the discussion are correct, each one with their own point of view!
Long story short, this controversy is clearly offensive in the US, Canada and maybe in some other countries but absolutely not offensive in Brazil or Globo wouldn't be crazy to produce an add like that.
This is clearly not offensive in Spain or CHINA either for that matter...
I have to say that this is my personal opinion on this specific matter and I don't see anything wrong from the Brazilian's point of view either, however I would never approve an add like this in the US.
On another note I do think Brazilians are super racist and they are so deeply racist they are not even aware of it...maybe not so much towards Asians because the truth of the matter is that Asians are rare in Brazil, mostly the Japanese in Parana and Sao Paulo and a handful of Korean and Chinese in Rio and Sao Paulo, you rarely will ever find Asian-Brazilians outside of these areas.
On the other hand, we experienced extreme racism in Brazil towards Blacks or mixed ( most Northeasterners ), in the 80's., we clearly remember the "maids" weren't even allowed in the same elevators with their bosses.
The biggest form of racism, just look around any Brazilian city, whites are driving their cars while the millions of mixed and blacks are ridding the crowed buses and trains...
Whites are strolling around their fancy and safe Malls while the blacks and mixed are NOT, because they are completely excluded from that lifestyle...
Rio is another obvious sign of racism, while the blacks live in horrible conditions in the slums, the whites are appreciating the nice ocean view from their beach front apartments...
As someone else pointed here before, Brazilians are in the stone age when it comes to racism, they can't even acknowledge it yet!
Super Sensitive! ABSOLUTELY! The reaction or over reaction from the previous comments are here to prove it...
Racism exists in my country too, we had a horrible period dealing with it in the 50's and 60's, however we have clear signs of progress, and maybe even the biggest sign of progress if Barack Obama is elected in two weeks...



Oi Rachel, vc acha que a propaganda é racista ou politicamente incorreta porque só tem atores brancos e/ou porque eles estão puxando os olhos pra parecerem chineses?

acabei de aprender o porquê da expressão negócio da China e, como os portugueses estiveram por lá também, pode ser que eles tenham criado essa expressão já que, em inglês, não faz sentido.

acho que muitas vezes os americanos exageram no que vêem...


Denise Arcoverde

I'm a brazilian who just left Washington, DC to live in South Korea. I have been always interested in the Asian culture, but now that it is part of my daily life I am reading everything I can about it and found this discussion very interesting.

I agree with somebody who said that brazilians don't have very much experience in living around asians, maybe it can be hard to see how this people has been seriously stereotyped and suffered because of that. In my opinion, this ad is racist, but I don't think that people who created it even understood that (I have a long category in my blog about how bad ads can be...).

Brazilians, like other people (including chinese and koreans), are very, very racist. The difference is that some of us believe that we live in a racial paradise and I agree with many of you that this so not true.

I prefer the honesty of the racism here in Anacostia (I am in DC now), than the fantasy island in which many brazilians live and that only can be good for the privileged white people. Black people in Brazil is in a much worse situation than the african-americans.

I`ve been writing a lot about it, for many years... but in Portuguese...

Ah... I like and try to be very politically correct, no shame on me for that. And I am very fun, I promise, just never have fun hurting other people ;-)

Ray Adkins

This is clearly a non issue in Brazil or Globo wouldn't have produced the ads...
I do think Americans are too paranoid about "political correctness" and "racism" and some are always looking for an opportunistic chance to sue and make some extra cash!!!
Brazilians and Americans alike are very racist, most "closet" racists...however in the US all races have more access to opportunity and in Brazil much less...unless they play soccer, that is only one of the rare exceptions, when we lived in Brazil in the 90's, there were certain imported cars such as the "Eclipse" or the "Grand Cherokee" that some members of the white elite refused to buy because they were associated with "soccer players", in other words, people said, if you drive one of those you must be "black" and a "soccer player", that says more about the lack of opportunity for blacks in Brazil than anything else...
Brazilians are SUPER sensitive to criticism and that has to do with the hot Latin blood more than anything else.
Back to the subject of the post, Spain made a similar picture for the Olympics and the Chinese were not offended at all, they were actually flattered!
This is like saying if I call you an Arab I am insulting you!
Being an Arab is not a bad thing, but society has come to accept that...
Being Chinese is not a bad thing, so why imitating a Chinese's eyes would be a bad thing? That is why Chinese didn't take offense in that...
The individual who wrote "How would Brazilians like if Chinese made a soap opera called "Brazilian Business" "Negocio do Brasil" is completely off the subject and completely missing the point, besides the fact that the only achievement with the idiotic comment was to offend Brazilians for sure...
John McCain is taking heat now in the US because this past week a woman in one of his rallies said that Barrack Obama is an Arab and McCain said "No mam, Obama is a good man!" WHAT? WHAT? Does he mean being an Arab is not the same as being a good man?
Being Chinese is nothing bad or nothing to be ashamed of, having stretched eyes, big lips, wide nose, dark skin color, blonde hair, Arab, Muslim etc...are not bad things and simply pointing this characteristics is NOT RACISM, to qualify an act as RACISM you need to have malice and the intend to offend.
We, Americans need to relax a little and take a closer look at the subject and review some radical jumpy conclusions about other country's cultures.
Brazilians, like a Brazilian friend told me once, "WE ARE NOT RACIST, THEY ARE NOT EVEN A RACE!" Absurd? You bet!
That is how far in the RACISM subject Brazilians are, I do agree with the stone age assessment, they haven't even had a civil rights movement in Brazil, they do copy a few thing from the US into their laws from time to time, when it looks convenient.
They have had a wait and see "culture" towards the development of civil rights advancement in Brazil, since the time of slaves, they waited until the US freed our slaves and if it worked they would apply in Brazil.
They are doing the same with Gay rights...
Oh, last but not least, for the Brazilian who said some of us are poisoning his country with these ideas should leave! Don't worry, I already left, and by the way, this is a virtual space, people here are not necessary in your country, ideas should flow freely and if you don't like it and consider it poison, YOU are the one that has to leave, you came here voluntarily in the first place.



Patricia, you can't tell someone their perception is wrong. That's Lori's experience in Brazil and the way she has seen and felt thing.

Also, your fellow countrywoman Alexandra, also pointed out that she feels similar about the way Brazilians interact with each other.

You have one opinion but Lori is allowed to have hers as well. What I'm trying to say is, get off her back. There was no need for you to attack one particular commenter.


I dont think at ALL its racism. And also, spaniards and italians also dont think so.

It seems this is something from the anglo-saxon world, as far as I know, as those spanish ads ALSO only caused furor in US and England.

Now, imho, its just RIDICULOUS to think this is racism. Racism implies discrimination or mocking.

Saying this is racism is the same thing as saying that it would be racism if for the german olympics everybody had blond hair, or for the portuguese olympics, everybody had mustaches, or for the mexican olympics, everybody had sombreros.

Maybe the REAL reason for americans and english to consider this RACIST is that THEY HAVE much more of an attitude problem against China than Brazil has. (probably because China is becoming so powerful). Chinese and japanese are very admired here.

Maybe its just that americans USED the slint eye to make fun of orientals (which as far as I know, its also considered an offensive word in english... which is moronic, since its the contrary of OCIDENTAL!!) If thats so, thats AMERICANS problems. They transformed it into an offense, so they shouldnt use INSIDE their country, not compain about its use in other parts of the world where there is no RACIST CONOTATION AT ALL!

Brazil is quite proud of its HUGE japanese population. I doubt many countries in the world do so much fuss about something as Brazil did about the 100th anniversary of japanese immigration to Brazil. There were TV miniseries, entire magazines dedicated to... it occopied all our media. We are really proud of it. This is NOT a country that uses slint eyes as RACISM, but rather, as a compliment, because we DO NOT associate it with any negative things!

Also, again remembering the quantity of japanese in Brazil, if this was offensive in some way, the japanese community would have reacted against it. They are quite influential in Brazil, specially in São Paulo, the center of Brazilian media and advertising.

I guess that even after saying all that, many americans/english still wont be convinced. Well, the same way I will never be convinced by americans/english that this is racism.

Thus, I guess people should judge less people from other countries. If brazilians say that is NOT racism, you should just believe. The same way I will believe its racism WHEN AN AMERICAN does it.


just want to point out that it seems that while americans are too conscious about anything PHYSICAL, they are not AT ALL about CULTURAL differences.

like if they ended racism by convincing themselves that there is no problem in blacks being black, as long as they ACT like western americans. There is no problems in the world having people from other countries in all shapes and sizes, as long as they act as americans.

"they way WE act is the right, advanced, 21st century way". Come on! You were able to be much more racist and stereotype brazilian culture in two pages of answers than whatever thing there was in that ad.

And then some people said brazilians lack self criticism? Hmphhh


to finish my rant, just want to point out that I am not being defensive about Brazil in this case (as some have said, and then using the stereotype of latinos being hot blooded etc... quite funny, that one of the comments here was from a brazilian-japanese woman), because in an international discussion, I had already discussed all this with english and americans when the subject were the spanish ads.

For those who dont know, btw, it seems the spanish ads were made for a CHINESE company, which loved the ads. Chinese themselves saw nothing wrong with it. I am sure chinese are proud of their country and of their eyes. And I am sure the chinese were much more offended by all the negativity about their country and culture put forward DAY AFTER DAY by british and american press, during the Olympics, than by any brazilian or spanish ad.

ps: the expression "Negócio da China" (China Deal, China Business), which means "AWESOME DEAL/BUSINESS" is controverial, but everything indicates its MUCH older than the 19th century and the Opium war. It being related to the Opium war is like those who say FORRO comes from english "FOR ALL" and the american base in the northeast during the WW2. Not true.

The expression is OLDER and it seems it appeared with the portuguese travels to the far east. Extremelly advantageous business. If they sent the caravel ships, and only ONE returned, the business would already be ultra profitabble.

I am sure the Chinese like the expression btw, unlike James said. It implies great business opportunity. And the Chinese love to do business. Their love to do business is exactly what originated the expression, since ancient times China supplied the most wonderful goods to the world.


Riogringa, as you would have probably noticed, we have no prejudice about foreigners. On the contrary, "brasileiros" generally embrace them and treat them very well. Just trying to make some points clear, if you are interested in, of course,there´s an expression in Brasil, called: " This is a China´s business". It means that the transaction is going to give much money back. Maybe you did not know about this expression, maybe you are influenced about your culture, in which every little issue is about prejudice, racial problems, and law. Despite the fact that we had slavery in "Brasil", we do not hate Portugal and portuguese people. Differently from some ex-colonies of Portugal ( I mean many african countries), as I could see personally during the period I lived there.Well, I hope you do not get upset about my comments, but I am sure you´ve never visited any emmigration bureau in NY (your city) airport to know what prejudice and lack of justice is. I´ve been there before, for nothing, just because I am "brasileira";and, by the end of the day, the agent just told me it was a mistake. Please, after a 3 hour waiting for an answer, having four stamps on my passport from the US already. You should visit and check how they treat children and their mothers. You would figure out that :everybody is guilty, untill they prove the contrary in your Country... pitty, but lack of justice and respect are everywhere, and going further... it is not a matter of one country, it is in human blood. I am not trying to say that Brasil is perfect, there´s not such a thing. We need many improvements in many fields, but at this point you´ve gone wrong.Do not be so radical at judging people as you do, for you are not perfect either.This is the reason why you are on planet Earth. I am not saying that we must see things wrong and just go with the flow, but we must respect limits, and your judment attittude does not differ a bit from the so called "racist and no politically correct" you said before,for you are doing the same.Just a last word:when you have one finger of your hand pointing to someone... do not forget the other three pointing to yourself.By the way, I am an expat just like you. I´ve already lived in Costa Rica, Portugal, Egypt and now Maldives... lessons learned: respect people´s rights and culture; do not have expectations about how they SHOULD do wrong or right( remember your perspective is different from the others), and third: everything is an opportunity to learn, to improve, FIRST, ourselves. Enjoy my city and my country.


So weird. You won't believe how long it took me to realize that in the US it is politically incorrect to state that asians have slanted eyes! To me, this ad is plain CHEESY. I would've designed it differently. But, as I usually say, nem tanto nem tampouco. This reluctance by Americans to recognize clear, simple, and harmless differences between races is excessively prudish and creates tension. When I moved here people had no problem "informing" me that I could not call myself white, something I had always done. And we still have to wonder if it's appropriate to state that someone's eyes are slanted when clearly it is so? It's a hypocritical taboo. Racism is when you think less of someone because of their races, when you treat them differently. It's not racist to say that someone is blonde or brunette, if they have blue or brown eyes, so what's the deal with slanted eyes? It's just another physical attribute, and when you recognize it as such, racism slips out of the question. See Morgan Freeman's view on racism for another very sober outlook on the subject.


Bem Rachel,
É racismo e não é. Para analisar isso é preciso entender a cultura. E cultura é diferente de língua, cultura é um universo próprio impossível de ser apreendido inteiramente por livros ou vivenciando-o através de seu próprio "óculos". Não dá pra analisar uma cultura do ponto de vista da sua própria cultura, tentando adequá-la ou julgá-la com seus próprios parâmetros (que, afinal, também foram socialmente incutidos em si!). É impossível, até para o maior dos antropólogos, achar que conseguirá se desvencilhar de sua própria cultura e ser "imparcial". Somos seres sociais e nossas ações, fora de contexto, não terão o mesmo sentido. Esse é um dos grandes erros antropológicos, que acabaram levando inúmeras culturas a serem tratadas como "primitivas", "bárbaras", etc ao longo da história, quando, na verdade estavam totalmente ajustadas a sua realidade (e não à do pesquisador, claro!). Será racismo nos EUA e Inglaterra, por exemplo, onde isso evidentemente será socialmente visto como ofensa. No Brasil ou na Espanha, não, nunca a intenção foi ofender, mas agradar (e é socialmente visto como algo positivo). Na África Ocidental, a beleza é associada à gordura e obesidade. Se um africano proveniente dessa cultura que fosse a um High School nos EUA e dissesse estar "encantado" com a obesidade dos habitantes seria provavelmente linchado e processado em 2 milhões de dólares. Ainda que o dissesse como o mais sincero elogio.
Não devemos achar que somente por um modelo de pensamento/ cultura ser hegemônico e que dita o "modo de vida" da pessoas (mesmo de maneira inconsciente) que ele seja "o correto" ou melhor do que aquele de uma sociedade culturalmente não tão influente.
O modo de vida ocidentalizado é vendido e imposto como a única alternativa ao resto do mundo (é afinal, uma grande marca da globalização) e não necessariamente torna os culturalmente dominados mais "ajustados" ou felizes (já que até o modelo de felicidade está de acordo com aquele da nação dominadora). Exemplo disso é que algo que antes nunca tinha acontecido na China, vem ocorrendo com cada vez mais frequência ("coincidentemente" após a abertura cada vez maior à cultura ocidental, isto é, anglo-saxônica): os chineses não querem mais ter as pálpebras puxadas e recorrem ao bisturi. Esse tipo de cirurgia está tornando-se assustadoramente mais comum. A auto-imagem (no que se refere à estética) dos chineses vem sido inconscientemente bombardeada. Não me surpreende, já que dentro do padrão estético norte-americano não há espaço para essas diferenças (que são vistas como "ruins", "piores" e até perigosas, por isso são tabu). E quando o diferente se destaca, é sempre a título de fetiche, sempre prontamente taxado e etiquetado como "exótico" ou sob rótulo nojento de "étnico" ( O que é "beleza étnica"? Por que exótico? Posso disser que no Brasil não é exótico ter pele morena ou seja lá o que for, o exótico aqui seria o nórdico). Por que dizem "beleza negra" ou "oriental", e não somente beleza, sem ressalvas ou emendas? Por que nunca ouvimos dizer "beleza caucasiana" ou "que bela caucasiana!". Porque não é esse o padrão de beleza vendido. O caucasiano está ajustado ao padrão de "normalidade", só isso. Ele se dá muito bem nesse padrão. A culpa é sempre do Outro (essa entidade ameaçadora que insiste em ser diferente e desafiar meus paradigmas).
E concordo quando dizem que no Brasil impera o mito da democracia racial. O brasileiro é, sim, racista: com mulher (fraca), com jovem (imaturo), com velho (inútil), até com gente bonita (não pode ser inteligente). Mas não é essa propaganda que mostra isso. Não mesmo. O exemplo disso está em (inúmeros) outros lugares, no nosso cotidiano, em cada fila de emprego ou camburão de polícia, mas não aí nessa foto.


o Link:
(Chinês se adaptando ao padrão europeu, absurdo. A globalização: Além de nos convencer que somos culpados pela nossa miséria, nos convencem que não somos bonitos o suficiente.) E isso não é "terceiro-mundismo" nem falta de auto-crítica (tenho muito disso).


Corrigindo: quis dizer África Central e não Ocidental.

Ken Li

Racism aside, the golden rule could be applied here. The equivalent would be a national Chinese advertisement showing their actors sticking their asses out to emulate watermelons.

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