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Download An Invisible Minority: Brazilians in New York City epub

by Dr. Maxine L. Margolis

In the mid-1980s, a relatively new immigrant stream from Brazil began to arrive in New York City. Like other immigrant populations, many of the new arrivals were undocumented, but, unlike other groups, most were from middle-class backgrounds and few wished to extend their stay beyond a few years.
Download An Invisible Minority: Brazilians in New York City epub
ISBN: 0813033233
ISBN13: 978-0813033235
Category: Politics
Subcategory: Social Sciences
Author: Dr. Maxine L. Margolis
Language: English
Publisher: University Press of Florida; Revised, Expanded ed. edition (February 22, 2009)
Pages: 176 pages
ePUB size: 1298 kb
FB2 size: 1971 kb
Rating: 4.8
Votes: 923
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BOOK REVIEW: MARGOLIS, Maxine L., An Invisible Minority: Brazilians in New York City
ISBN: 978-0813033235
Read June, 27th-30th, 2017.

“Brazilian immigrants in New York City are the focus of this book”, says the very first, lapidar sentence of this precious gem written by Maxine L. Margolis, professor emerita of the University of Florida. But this focus spreads light around itself: from Margolis description of Brazilians’ relations to their environment, from the way the feel, live, dream; from the way Americans react to them, the reader can gather rare-quality glimpses on early 21st century society.
Margolis is one of those writers who captures their readers. I could not let the book go. In a clear, sympathetic, fluid prose, she builds momentum, tying each chapter and section to the next, making questions pop out in the readers mind just paragraphs before addressing them in rigorous, scholarly, yet light and clear manner. Some pictures illustrate the main environments in which the story unfolds, from lines at the American consulate in Rio to construction works back in Brazil financed by remittances, NYC shops, warehouses and parades.
The book is divided into a Preface, six chapters and a post-script. The Preface deals with the book’s subject (also immigration to the US as a whole, with a few hints at Brazilian diaspora to other destinations) and research method (snowball sampling, that is, interviewing people who were introduced by people formerly interviewed).
Chapter 1, “a new ingredient to the melting pot” is about geographical origins in Brazil and main destinations within NYC; numbers of immigrants; reasons for their invisibility, mainly related to the job market and wage differences; the decision to migrate, related as it is the the transitory goals of most Brazilians - practically all of whom initially want to go back and see themselves as sojourners, not settlers; main difficulties and tasks upon arrival; and the impact of xenophobia. Chapter 2, Brazilian Immigrants - a Portrait, debunks the myth of the poor male immigrant fleeing hunger from some rural village and shows Brazilians in NYC are middle class Brazilians, often with university diplomas and, anyway, higher average education than Americans, fleeing a closed society which offers no opportunities for personal growth - mainly by denying them jobs. Social processes of migration, roles of personal networks, and how they play into Brazilian highly hierarchical social structure, internal prejudice, and the new outlook all of this assumes in the new, American environment.
Chapter 3 deals with job market: why Americans hire immigrants, and illegal ones; Brazilian hard work ethics; the low paid nature of menial jobs, which nonetheless offer good wages by Brazilian standards; differences in legal and illegal work; and the main industries of entry-level jobs: housework, restaurants, driving, street selling, construction; shoe-shining and night club dancing.
Chapter 4 describes the typical lives of Brazilians in NYC, maybe focusing too much on illegal immigrants. Psychological conflicts of renouncing to the “gentleman’s complex” that bar so many Brazilians from manual labor, and to the familiar ties, as well as the difficulties in adapting to American values of privacy and social organization, are discussed. Intriguingly, while the Brazilian unique concept of “saudades” is correctly understood and translated, it is not related to social bonding habits. Financial pressure and fear of “Tia Mimi” (Aunt Mimi, Portuguese nickname for the Immigration Service) weaken social bonds within the community; churches and faith do not provide them as with Americans, with some exceptions among Evangelicals.
Chapter 5 further looks into the internal composition of the Brazilian communities: the sense of Brazilian identity, racial divisions and the utterly more white character of migrants when contrasted to the Brazilian population; American ignorance about Brazil, which may account for some of the reasons of the community’s invisibility, as Brazilians are excluded from any Census category; and the liberating impact migration has upon Brazilian women - who become increasingly wanting to stay.
Chapter 6 discusses the reasons why so many Brazilians finally decide to stay. Longing for home compels them back; but children and anti-immigrant policies make a return home increasingly riskier, actually backfiring and creating incentives for immigrants to stay. The impacts of increased American xenophobia after September 11, 2001, are discussed in the Postscript.
With a keen eye to the human dimensions of the Brazilian community in NYC, Prof. Margolis certainly managed to write a book which is larger than its focus, and deserves to be read.
This is an excellent book for second generation Brazilians who would like to learn more about the Brazilian expereince in the US. It has a fantastic range of subjects.