It is interesting that after a post of how I fit in, how I am just one in a crowd of many that I had an interesting discussion with a friend over dinner yesterday night. He prefaced that he did not mean to belittle my experience as a minority in the United States but for the first time in his life he saw and felt what it is to be a minority. My friend and the others I was with were blonde with blue eyes and very fair skin. Though Brazilians do come in all shapes colors and sizes, my friends are unavoidably American. He discussed how it felt when people look at you in a peculiar way. Make assumptions about you. He speaks Portugeese but people automatically assume he cant and break out into English. In restaurants he sometimes gets rude service by staff who are nice to natives but short with him assuming he is another brash American. I have respect for him that he chose to take this opportunity to see things from another perspective because not everyone is doing so.
In “The Late George Apley” George describes visiting Europe with his family as traveling like raisins in a pie. You can cut a slice and put it in a different place but the raisin stays where it is. Some people on the trip are like raisins. Today a child at an NGO we were visiting had a temper tantrum and based on a quick observation an untreated but severe behavior disorder. The screams and moans were haunting but what do some of the law students do at this moment? Eagerly rush out to snap what was unfolding. Two minutes later another child began climbing an unstable ladder and instead of trying to get him off they reached into their bags for cameras laughing: “Look at that one” If you would use the same language and engage in behavior appropriate only if visiting the zoo exhibits, check yourself. Sometimes we act like we are in little bubbles and other people are “them” and we are oh so different from “them” I cant imagine someone coming into my classroom and snapping pictures of American children misbehaving or suffering from behavior disorders. It also saddened me today at the NGO where you are confronted with orphans rescued from the street, you see their livign conditions which are sadly better than what they had before and there are people who still complain. Who sigh complaining that they are missing optimal beach time. What is registering before your eyes that leaves you only focused on how this eating away at beach time despite the destitution around you
I walk through these streets and see beauty but I also see stark poverty. I see people who lack access to water and sanitation. And these same people are hauling 50 pounds of wares on their backs struggling through the beach hoping to feed their families that night. I sit under my umbrella on the beach and watch them walk by and i think about their life. How many mouths is he feeding? Is he happy? Going to Parachi (see below) and seeing the island of the Caraceros how can I complain that my shower is lukewarm, or the bellman doesnt always understand me. When I do complain it should be tempered with perspective. I like to think I’m tolerant. That I am not judgmental on people. That I have an open mind. But seeing the behavior of my peers today I felt judgmental. I could not see the other perspective. My friend Nicole said that there are all types of people and they happen to be different from me. Instead of judging I should accept that not everyone has similar views on life. I’m sad at their behavior and I’m sad at my own judgments towards them.