“You’re Brazilian? You don’t look it!”

Daphne de Souza Lima Sorensen,
Oneonta, NY.

I’m a white woman with a perfect American accent. I have a university degree, a husband and a 3 year old daughter. By all accounts, I am a “typical” middle-class woman. Except that I am not American and even though I have lived in the USA on and off for years, I am decidedly and emphatically Brazilian. When Americans meet me and ask me where I am from, they invariably do a double-take when they hear “Rio de Janeiro” instead of Connecticut or even California, I can’t tell you how many times people then utter my six words, or a variation thereof: “You mean you’re not American?” or, “But you sound like an American.” When people say the “you don’t look Brazilian” line, I usually ask, “What do Brazilians look like?” to which some people have actually said, “Well, darker….” In fact, that was the reaction of my husband’s (then boyfriend) best friend when he first saw a photo of me. “She’s Brazilian? I thought she’d be darker!” Whereas some people probably want to be less “ethnic” sometimes, I struggle with trying to stick out and show off my nationality….

 

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