Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/794/

Brazilian of Japanese descents (Portuguese)

(Portuguese) Well, I don’t think it’s possible for us to separate, right? With our appearance, you can’t separate yourself and say, “I’m not Nikkei.” Not only because people, society, everyone who’s around you demands it. They very often call out, “Hey, Japanese, Japanese.” In reality they’re calling your Nikkei side, right.

So, I think that at a certain point in my life, and I can tell you that it was as a young person, we struggle a lot with this thing of being of Japanese descent. You enter the general society, right, in this case Brazilian society, and you want to be Brazilian like everybody else. In truth, I believe that because you are Nikkei, you do have some unique qualities, you have a culture that you inherited from your ancestors. So then, at a certain point, this becomes a strong influence in your life, right. And then my work, you know, has always been connected to the Japanese community. But, I just don’t think you can separate it. For me personally, I couldn’t separate it because I’d always be in conflict with myself.

So I think the great challenge in my life, from the time I was a young person all the way to the present, is how to bring these two sides together, and how to use these two parts in a creative way. In a way that contributes to society or to culture in general.


Brazil Hawaii identity Japanese Americans Nikkei United States

Date: October 7, 2005

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Ann Kaneko

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum.

Interviewee Bio

Célia Abe Oi was born in Itapetininga in 1950. Her grandparents had arrived in Brazil in 1929. Originally from a family of fishermen on the island of Atatajima, near the city of Hiroshima, upon their arrival they began working in the Brazilian countryside, initially in the cotton fields and later growing potatoes. Her parents and siblings also worked in agriculture. In 1968, she began studying History in college, and in 1979 completed her course in Journalism at the Cásper Líbero College. In the mid-1970s, she began working in the editorial room of the Portuguese section of the Diário Nippak newspaper. Célia contributed to various journals and publications tied to the Japanese-Brazilian community, until she became the director of the Museum of the History of Japanese Immigration in 1998. (July 26, 2006)

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