~ 25th to 26th August 2006 ~
Black & White
One of those stereotypical peripherical villages in an African country. A False Memory tells me I’m in a poor town in Angola . I’m there to work as a volunteer teacher, and it’s my first day of work, so I’m going to introduce myself to the kids. One of them, in the back rows, makes a very dry, sarcastic remark about whites only bringing complication to their lives. I realize all the kids are dark skinned.
I stop my introduction, and ask the boy’s name. It’s Lucas. I ask him what makes him think I’m white. He looks rather perplex at the aparently stupid question.
Lucas i[/i]: ‘Are you going to tell me you’re not a white?’
‘Actually, yes. I’m not.’
Lucas: ‘So you’re saying you’re a black?’ — Laugher.
‘No, I’m not a black either.’ — Silence. Some kids in the back row make another joke and giggle.
Lucas: ‘Of course you’re a white!’
‘I’m not a white; drop that!’ — I try to sound nice, I don’t want a fight in the first day.
Lucas: ‘Oh no? Than what are you?’
‘I’m brazillian.’ — The kids burst into laugher. Which is good. It’s easier to use rethorics against someone in a good humour about you.
Lucas: ‘“Brazillian” isn’t a race!’
Lucas: ‘You’re a white brazillian.’
‘No I’m not.’ — The kids exchange funny looks throughout the dialogue. They must be thinking I’m insane.
Lucas: ‘Yes you are. Look at your skin.’ — I look at my arms.
Lucas: ‘Your skin is white.’
Lucas: ‘So—You’re a white. Don’t you know these things?’
‘Tell you the truth, no. I don’t.’ — Perplex exclamations and looks. — ‘That’s just not how it works in Brazil.’ — The kids all look suddently interested.
Lucas: ‘No??! And how does it work there?’
[i]Well, you see… My mother comes from a huge Italian family—a white family, yes. My father, in the other hand, comes from a Lebanese family from his grandmother, a Syrian family from his grandfather, a Portuguese family from his other grandmother and an African tribe from the Madeira Islands.
So you see, I can’t be a white, because I’m also an Arab. And I can’t be an Arab, because I’m also Portuguese. And I can’t be Portuguese because I’m also African. But I can’t be African, because I’m white. So I don’t have a race, I’m just Brazillian.[/i]
Lucas: ‘But your skin isn’t black.’
‘It really isn’t. But look at me. Look at my nose, my mouth, hands. Do they look like a white man’s would? They look like a black’s body would look like, don’t they?’ — The kids stare at me silent.
Another kid: ‘So you don’t have a race?’
‘Almost no–one in Brazil has a race!’
Yet another kid: ‘But… What about the blacks that went to Brazil?’
‘They had children with the whites, and the indians, and the Arabs, and the Japanese, and now there aren’t many pure blacks left there either.’ — The kids’ eyes are shining.
One of the kids: ‘Cool! I want to go to Brazil!’ — I expect one of them to ask me about prejudice, because I’d like to explain how it works in Brazil, but soon after that I wake up.
Suggested reading: “Race in Brazil,” Wikipedia.