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Excerpt from “Escape to Brazil”
by Francis Holland
Francis L. Holland, Esq. earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish from Rhode Island College and a Juris Doctor from Northeastern University School of Law, in Boston, after which he was managing attorney for immigration legal services programs in Fall River, Massachusetts and Newark, New Jersey. Mr. Holland speaks Spanish, Portuguese and French, and resides in Bahia, Brazil. This article is an excerpt from the Francis L. Holland blog – http://francislholland.blogspot.com/
Two years before I left the United States, I drove from Massachusetts to New Jersey for a job interview as a managing attorney. On the way back to Massachusetts, I decided to take a break from driving (aren’t we advised to take a break every once in a while), and I got off the highway somewhere near Harlem. Immediately, two Black and white police officers stopped my car, which was registered to my employer, the Catholic Church.
Like gun slingers from the Wild West, these officers of American lawlessness approached my car from behind, with their hands on their guns, treating me as if I was terribly dangerous, simply – I feel – because they perceived the dark color of my skin. They let me go on my way only when they determined that there was simply no reason whatsoever to have stopped me in the first place.
Ironically, when I left the US for France in 2000, I spent two years driving there, and in Italy, without ever once being stopped by police. Yet, during a one-week visit to the US in 2000, I was stopped twice by police. Did I really become so much more potentially dangerous just by crossing the ocean?
Here in Brazil, with so many Black and mulatto people who would be considered Black in the United States, and so many apparently “white” people whose immediate relatives (mothers, fathers, and grandparents) are Black, I do not feel like an anomaly or like an elephant being hunted for its tusk.
I prefer to live in Brazil for a number of other reasons. Brazil’s constitution provides for a right to health care provided by the state; the US Constitution views a right to guns as more important.
People don’t use the term “interracial marriage” in Brazil, because they understand that virtually everyone here has white and Black ancestors, if not immediate family and, in any case, bi-chromatic relationships are so common as to be unremarkable.
Did you know that it is unlawful to insult someone in Brazil on the basis of or in association with their skin color? So most of what we decry as “overt racism” in the United States is simply illegal in Brazil, and can lead to immediate arrest and detention.
Brazilians understand this, but US Americans do not, so I’ll just continue living in Brazil, where civilization has advanced beyond some of the most overt “First World” color-aroused stupidities.