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December 13, 2008

Comments

Rodrigo

Rachel sou novo aqui não li todo o seu blog comecei exatamente no post mencionado, eu sei que pra você não deve ser fácil ler alguns comentários como o da "Arilyssa Turen" da vontade de mata uma pessoa dessa... eu mesmo senti vergonha por aquilo mas ao mesmo tempo senti vontade de rir por tamanha ignorância. Sou brasileiro tenho 23 anos nunca sai do país, posso não concordar completamente com oque você disse mas eu respeito muito mesmo a sua opnião pois é o seu ponto de vista sobre um local específico e o cérebro pequeno de alguns não deixou entender, onde eu moro é tudo bem diferente (ou será que eu to acostumado e não percebo) aqui se alguém fura a fila na sua frente ta morto, todo mundo já começa a gritar hahahaha o problema é que certas pessoas não gostam que estranhos falem de coisas que você ta acostumado no dia-a-dia, não precisa ser estrangeiro pode ser o vizinho mas é verdade que se você é americano você tem um ponto a mais nessa escala de ódio e isso é em qualquer parte do mundo...

Não deixa esse tipo de gente fazer você odiar o Brasil, já chega os brasileiros que odeiam a si próprios

Jen

Spouting my long-winded, tl;dr ignorant gringa views again...

Brazil is a country whose culture is deeply rooted in insecurity, and who can blame them.

It seems like every few years, Brazil is hyped as a future economic superpower, foreign investors cynically flock to it hoping to get rich quick, and then it all goes to shit because the bureaucracy is immense and the population/politicians are largely too apathetic to fix it. Then businesses walk away scoffing, "Well, what can you expect from THEM?"

Or when Americans visit Brazil, they tell everyone back home, "Wow, the country is so poor and there's so much violence and corruption, but the people... THE PEOPLE... they're so happy and don't seem to have a care! We can learn so much from that culture!"

I know so many Brazilians who think it's wonderful when foreigners take away that assessment of the country, but those comments never sit well with me because, honestly, it's often the kind of thing people say about someone with Down Syndrome. "Yes, they're retarded and will never lead a life that takes full advantage of the human potential, but they're always happy and smiling!" The implication when I hear that is, if only we were ignorant of our condition and ignorant of the shit going on around us, we could be just as blissful as someone with an extra chromosome or, hey, you know, a Brazilian.

It's not really a compliment. It's looking down on Brazilians as children who are lacking the intellect, emotional intelligence and worldview of us haughty "first-worlders" with our, le sigh, painful self-awareness and silly idealistic view that Yes, We Can.

And if I were a Brazilian, even if the criticisms were accurate (and many of them are) and meant to be helpful or honest rather than insulting, I'd probably be defensive as well.

On the other hand...

Life is hard. People are assholes. There's corruption, depravity, ignorance, violence, slavery, poverty... it's a rough world out there. True, sometimes you just need to samba the night away or drown your sorrows in beer and churrasco, but nothing ever changes if you get all Three Wise Monkeys and refuse to see, hear or speak of the big and small evil (and incompetence and inefficiencies and ignorance) around you.

I don't think, though, that Brazilians are so different from residents of other countries (like China) that kind of dwell in that purgatory of being good enough to be economically and environmentally raped by developed countries but not good enough to sit at the Big Boy Table. They're like the nerds whose test everyone wants to copy off of but no one wants to invite to a party.

The Chinese are also extremely sensitive to criticism and you really don't want to get into a pissing match with their bloggers, but again, I think that goes back to insecurity. They're not yet comfortable with their place in the world and they feel that they're often being taken advantage of and needlessly criticized by foreigners who don't even attempt to understand their way of life and their history.

Americans, for good or bad, are in a position of authority (at least for now), so it's much easier for us to write off criticism or to genuinely reflect on it, especially if we've traveled abroad and built up a thick skin because of the constant barrage of insults and criticisms hurled at us.

I mean, I was SPIT AT in Amsterdam. Spit at. Can you imagine? And all because a guy hated Americans. That was it. Discovering I was an American was enough to provoke his ire. It doesn't bother me much anymore, but it's because I'm far more secure of my standing in the world than someone in Brazil or in China.

I suspect that will change somewhat when the balance of power starts to shift, and Americans get a taste of what it's like to feel helpless and mired in what seems like an unsurmountable world-of-shit and start to Soldier Boy* their economic problems away.

*Been out of the country a while. Have no idea what dance craze has recently swept over the young folk and Ellen back home.

Luiza Voll

Hey Rachel!

Great post! By the way, I really like your blog, Don't mind the criticism, it always appear when someone speak with honesty. I'm brazilian and living in Europe for over a year. It's amazing how much you learn from your own country living abroad. I agreed with all the items on your list and didn't see anything offensive in them. That's our culture and I love it with all it's contraditions!

Tom Jobim once said: "Living abroad is great, but it's awful. Living in Brazil it's awful, but it's great!"

:-)

Keep up the good work and don't mind the haters! They will show up everywhere, in every country...

Best wishes, Luiza

mauro tatini

rachel wrote: "as a gringo, if you dare to speak honestly about Brazil, you better be prepared for the consequences."

Don't see where this is news - you can change "gringo" and "brazil" to anything you want - as a person, you should ALWAYS know that what you say will have consequences. That applies for everything.

As for Brasil and brazilians, just know that there's a lot of "brasils" inside Brasil. That was always the case. The way Rio operates is nearly totally opposite from São Paulo - and then, you can't compare those to Bahia, Recife, Curitiba, etc, etc, etc... And brazilians are very bairristas, so when you say "brazilians this, and Brazil that" you will be offending/bothering people in a level that you won't understand for a long time. You travel across america, and every city looks like the one before, and the one after... mini-malls are everywhere, with their mcdee's and starbucks and burger kings, walmarts... that's something you see in the main cities of brazil, in a specific area - all the other smaller cities have their own looks, scents, people... you have your work cut out for you if you really think you can say "brazilians this" for ONE thing and not be as much right as you are wrong...

then, there's also the fact that when I wrote "that's an american thing" you felt really offended. Funny how things work...

but, yeah, be prepared - always. It's what sensible people do.

ajoy

I think such sensitivity is quite common from people all over the world, even Americans. Many Americans will tell you to leave if you don't like it... even if you are American! LOL

But what is interesting to me is that I have encountered some immigrants here in the states who are sensitive to criticism about their home country, but the same people will criticize the U.S. terribly. This is fine, but it begs the obvious question of course. So, can we just have equal opportunity criticism? No country is perfect and you'll have to deal with BS wherever you live.

When visiting Europe in 2003, I did hear " I hate Americans" a few times. I didn't get it that badly though, because most people thought I was from South America (although I am from Ohio) and just spoke Spanish to me. LOL But when I did get the comment, I just explained that American policy, not the average American person, is the problem and that most Americans did not vote for "W". I also reminded them of how "W" stole the election of 2000.

Tim Stackhouse

Rachel,

I'm glad you mentioned that double standard of how people in many parts of the world view it as completely acceptable to criticize justly or unjustly the US in just about any context, while it is a personal affront to even imply something negative about that person's country.

Also, Mauro Tatini, have you been to cities across the US? There are huge regional differences in the United States, especially in the eastern half of the country. There are similar aspects to all cities, but no one would ever confuse Atlanta with Salt Lake City, or Miami with Seattle.

mauro tatini

I've been traveling with a jazz band for about 10 years now (meshell ndegeocello) and I've also worked with vernon reid, thalia, bebel gilberto, dar williams,citizen cope, others, for the past 15 I've lived here. I've been lucky enough to have traveled all over the world several times. I've been to every state (at least once) and played in the smallest cities imaginable, as well as the Carneggie Halls and Fillmore's. So, yes, I've been everywhere in US - I'm yet to meet (personally) a single american who has traveled to all states (aside of the bands I work with) - you won't catch me talking about something like this because I "think" it's one way or another. Either I know, or I'll make it clear it's a "guess", or "I heard it somewhere" type of thing. In US, the smallest the city is, the more it looks like everywhere else. I've traveled mostly by tour bus, so we know everywhere quite literally, not just "from airport to airport".
And yes, I emphasize the same as before: you can't compare US as a whole with Brasil as a whole. Our unorganized growth led to separate, distinct ways of everything - something you can only get a little glimpse of in American. Yes, there's the accents, and the monuments are different, but in the end, it's all the same. That doesn't mean it's good or bad - it only means you can't say "brasil this" or "brasil that" and be right, though you can say that about US.
Ajoy, I agree with you - though I would make it more a worldwide phenomenon: every country I've visited suffers from the same thing. Even here: Rachel feels offended when people say bad things about her country, but she's quick to criticize under the "I'm helping americans understand brasil" umbrella. It's normal, it happens in our homes: we often fight with siblings about anything, but if anybody from outside does/says something bad about a sister or a brother, we're quick to go in their defense. I still don't see where this is news.

ajoy

We all tend to be somewhat nationalistic. I think we have to realize that we all fall victim to our respective country's propaganda. So, I agree, it's not really news. It's good dialogue though. Maybe we can get to some understanding and see more similarities than differences between people of different nations and cultures.

Actually, reading Rachel's blog posts have made me want to visit Brazil even more. But then I love experiencing other cultures... especially the music!!! I really should have been an anthropologist or a musician so I could travel the world. Can you hook me up Mauro? ;o)

Neil

"atrocities our government has historically inflicted",,,,please.

The United States has historically and continues to do significantly more good in the world than anything else. As a global economic and military power, others will always find reasons to hate,,,despite all the positive benefits that they have received (or are receiving) from US policies.

Thanks,

Neil

Neil

"atrocities our government has historically inflicted",,,,please.

The United States has historically and continues to do significantly more good in the world than anything else. As a global economic and military power, others will always find reasons to hate,,,despite all the positive benefits that they have received (or are receiving) from US policies.

Thanks,

Neil

milenamb

Dear Rachel,
You are 100% right about everything you wrote about brazilians. We do take it personal when a foreign talks about our country, but it is just a way to protect ourselves.
Only a person who lives or has lived in another country realizes how real those comments that you made are. I live in NY, and I love your city as much as I love Brazil, and I see that we are just different at some points, not better nor worse.And happy are the people who tried both (or more )countries.
Keep writing with details, I'm new here but I intend to come often now. It's funny and interesting to learn your point of view.
beijos
Milena

Egil Fujikawa Nes

Rachel,

I think it's dangers to generalise in any way. I'm a Norwegian who been living and working in Norway, UK, USA and São Paulo over the last the last 7 years and you could been writing the same blog post about Norway and UK as well as Brazil. When a foreigner criticise your country, you feel threatened and you nationalism are activated. This nationalism are often founded on instincts and perceptions.

We all have to deal with perceptions about who we are, not only in Brazil but everywhere we go. You as an American have to deal with the perception that you are the bully of the world and people will look for clues that confirm this perception in whatever you are doing and saying. Myself in the other hand are Norwegian and “all” (without generalising) Brazilian expect me to be a bacalhau fisherman.

You probably hate the fact that Brazilian expect you to be a bully as much as I hate to be a bacalhau fisherman but we just have to deal with it, it's the way our brains are working to deal with complex situations.

I would like to add that I believe Paulistas are a bit more tolerant to the fact that it exist simpatico Americans then what Cariocas are, but I never been living in Rio and I'm just a gringo :)

Best regards
Egil Fujikawa Nes

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Guilherme

Hi Rachel,

Although sometimes I disagree with you, I always find your opinions and point of views valid. The last post was brilliant and do not believe that São Paulo and the south are these "wonders" and Rio is the only place were the things you listed happen. They apply to the whole country.

You have to understand that brazilians don't like being criticized, you probably noticed that most people in Brazil only criticize others behind their backs. Being half brazilian I am VERY VERY ashamed of this behaviour.

Also as you pointed in a post a while ago, brazilians act a lot like that Havaianas ad, they can point everything that is wrong with their country, but the minute someone from outside does it they become furious and defensive.

This is a funny country and people still have a lot to learn. Don't let these comments discourage you.

Beijos

Guilherme

Guilherme

Hi Rachel,

Just one more thing, you also have to understand that many people from other states (specially São Paulo) hate cariocas.

There are more murders in São Paulo and Recife, and São paulo is the capital of car hijacking but they believe that Rio is the most violent city of the country.

Talk to cariocas that have lived in São Paulo, or paulistas that are currently living in Rio and ask for their opinions on both cities and where they prefer to live. You will be shocked on how much segregation and hate exist between both cities.

I don't know if this happens between "East Coast and West Coast" in the US or even Northern States and Southern States, but something similar happens between England x Scotland or England x France. But these are different countries with a history of wars.

It gets even worse if you try to talk about the Northeast. They will say it is a "different country". Like is not "their problem", "we are civilized and they are not, they create all the problems we face in the Southwest cities".

Again, something I am really ashamed of. Some comments try to paint these problems and issues as "regional". But they seem to forget that we are a single nation.

Guilherme.

mauro tatini

Guilherme...
... all cities in Brasil have advantages and their problems - nobody is questioning that. But to say that "it's all the same everywhere" is a comment from someone who doesn't have enough information, and/or didn't live in many places in Brasil. (where do/did you leave anyway?). On your "violence" point, don't forget that Rio is a small place (balneário) - especially if compared to Sao Paulo (like you did): rio has a little over 7 million habitants "spread" on 486 sq/mi, while Sao Paulo has a little over 11 million people on 18,689 sq/mi. - feel the difference? Everytime someone wants to "cook the numbers" on violence, they say "more people die in SP than in Rio" - which is right, if you only use absolute numbers. The number of people killed in Rio is 40 per 100,000, whereas in SP is 23 per 100,000. Just so you know, that doesn't mean much: New Orleans reported 96 per 100,000, and Recife, the most violent city in Brasil, 90 per 100,000. (bet you didn't know that). So get your facts straight before you say something. As for "many people from other states hate cariocas", again, I don't know where you get this info. Did you ask a soteropolitano about this? I'm sure they'd say otherwise. Or a curitibano? Or even somebody from SP? The most "hatred" you'll get from SP towards Rio is indifference - paulistanos are too busy working and playing hard to worry about that...
And last but not least, do you really think that if somebody prefers the city they were born to live that means they "hate" everywhere else? I can tell you with nearly 100% of certainty (aside of cubans, which is another story altogether) that every single foreigner I met living in another country - from Japan to Denmark to Spain to Canada and anywhere in between - say with pride how much they miss their countries, and especially the place/city they were born in... it's human nature. Painting it as something else makes no sense whatsoever...

mauro tatini

Guilherme...
... all cities in Brasil have advantages and their problems - nobody is questioning that. But to say that "it's all the same everywhere" is a comment from someone who doesn't have enough information, and/or didn't live in many places in Brasil. (where do/did you leave anyway?). On your "violence" point, don't forget that Rio is a small place (balneário) - especially if compared to Sao Paulo (like you did): rio has a little over 7 million habitants "spread" on 486 sq/mi, while Sao Paulo has a little over 11 million people on 18,689 sq/mi. - feel the difference? Everytime someone wants to "cook the numbers" on violence, they say "more people die in SP than in Rio" - which is right, if you only use absolute numbers. The number of people killed in Rio is 40 per 100,000, whereas in SP is 23 per 100,000. Just so you know, that doesn't mean much: New Orleans reported 96 per 100,000, and Recife, the most violent city in Brasil, 90 per 100,000. (bet you didn't know that). So get your facts straight before you say something. As for "many people from other states hate cariocas", again, I don't know where you get this info. Did you ask a soteropolitano about this? I'm sure they'd say otherwise. Or a curitibano? Or even somebody from SP? The most "hatred" you'll get from SP towards Rio is indifference - paulistanos are too busy working and playing hard to worry about that...
And last but not least, do you really think that if somebody prefers the city they were born to live that means they "hate" everywhere else? I can tell you with nearly 100% of certainty (aside of cubans, which is another story altogether) that every single foreigner I met living in another country - from Japan to Denmark to Spain to Canada and anywhere in between - say with pride how much they miss their countries, and especially the place/city they were born in... it's human nature. Painting it as something else makes no sense whatsoever...

mauro tatini

Guilherme...
... all cities in Brasil have advantages and their problems - nobody is questioning that. But to say that "it's all the same everywhere" is a comment from someone who doesn't have enough information, and/or didn't live in many places in Brasil. (where do/did you leave anyway?). On your "violence" point, don't forget that Rio is a small place (balneário) - especially if compared to Sao Paulo (like you did): rio has a little over 7 million habitants "spread" on 486 sq/mi, while Sao Paulo has a little over 11 million people on 18,689 sq/mi. - feel the difference? Everytime someone wants to "cook the numbers" on violence, they say "more people die in SP than in Rio" - which is right, if you only use absolute numbers. The number of people killed in Rio is 40 per 100,000, whereas in SP is 23 per 100,000. Just so you know, that doesn't mean much: New Orleans reported 96 per 100,000, and Recife, the most violent city in Brasil, 90 per 100,000. (bet you didn't know that). So get your facts straight before you say something. As for "many people from other states hate cariocas", again, I don't know where you get this info. Did you ask a soteropolitano about this? I'm sure they'd say otherwise. Or a curitibano? Or even somebody from SP? The most "hatred" you'll get from SP towards Rio is indifference - paulistanos are too busy working and playing hard to worry about that...
And last but not least, do you really think that if somebody prefers the city they were born to live that means they "hate" everywhere else? I can tell you with nearly 100% of certainty (aside of cubans, which is another story altogether) that every single foreigner I met living in another country - from Japan to Denmark to Spain to Canada and anywhere in between - say with pride how much they miss their countries, and especially the place/city they were born in... it's human nature. Painting it as something else makes no sense whatsoever...

mauro tatini

don't know how/why it got posted 3 times - please delete the copies, I only clicked post once. Darn 1's and 0's!

Tabitha

I'm half Brazilian(born in the US), and I've spent a good...half of my life in Brazil.
I totally agree with this post and the post about what to get used to in Brazil. I've been all over Brazil, and there might be some small differences in different states and big cities, but they are...generally about the same.
Brazilians are really sensitive about criticism.
In the US, people(Americans) talk shit about our government and Wall Street all the time, but I can't remember more than a couple times that I've heard a Brazilian say something bad about Brazil.

mauro tatini

tabitha...
... I'm sorry to say this, but maybe the brasil you're talking about is in a parallel universe - not the one we're talking about. Are you sure of what you just said? One of the main problems in brasil is the lack of patriotism - we often talk about this in comparison with americans, how an american is proud of the "red, white and blue", how americans go out on 4th of july to praise their independence, fireworks, bbq's with "america the beautiful" playing in the background, how the military service is a choice, not an obligation ("it's not a job, it's an adventure!") - you've never wondered why the military service is mandatory in Brasil? Because nobody (NOBODY) would enlist if it was like in the US. There's no "desire" of serving the country, there's no pride in it. And that's because we're not in war. If we were, then really no one would enlist. We don't trust our government, we talk trash about our politicians, we're afraid of our police, and we're very verbal about it. ALL of us. And on september 7th, we take the holiday to get away, go to the beach or the mountains - never to go out dressed in "yellow and green" to praise our love for the country.
Now, if you're most prominent "half" is american, and you're very clear about it, I don't blame brazilians for not talking trash in front of you, or to you, about Brasil. We have mostly complaints about it, but we won't talk about that in front of "strangers". And like I said, it's the same here, and on all countries I've been. But I can talk mostly about US, where I've been living for nearly 16 years - americans don't like when foreigners talk trash about their country - and rightly so. Don't give me this BS about how "americans talk shit about the government and wall street all the time" and forget to mention that they do that amongst themselves only.
Actually, the only time brazilians start saying good things about their country is when they move out of it, and miss it like crazy - then, everything in Brasil is "better". The only patriotic brazilian is an expatriated one. Sad, but true.

Ray Adkins

Rachel,

I enjoy your blog and my comment doesn't attack you in any way, no venom from New England...:)
I totally agree with you on the Sensitivity, I live with a hyper sensitive Brazilian I married 11 years ago and believe me, I hear you.
It did sound like you were talking about a completely different country when I read your comments and remembered our experience in Sao Paulo, two different universes, mostly, Paulistas are much more reserved and formal then what you describe from Rio.
Long story short...
I could observe that most of the controversy was due to the fact that you put all Brazilians in the same pot, once you are mostly having a Rio experience "Adventures of a gringa in Rio" my impression was that the criticism about Brazilians didn't generate as much of a buzz, many people agreed with you on some of the items you mentioned, including me.
However it is crystal clear to me that some of those "things to get used about Brazil" would only apply to Rio, I just couldn't see some of those things happening in Sao Paulo.
I don't know Rio as much as I know Sao Paulo but I would be very curious if your post was "10 things to get used to if you are in RIO" how many Cariocas would agree with you and how many would say or think that those things were peculiar to YOUR experience, YOUR circle of friends, YOUR boyfriend's family and maybe even a social class thing and not a RIO thing in general.
In other words, I would be curious to see how many Cariocas would agree that those 10 things even apply to them as a whole once OTHER Brazilians didn't indentify themselves with your remarks about your experience in Rio.
Last but not least, some of the items sounded more like you were venting after having a bad day or a bad week than a real observation on how RIO or Brazil really is...


Agree?

Ray

Rio Gringa

Ray,

thanks for your comment, but my week was fine. i'd had the post planned for awhile, a collection of my experiences and friends' experiences throughout Brazil, and yes, they are VERY real observations, ones that several gringos commented on as well. But I'm afraid you missed the point of the post if you want to confer everything with Cariocas, or Brazilians at all, since the point is that it's from an outsider's perspective. I don't expect people who've lived here their whole lives to notice these things since they live them every day, just like I wouldn't notice things that foreigners in the US have to get used to. every gringo's experience obviously won't be exactly the same, but there are certain areas that they will have in common, which I tried to gather together in the post. The truth is that I could write an entire manual about things that take getting used to here!

Guilherme

Mauro,

I have lived in both SP and RJ, plus I work on a company based on RS that operates nationwide. There are differences, but Rachel's list can be applied to all these states and a few more.

You seem to be smart enough to know that your comments are only endorsing Rachel's post, by not taking criticism well.

Guilherme

Patricia

After I read this post, i went back to read the other one, to find out if it was something to be annoyed at.. but just as the 1st time i read it,i don't see anything that should make any brazilian upset. Most of the comments were true, or partialy true, and nothing that would make me so upset if a gringo said it.
Maybe it's because after living abroad for 4 years, some things I can clearly see as different from other countries.

I'm usually against an outsider saying nasty things about the country in which they're in, but i didn't see anything wrong with what you wrote. Go figure!

Anyway.. enjoy the sunshine.. this winter in north america will be a bad one =O

cheers

helion

Rachel, you said people got insulted by your post. Maybe it was the case for some people. But I am sure that many just regretted your ignorance, and plese don´t be offended by the word. As you quoted Jobim, “Brazil is not for beginners”, and I guess it is your case. You are a beginner who think you know enough to “educate” other gringos on how Brazil is. You live in Rio (since when?) and you suppose you already got your key to describe and understand accurately all the country.

Sorry to say that, but what you show, most of all, is how Americans get so easily convinced that they can understand other cultures and nations by their own parameters. This is the real ignorance, but we may understand: you were probably educated to think your country have all the universal criteria to judge the rest of the world.

Yes, Brazil is not for beginners. No country is for beginners. If you really love our contry, you will be able to understand us better, as many of your co-nationals do. It will require you time, attention, and some humbleness. But I´m sure you can make it.

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