Archive for the ‘Brazilian Culture’ Category

03.08.10

Culture Shock—Coming to America

Posted in Brazilian Culture, Memoir Writing at 03:21 pm by admin

I was at a discussion group a few days ago, and one of the participants said: “Poor people of the world are suffering, their lives are miserable, and we must do all we can to help them find happiness.” I spent a lot of time thinking about this and I am perplexed and disturbed by this typical American point of view. Here is my opinion:

I disagree that all poor people are “suffering and miserable.”  Yes, I am sure all poor people would love to have their situations improved, but I promise you that an improved situation does not (more…)

03.03.10

Uncovering Prejudices in Americans

Posted in Brazilian Culture at 10:14 am by admin

In my memoir, Divine Betrayal, Chapter 26, I write about Brazilian racial tensions vs. segregation in the U.S. during the 1950’s. Today, I would like to contrast the attitudes of these two very similar Nations.

The history of Brazil is similar to ours. Brazil was discovered in 1500 by Pedro Alvares Cabral from Portugal; America was discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus who sailed for Spain. Both countries are in the western hemisphere and both countries attained their independence within 50 years of each other. Both nations have populations made up of the native inhabitants, European immigrants and African slaves and later on, Asian migrants. However, the population makeup and racial attitudes today are very different from each other. In a recent article in The Economist, titled “Brazil Takes Off” John Prideaux, the author says: “there is no such thing as a hyphenated Brazilian.” In other words, you will not find an African-Brazilian, or Italian-Brazilian. All Brazilians are simply proud to be Brazilians.

brazilian_Grace Ann Deters

Graceann Deters and a Brazilian Friend

So, you may ask, “is there no racial tension or prejudice in Brazil?” The answer is yes, but it a different than the U.S.A. I will explain how these differences have occurred.

Firstly, many African slaves were brought to Brazil. Depending on which book you read, the estimate ranges between 3.6 and 4.5 million slaves who were brought to Brazil after 1550. America imported 645,000 African slaves. Brazilian slaves were freed in 1880 and today Brazil has the second largest black population in the world, next to Nigeria.

My point is this, unlike the U.S., Brazilian slaves were encouraged to bring their culture with them such as their songs, musical instruments, dance, religion etc… They were also encouraged to intermarry with the Indians, Portuguese, and other immigrants. This resulted in some very unique cultural events found only in Brazil. For instance the religion “Condomble” is the mixture of Catholicism and African religions. There are several names for this mixture, depending on which city you live in. For instance, in Florianopolis, my home town, it is known mainly as Macumba. On New Years Eve there is a beautiful celebration where the congregants dress in white, take home-made boats filled with flowers to the beaches, and launch them into the ocean as they throw more flowers into the water in honor of the goddess of the Sea “Iemanja.”

(more…)

01.18.10

RIO DE JANEIRO – OLYMPICS 2016

Posted in Brazilian Culture at 04:36 pm by admin

Though I find it hard to believe that Brazil is finally going to host the Summer Olympic Games in 2016, I am thrilled at this news and have heard from many Brazilian friends who share my excitement.

It’s unbelievable to me that no South American city has ever hosted the Summer Olympic Games. I am sure that all South Americans share in Brazil’s pride and they are hopeful that, in the future, they will have the same opportunity and honor.

This accomplishment will tell you how much Brazil has progressed since I was a young girl growing up in Florianopolis. In my adult life, I try to visit Brazil about every five years. I am always impressed by the progress. My Brazilian family, who had been very poor in the 40’s and 50’s, had never dreamt of having financial security or attaining social status, but today most Brazilians live in beautiful homes and own one or two automobiles. Twenty years ago I visited a cousin in Brasilia and saw his beautiful home with a swimming pool in the back yard and several newer cars in the driveway. Brazil has a growing middle class and the standard of living is escalating.

Of course, there is still poverty. The favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro are plainly visible from the luxurious hotels of Copacabana and Ipanema. I will blog later telling of life in the favelas.

The most common question I am asked now is: “Will Rio de Janeiro be safe for the tourists during the Olympics?” Many people tell me stories of recent visits and how they (more…)


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