Make yourself at home, as crazy as our home is

Being born and raised in Brazil in a Brazilian Family whose ancestry is conveniently lost, I don´t know anything about jus saguinis, or right of blood; what defines my nationality is jus soli, right of the land, the fact that I was born in Brazil.  A state citizenship is more complicated than that, even here, but we are pretty lax and welcoming, compared to other countries, and it is my feeling that we tend to accommodate more and we are more sentimental about it.

Blame it on our Iberian founders.

Anyway, most families like mine see people who demand double citizenship with suspicion. Where is your heart? Who are you? You can´t serve two gods.  At the same time we tend to welcome those who throw their lots with us, so those who embrace our citizenship are welcome, cause they chose us, and we know that we usually do not acknowledge double citizens under our laws… so…

Stateless citizens might have a good shot with us… as three siblings from Lebanon said on TV. People may be born stateless for different reasons, and in several countries this leads to being undocumented making it nearly impossible (or indeed impossible) to have access to education, health services, even amble freely for fear of being sent to jail. That´s the case of these two kids, whose parents of different religions got illegally married in Syria, escaped to Lebanon and due to being undocumented in Lebanon, their parents union being illegal and a series of kafkian problems that unfortunately did exist became people without a nationality, citizenship and documents, studying by favour of other who agreed to bend the law, being helped by others who bent the law, but who dreamed of existing, of having a sense of being welcome somewhere. When one of the kids got ill, one of them, the girl, gathered courage and knocked at the door of every embassy in Beirut and the only one which helped them was Brazil´s.

She might not have realized that since the times of the Empire, the levant has sent its Christians to us, so Syrians and Lebanese are not strangers, they are “cousins”, but they were given some proviso documents and allowed to travel to Brazil, where they were hosted by Brazilian families and are going through the process of acquiring citizenship. Two years, and they speak fluent Portuguese, and feel integrated with the families, as Young adults, the other girl already thinking of making her own Family here, and the Young man unfortunaly died in a robbery as he was coming back from work in the city of Belo Horizonte. Did it make the Young woman who gave the interview hate us? Nope, her brother had the opportunity to work, with documents. He was buried in Lebanon because of her parentes, and she´s convinced her biological parents to visit them here and meet the “foster families” and the new country. On the other hand, I can´t pretend to know her true feelings, can I?

She argued she is becoming someone with documents, with a state to back her up, she is becoming “someone” and is working with the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees on the issue of stateless citizenship and on growing awareness about this problem.

We may live our whole lives taking for granted our national citizenship rights, what it means on a deeper level. Some people relinquish their citizenship as a form of protest and forget that it is not about government or just a state, but about existing and moving in the world, it is like geoplacement, being something that is allowed to be heard and have a say in a community because it accepts you. Even if you are a Foreigner in a strange land, others acknowledge you, they do understand you on some level. I know it sounds meek and conservative, but then, againbrazil_flag_map, it is our lizard brain at work, and it keeps us alive, so lets give it come credit.

Well, we are so far from perfect it is hard to describe or explain. We´ve been going through yet another crisis, and the road is as bumpy as Always. Life is not easy for anyone, and I can´t foresee  any improvements in the near future. We share the laughter, the tears, the lack of Jobs, the inflation and the violence. We offer a clean slate, our home, as messy as it is. So many third generation immigrants don´t even know how to speak the language of their grandparents, have no idea of where is the little town they were born and are well integrated. We have Carnaval Queens, third generation from japanese immigrants (we say our japs are better than other´s), with Italian Family names, half German mulatas who are beauty icons. So… come and make yourself at home. You might end up as president, mayor, beauty queen, and even forgetting where your Family came from.


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