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.
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