I left home on the 18th of September, and arrived in the UK on the 19th. It’s been six months and a half now. Six months and a half of growth, many challenges, many things learnt, many dreams come true. My life here is a blessing, for several reasons – I have good friends, get to travel a lot, feel much safer walking around the streets, and, to be honest, I love the complications of doing life on my own.
However, this is a text about one very expected reality shock.
Leicester, in spite of being the home town of the future champions of the Premier League, is also considered to be the most diverse city in the United Kingdom, and that is by no means a lie. I suspect that, amongst the people of my acquaintance, I handle people of at least 20 different nationalities on a daily basis, from immigrants to people born british, but raised in their family heritage. I go to university with people from Pakistan to the Baltics, always chat to the owner of the Costcutter next to my student court, born and raised in India, and my british best friend, Hannah, is half chinese, half mauritian.
Hannah herself was the one who told me with the proper words about the impressions that I had been been collecting over the past months, of how there is so much diversity around, but so little mix, in proportion. In fact, she said that mixed races couples only became an actual reality from her parents’ generation, but, still, we see the division between different people. There are very strong boundaries, like, for example, between chinese people and indian and black people; and, inside the universities, most would rather hang with other students from their own fellow country. The biggest division, though, is still between english people and non-english people.
In this crossfire, I, one always considered white enough not to suffer with racism in my home country, have found myself caught.
The title of this text connects my three realities – as a a girl, woman, as a brazilian citizen, and as someone who currently lives in Europe. These realities are the source of these restlessness and frustration that have convinced me to write tonight.
As a woman, chauvinism in society paints me as an object all the time. As a brazilian woman, I carry several different heritages in my blood, amongst Portugal, Spain, Cape Verde and indigenous people. As a brazilian woman living in Europe, I am always evaluated under the specific stereotypes designed for my country, whilst still standing with the rest of the non-european foreigners as mixed-race, never good enough as those whose veins carry blood subtly called pure (I assume no one has been reading Harry Potter with the right approach).
Working in pubs across the city, it was never that hard to understand that most of english boys would rather buy drinks from my english friends. I’ve heard the most absurd comments, such as “how brown” my eyes are, and, once, I was asked twice if I was asian. Actually, they so eagerly ask about the heritage of non-english girls, as if there was a checklist of different races to be tasted.
The current impression is that, in their eyes, regardless of how sucessfully we could fit in their society, we would still carry the badge of foreigners. Exotics – that innocent word that turns people into objects to be appreciated. The ones who leave their countries to steal jobs and husbands from others. Samba dancers, carnival. The girlfriends their parents would not approve.
My refuge, in this frustration, is being sure that God is the One with all the answers that I need, and this subject is not an exception. My life, my destiny, my paths, everything has been surrendered to the Almighty. And my citizenship is in Heaven, as Paul said in Philippians 3:20. As long as I’m on Earth, I will always be a foreign. Long live us pilgrims!