Last year I did a podcast about fitting in with Brazilians. That podcast explained some of the things one can do to have a better experience when in Brazil. It is never enjoyable to visit a new place and be treated as an outsider. Brazilians are, in general, a friendly people, but their country is socially unique. People from the US, Europe, and other Westernized areas of the industrialized “great Northern hemisphere,” should learn a little about the culture before arrival. Doing so will allow you to fully appreciate your experience in the South American giant.
This post is the first of my second part of the series on fitting in with Brazilians. This knowledge can be used in Brazil and within Brazilian communities in the US. There will be a new podcast soon.
Books to read:
- The Masters and the Slaves
by Gilberto Freyre. This book attempts to explain the racial situation in Brazil through a sociological analysis of the three major groups inhabiting Brazil: Blacks (African slaves), Europeans (Portuguese colonizers) and “Indians” (the native Americans). In reality, Freyre’s book illuminates how the wealthy elite of Brazil want to portray their nation: as a racial democracy, where all the races are treated with respect. By claiming Brazil a racial democracy, the elites have prevented, through the years, those in the lower classes from uniting along racial grounds (i.e. sustaining a civil rights movement as was done in the U.S.).
by Alma Guillermoprieto. The samba dance is known throughout the world for its sensuality and beauty, the dance of Brazil. In the favelas, or ghettos (often shantytowns) of the major cities, people prepare almost all year for the opportunity to dance in the annual Carnaval (what the U.S. refers to as Mardi Gras) celebration in the streets of their city. In Rio de Janeiro, they hold the largest such celebration in the world (I broadcast the event on this site each year). Guillermoprieto arrives at the conclusion, after spending a year in Rio de Janeiro, that Samba and Carnaval are partly institutions used by those in power to placate the masses of people, who are VERY poor. By allowing the masses a moment in the spotlight, the elites are able to retain their power and stave off unity among the poor. But, then again, the masses DO have a day in the spotlight, which is more than the poor in other nations can claim. As you can see, the situation is very complex.
- Don’t Blame it on Rio: The Real Deal Why Men Go to Brazil (for sex).
By Jewel Woods.
Woods explores the reasons why men, and African American men in particular, fly thousands of miles to visit Brazil. He argues that men are unhappy at home and find in Brazil the types of women they long for in the U.S.A. This book is informative not just about Brazil, which is the setting of the adventures and case studies, but about male-female relations in the U.S.A., which according to Woods is the source of the problem for these men who feel the need to leave.
- Around the World in 80 Lays: Adventures in Sex Travel
By Joe Diamond.
Now, here is the book that names-names. This book will inform men who want to go to Brazil to meet women what the experience is really like. Diamond visits all the hot spots in Rio frequented by gringos (foreigners).
Movies to watch:
1. Black Orpheus. This movie, which won an Oscar for Best Foreign film in 1959, is mandatory. There is a new blu-ray edition released this year. Carlos Jobim, who sang the “Girl From Ipanema,” prepared the soundtrack. Orpheus is the story of a man who loves a woman, but this love is destined for tragedy. The movie is set in the hills of Rio to a samba beat.
2. Bossa Nova. Watch this move by the American director Amy Irving for a portrayal of the ideal life will/should be for a gringo while in Rio!
3. Amor Bandido. This is old school Copacabana. The now almost gone Copa red-light district is the setting of this story of a young man and young woman trying to survive in the fast lane. Great visuals of how some people live in Copacabana.
More to come later. And look for the next podcast this week. Time to be announced.