Editor’s Note: Welcome to our newest feature, The Throwback, where we’ll spotlight some of our favorite pieces from the site’s history. First up, this August 9, 2007 piece on the collisions between perceptions of race in the U.S. and South America.
by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse
When most people think of American imperialism, they think of planting the stars and stripes deep into the soil of foreign lands. They think of economic dominance, the forced removal of government leaders, the exploitation of labor and resources.
By Guest Contributor Tetsuhiko Endo, cross-posted from The Inertia
Of the many hoary clichés that the surfing world zealously cultivates, (from “selling out” to “soul surfing” to “unspoiled natives”) one stands out above the rest as being particularly ugly–the Brazilian stereotype. It is rare that the subject of surfing’s third nation comes up either in conversation or print without someone mentioning supposedly Brazilian traits like lack of etiquette, poor style, loud demeanors, “passion” (whatever the hell that means), and/or a propensity towards violence. As Australian Surfing Life once put it, (way back in 1994, no less) A Brazilian in the water is “The bastard surfer … a dark-haired, rude-as-f-ck, uncivilized prick, ripping off [waves] like a pirate stealing gold.”
“Prejudice is a reality in surfing but people don’t talk about it,” says Brazilian pro surfer Junior Faria. “It has been shamefully hidden behind words like ‘stereotype’ and ‘joke.’ I’ve heard and read things that are really heavy and the worst part is that people actually think it’s okay to make those statements. They think that we won’t understand or that everyone thinks those statements are funny, too.”
I got in touch with Faria and the Executive Editor of Brazil’s version of The Surfer’s Journal,Jair Bortoleto, to ask them about prejudice, if some of it is well founded, and what they make of it. Unfortunately, I don’t speak Portuguese, so although they were able to give me insight, they had to do it in their second languages, which, as Faria pointed out, is another issue that Brazilians have in trying to explain themselves to English speakers. “Some ignorant people think that we aren’t as intelligent because of the accent we have when speaking English.”
“The main stereotype I hear about Brazilians is that we are loud and aggressive,” says Bortoleto. “I say it’s true in some cases, and it’s not true in others. People can get angry everywhere. In Australia, for example I’ve seen some nasty stuff from the surfers. So I think you have to see both sides of the coin.” He also points out that what is sometimes construed as aggression is instead a certain cultural demonstrativeness. “Passionate is not aggressive. There are passionate Brazilians, that surf for the love, and there are aggressive guys that mostly travel together and are loud.”
“People who assume this (that Brazilians, as a whole are loud and aggressive) don’t have a problem with Brazilians only, they have problems with anyone who comes from different backgrounds or cultures,” says Faria. “I know that some guys have no respect and sometimes act like d-ck heads, but there are assholes everywhere: Australia, America, Mexico, Tahiti, every single country in the world has their share. Most ‘international’ surfers think every single Brazilian is loud, aggressive, blah, blah, blah, but that’s a huge mistake. I think 90% of the surfers that have that prejudice against us have never met us.”
By this point, some of you, dear readers, are perhaps disagreeing with the gentlemen I’ve quoted. Maybe you’ve had a first hand incident while traveling somewhere that proves that yours isn’t a prejudice, but an unconditional truth. I know: your home break gets invaded by large groups of Brazilians and they take your waves without showing due respect. I know: Adriano De Souza gets over-scored in Brazil, unforgivable. Unfortunately, if you think any of this adds up to substantial evidence supporting a generally negative view of Brazilians, you have miscalculated. The prevailing negative view of Brazilians in the surf world is a product of underlying prejudice within American and Australian society, and I’m going to explain why. Read the Post Exclusive: Smashing The Brazilian Stereotype
Fernandes, as you may or may not know, is a Brazilian SFF writer who makes a living as a professor of Creative Writing and translator at a university in São Paulo. I follow him on Twitter, and he blogs at The Cogsmith.
JG: How did the anthology idea come about?
FF: I had been thinking of editing an anthology of Latin American stories for a while now. By the end of 2009, Ann and Jeff VanderMeer invited me to be assistant editor for Latin America in their awesome Best American Fantasy collection. Unfortunately, the BAF ended in 2010, just before the volume four, which would have been my debut. In 2011, however, I started thinking that I could at the very least try to edit an anthology of Brazilian science fiction in English to make it available to the English-speaking public. I managed to get a few stories, but most of the authors couldn’t translate them neither rewriter them in English, and I was too busy to do it all by myself. Then I saw an ad in the Outer Alliance list published by Djibril al-Ayad, creator and editor of The Future Fire, asking for guest editors for two special issues. I saw that as an opportunity–but this time not only for Brazil or Latin America. I thought I could shout out louder. So I drafted a project about colonialism and sent it his way. He liked it and here we are now.
JG: What is your vision for it?
FF: I thought of the particular place humanity is in right now. We are still at war in many places around the world, but something is a-changing: the socialist Second World has pretty much ended almost 25 years ago, and the First World and the Third World are, if not changing places, are definitely suffering major alterations in their structure. I think it’s past time we discuss that in our fiction, and what fiction suits best the discussion of the zeitgeist–the spirit of times, our times and the times to come–than science fiction? A few authors are doing it now (Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross, Neal Stephenson, Alastair Reynolds, and Ian McDonald come to mind–but guess what? All male Anglos. I want to make clear I have absolutely nothing against them or their works–I love them all, and I find them true trailblazers. I just wanted to see more people from different countries, speaking different languages, from different ethnicities, genders, writing about the same issues. Or similar issues from their own POVs.
Marshall Ganz calls Occupy a moment, but we have a history and a future. My generation, in North America, was birthed over 12 years ago, in the streets of Seattle, when trade unionists joined with anarchists to disrupt the workings of global capital, well, in this case, the meeting of a major player, the World Trade Organization. We refused to accept capitalism as a natural way of ordering our social world; “Another World is Possible” was a popular slogan. We manifested alternatives in organizing our collective refusal. Instead of relying on institutions created under capitalism, we created our own clinics, schools, decision-making bodies, and media outlets. Some of which have formalized into counter-institutions that exist today. The global network of independent media centers and community health centers, like the Common Ground clinic in New Orleans, started after Hurricane Katrina, are our legacy.
The Millennials may find inspiration when their peer, 26-year old Mohamed Bouazizi, educated yet unable to find a good job, self-immolated himself on the steps of the Tunisian governor’s office, sparking the uprisings of the Arab Spring. Or, when 24-year old Bradley Manning, in a fit of frustration with military bureaucracy and the war abroad, uploaded confidential documents onto the Wikileaks website. What is the future of the Occupy movement? Approximately a half-year in and many camps have been violently evicted from the land on which they pitched their tents. Many of us spent this late fall awake in an overnight vigil to defend a camp or recovering from being pepper sprayed by cops when trying to setup a new one. At the time of writing this, only Occupy D.C. remains intact. But, that is not the end of Occupy.
By Guest Contributor The CVT, cross-posted from CHOP-TENSILS
With the lead-up to Obama’s inauguration, there was a ton of chatter about multi-racial people and what that meant for the future of the U.S., in regards to racial relations and understanding. (*1) Some years passed, the 2010 census went down, and now the conversation seems to have reappeared in the public arena. (*2)
The ideas are nothing new, of course: there are drastically more people claiming a mixed-race identity than ever before, with the numbers expected to continue trending upwards; and somewhere around 2060, the U.S. is expected to be less than 50% white. The resulting question is deceptively simple – does this mean that we are getting closer to a “post-racial” world, and that, subsequently, racial conflict and inequality is on the downslope?
My simple answer? Um . . .
Hell no. And that’s it.
But for those of you who would like a bit more complicated answer, I’ll see what I can do here.
Reader Nancy L sent in an article from the New York Times with an opening that made even this jaded activist do a double take:
RESTINGA SÊCA, Brazil — Before setting out in a pink S.U.V. to comb the schoolyards and shopping malls of southern Brazil, Alisson Chornak studies books, maps and Web sites to understand how the towns were colonized and how European their residents might look today.
The goal, he and other model scouts say, is to find the right genetic cocktail of German and Italian ancestry, perhaps with some Russian or other Slavic blood thrown in. Such a mix, they say, helps produce the tall, thin girls with straight hair, fair skin and light eyes that Brazil exports to the runways of New York, Milan and Paris with stunning success.