I waited somewhat impatiently in a perpetually long line to use the restroom at Sankofa African Bar & Restaurant in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, and when I glanced around, I saw two black women behind me whispering to each other and smiling. I later learned that one of the women was Brazilian and the other was African. Quite casually, one of them asked me (in Portuguese): “Where are you from? Are you from Brazil?” Before I could answer, the other smiled and chimed in: “See, I think she’s African, maybe from … Angola?” The other responded quickly: “Look, she has a long face, and that forehead.” The other interrupted: “But her lips (looked at my lips and frowned) are too … (shook her head no).” Curious about the interaction, I remained quiet and smiled coyly, refusing to speak in order not to reveal my accent and/or my identity. When the anticipation (and my discomfort with them deconstructing my facial features) was too much to bear, I revealed: “I’m from the United States.” To which one of the women said to the other: “See I told you! But, you (referring to me) look like you could be from here [Brazil].” This brief interaction alludes to what happens when diasporic groups meet: misidentifications may complicate coalition building, but expectations of solidarity and similarity are also suggestive of the possibilities of diasporic engagement.
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- Brokering Black Brazil or Fostering Global Citizenship? Global Engagement that Empowers Black Brazilian Communities
- Copyright Year
- Palgrave Macmillan US