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I Am Black: Translated


Luis Otavio Guimaraes
Born: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Live: Newark, NJ

Eu sou Negro
When I was invited to be part of this project I was exited but also confused. I don’t see myself separated from others because of my race, to tell you the truth I don’t see race at all.

 I was raised in 80’s and 90’s in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.­­­
I never had a problem with the color of my skin, my mother raised me and my sisters with the philosophy of always being polite, go to school and always being clean and well groomed. My father on the other hand did say many times that black people have a hard life, that our future was doomed if we did not go to school, but I did not understand him. When he was younger he had been called funny names like telephone (in the 50’s when he was a kid, telephones only came in the color black) and other things, but it was the opposite for me. I was voted many times to be the class representative in my pre-high school years, I was one of the first ones to get picked to be part a team in the gym class, or in my neighbor hood playground.

The only division/separation I noticed when I was growing up was that I couldn’t afford things that some of my friends, who came from rich families, could afford. Not having my own bedroom, not being able to travel to Disney on our winter breaks.

As a teenager with my swimming skills I was able to get a scholarship to a private high school.  That was great, I noticed that I was 1 of the 5 dark skin people in that building, but once again the color of my skin never caused me any problem. I made friends really fast, the teachers and faculty were very helpful, but I did noticed once again the gap between myself and a few from the rest of my classmates. Their parents would dropped them off at school with fancy expensive cars, they wore branded clothes like CK or Guess Hugo Boss, and that was some something completely out of reach.

I live now in the US, Newark, NJ to be more precise.  Never faced any problem because of the color of my skin. I do hear things that happen to others because of their race, but for me it’s still the same. I work in NYC and I don’t have a problem catching a cab, or getting a great table at a nice restaurant. At work I was hand picked to be one of the main managers in my department.
The Sad part of all of this is to hear from a friend that I’m blind. But I guess I still carry my mother’s philosophy. Eu sou negro and 34 years old but still going to school to broaden my view of the world; I’m clean and polite and optimistic, and I do believe that is the key that opens up a lot of doors in my life.