Racism! People and the police tell me all the time that Brazil isn’t my country, and that I should go back to my country. Sometimes the police also hit us. I have a video showing a Brazilian police officer punching a Congolese girl. She fainted. In my country there is no racism, but I lived in Angola for five years before coming to Brazil and there is racism there. It’s too much, it’s worse than here. In Angola, the Congolese have no right to work. No right to live. Every day the police enter houses and hospitals to catch Congolese people. If you don’t have documents, they send you back.
In Brazil, when you look for a job in some off license or a bar, they say, “We prefer Brazilian only, we dislike Africans.” Or when you are on the subway and a Brazilian stares at you badly, and tries to intimidate you. You always hear that Africans are coming here to dirty their country. Sometimes you just walk past someone on the street and they say something to you out of the blue. It is shocking!
Another important thing that restricts our freedom is gender violence. In my country there is a lot of violence against women. A man can hit a woman at his will in the middle of the street –whoever he wants, even his mother. Sometimes he doesn’t even know you. The police don’t protect you from that. They protect the NGO people who go to our country – as if we were going to attack these people who come from outside – but we are the ones suffering and we don’t receive the protection of the police. People who get protection are the ones with money. Who has money has power, right?
There are no discussions about gender or sexuality there. In Congo people are all the time calling you a fag or a whore. Children grow up with those words in their mouth. In Angola it is more common to see people of the same sex relating to each other, but in the Congo, if you are lesbian or gay you have to do it secretly. If you come out, they’ll be all over you. If you wear short clothes, they will be messing with you on the streets.
G. L., Five years in Brazil
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