Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Do Brazilian expats protect each other?


When you live in an area as diverse as the Washington DC suburbs, you are used to seeing all kinds of nationalities, ethnicities, groups and languages. The one thing that calls attention to some nationalities is how they live within their community, without interacting much with the “typical American”-as rare as they might be now-, unless it is professionally. When it comes to socializing, religion, celebrations, traditions and even dating and marriage, many cultures look inward. The most notorious ones are the Indian community and the Chinese and Korean cultures. With their focus in the family, they often live within their communities. That extends to doing business within their group as well. Therefore, just like the Jewish community has been famous for “protecting each other”, these other groups also help each other with jobs, business deals and favoritism.

Another group that lives within themselves is the burgeoning Hispanic community. Hispanics constitute the fastest growing ethnic group in America, and after decades of immigration are now advancing in every field, especially in the small business sector. Hispanics prefer to speak their language, even if they have lived in America for decades. They have their festivals, their music, their dance and their foods. Even the new generations keep the traditions alive. The Vietnamese and Russian communities are also examples of self-protective communities. The old comrades help each other especially when it comes to business ventures. Groups of Middle Eastern extract, such as the Afghans and the Iranians also live pretty much into themselves. Religion obviously pays a big part in their sense of unity, since in America they are a minority that is not viewed favorably.

Many of these groups protect each other because of real or perceived racism. They know that their exotic look still attracts negative perceptions and stereotypes. They know that the only way they will be accepted is to succeed-whether in business, medicine, engineering or other prestigious professions. They have little representation in politics, whether Congress or local politics, so anyone from their community who breaks through is celebrated (Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, etc.).

Then there are the Brazilians. Such a large country, such a disintegrated group outside Brazil.  Many times when a Brazilian meets another Brazilian in stores or parties, they give each other a once over and ask themselves: “what is he/she doing here?” There is a slight competition and envy if the other is doing well. Since Brazilians come in different shapes, colors and sizes, they are less stereotyped by Americans. Brazilians can be white, yellow, brown or black. They may have Brazilian friends, they may listen to Brazilian music and eat “pao de queijo” at home, but essentially, Brazilians try to amalgamate to the American culture and blend in. Many women marry American men and raise their kids as Americans. For a long time Brazilians who grew up in Brazil followed and admired American culture. Just like other countries, but to a higher degree. Brazilians have always admired and envied the American quality of life, the movies made here, rock and roll, fast food restaurants (yes, believe it or not!), the big houses and cars.

How does that affect “helping each other”? Brazilians simply don’t favor or help other expats. They compete. They do protect their own family-children, cousins, parents, siblings. And it stops there. Just as Western Europeans who come to the US, there is little group formation. One can suspect that the more developed countries and the ethnic groups that are more “white” in the American eye are also the less self-protective when it comes to expat communities.





January 8, 2013 - Posted by | Difference between cultures


  1. I think to better understand this, it’s necessary to go back further. During the Revolutionary war; the fight for our independence from England, the USA (then the 13 Colonies), enjoyed the lowest taxes in the civilized world, and the highest quality of life. The USA was born from brilliance of freedom, and Europeans were tired of (religious) oppression. They loved the concept of no caste system. That you could be anything you wanted to be, at whatever level of society, in the USA. A thousand years of being born to the level, destined to stay at that level for the rest of your life, was vaporized overnight.

    As so, the Europeans that emmigrated to the USA over the next 150 years, believed in this, “living experiment”, of freedom, as drawn up by our brilliant fore-fathers Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Washington, and so on.

    When the Polish, Irish, German, Swede, Italian, etc…., came to the USA in those days, they were bent on being american. Of truly integrating themselves into the free thought of USA life. Their kids were smacked if they spoke their native language. They were forced to speak english by their parents, even if their parents never bothered to learn to speak english. Emmigration at that time was with the intent of being American. Because immigrants BELIEVED in the living experiment.

    Nowadays, the concept of emmigrating to the USA has nothing to do with being American. It has to do with taking advantage of the opportunities available in the USA (mainly the ability to get a loan and start a business), that do not exist in their native country. It has nothing to do with a belief in what the USA stands for. And has nothing to do with integrating into American society. It all has to do with the immigrants survivalist mentalities that you can succeed in the USA. Damn the culture and stick to your own.

    I disagree with the author that Brasilians do not have their own communities that stick together. In Miami, there is a huge, and very tight, colony of Brasilians. Out here in CA, there is a smaller, but again tight, community of Brasilians. Brasilians always manage to find each other; however, they don’t go out of their way to do it.

    Most Brasilians that are in the USA, like around I’m guessing 60-70%, are here by virtue of marriage. Therefore, the Brasilian is married to an American. This very much contributes to the breakdown of the Brasilian expat colony. But in my experience, make no mistake, Brasilian married to Brasilian in the USA? Their friends are mostly Brasilian. They have no NEED to integrate into American society at that point.

    Many Brasilians have no compunctions about leaving their country to marry an american citizen and live in the USA. Which is heartbreaking in many ways. Because they miss their country deeply. And a part of them eventually gets destroyed living in the pressure packed society of the USA.

    Contrast that to Indians, Koreans, Chinese, Bosnians, Pakistani, Vietnamese, Afrikan, Cuban, etc……these colonies living in the USA, as closed off / tight knit as they are, result in a marriage more often than not, of their same ethnic origin. Thus the cycle continues of a closed colony.

    The concepts of the USA have been lost, even on Americans, over the years. And we are well on our way to socialism…hardly what our forefathers dreamed of in the architectal foundations of this country. People are people all over the world. No different. If you take away the incentive for people to work, they will not work. It’s that simple. The foundational concepts of the USA have been lost.

    Combine that with marriage very often being within their culture thereby forsaking the need to integrate into american society, and that, IMHO, is why immigrants of today don’t see the need. The concept of the USA and the living experiment has long been forgotten. The USA is just a path for them. Not a belief. So they marry within their culture and never bother to integrate.

    Finally, Brasilians, in their free-wheeling, undisciplined way of life, don’t see the need to marry another Brasilian in the USA. In fact, they would rather marry an American.

    Comment by Steve | January 8, 2013 | Reply

    • Very interesting comment Steve!

      Comment by Brasilmagic | January 23, 2013 | Reply

  2. “Brasilians, in their free-wheeling, undisciplined way of life”….that is interesting way to describe an entire group of people, Steve.

    Comment by Marina | February 14, 2013 | Reply

  3. “Finally, Brasilians, in their free-wheeling, undisciplined way of life,”
    Totally wrong. Sad generalization.

    Comment by Kaue Jones | February 26, 2013 | Reply

  4. All that for, “Sad generalization”. Or, “that is interesting way to describe an entire group of people”.

    Here are some other generalizations. I’m not interested in taking the high road on these statements. Be honest as to your FIRST impression of each statement.

    Americans put work before family.
    Asians are smart.
    Blacks are naturally the better athletes.
    The best doctors are Jewish.
    The Swiss are exactingly anal.
    Germans are great engineers.

    Job specific:

    Stock brokers are no better than car salesmen.
    Realtors are no better than car salesmen.
    Car salesmen are the lowest.
    Pilots are drunk cheats.
    Accountants are boring.
    Lawyers love to argue.

    We all generalize. And profiling happens at all levels of society. From the CIA to the street sweeper. Stereotypes exist for a reason.

    Not every American puts work before family. Not all Asians are smart. Not all blacks are better athletes.

    And so on.

    Brasilians, by and large, are much better at living in the moment. Which is admirable. They don’t live in the past, and they don’t live in the future. They live in the moment. A much better way to live emotionally. But comes with a cost of lack of planning. Lack of order. And life, as a result, is a full cornucopia feast every day for a brasilian. But it comes with a cost as you never know what will happen next. Exciting! And exhausting.

    Sorry it offends you to broadbrush an entire ethnic group as freewheeling and undisciplined. But it is… a stereotype…true. Just as corruption, “defines”, Brasil politics. Politics and corruption are synonymous in Brasil.

    And in truth, we are going that way in our politics of the USA. It doesn’t, “define”, us just yet. But we are getting very close. And it doesn’t matter, democrat or republican. They are liars.

    How’s that for an occupational stereotype for you?

    Comment by Steve | March 30, 2013 | Reply

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