Note from BW of Brazil: We most definitely need to have more stories such as this one. Of course it will always be the futebol players, rappers and actors that will always get the fame, glory and admiration, and not taking away from those professions, but we must also acknowledge that sports and entertainment are often areas that serve to keep black people locked in stereotypes. It is often assumed in Brazil that if a black man dresses well or drives a nice car, he simply MUST be an athlete or an entertainer of some sorts. At the same time, the image that most people will have of a doctor, lawyer, dentist or college professor will be a person with white skin, straight hair and light colored eyes. In Brazil, statistically, it does make sense that one has such images of the people active in these fields as white people DO dominate these professions. But there are in fact black Brazilians who also work in these areas and black children, and adults for that matter, need to see such people to know that they too can reach these posts that people deem to be so important. With that in mind, meet Dr. Fred William Nicácio.
Dr. Fred William Nicácio represents the black community through medicine
by Amanda Martins *
Fred William Nicácio was born and raised in the city of Rio de Janeiro. His family resides in the interior of same city, is composed of two siblings and their parents. According to the doctor, his family is relatively small because his parents have few siblings, so he has few direct relatives.
Professions and growth
He exercises two professions, he is a physiotherapist specialized in intensive therapy, a graduate of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and is a general practitioner. He longs to do plastic surgery or orthopedics but hasn’t yet decided.
Fred William gave himself the deadline of two years to decide what he really wants and reports: “I went into physiotherapy very young at the age of seventeen and graduated at age 21. At 23 I was already a specialist and was already teaching in a private college. I guess I didn’t choose to go into physical therapy, there was some pressure from the family to get into some college once I finished high school. I wanted to do marketing and advertising, but I was not allowed by my father. Medicine was a thoughtful and premeditated choice, because I fell in love with medicine while working as a physiotherapist. I studied for a year and a half, tried nine vestibulares (college entrance exams), until I passed.”
Fred William mentions that the challenges for blacks, whether men or women, are enormous. He believes that conditions for the mulher negra (black women) are even more difficult because they are women and have to deal with machismo and racism that work in parallel.
“I’ve always been very encouraged by my family to study. They always tried in every way to give me and my brothers ways of developing the intellect. We were never rich, my parents are of very poor origin. But they managed in their little study, to establish a standard of living that would give us support to have and be what they could not have or be.”
The doctor was already photographic model during his adolescence, encouraged by his mother. His father didn’t like the idea very well, but he eventually accepted it over time, and that’s how Fred projected himself into the media, pushing an obstacle and affirming, “Because that’s exactly what we black people have to do all our lives, push through daily obstacles. Overcome prejudiced looks, words of disdain, attitudes of contempt … Undoubtedly, the support of my family and the foundation they gave me was essential to overcoming my challenges as a black man, son of blacks and grandson of blacks.”
Fred William believes that the greatest challenge of the comunidade negra (black community) is to make black people believe in themselves. Breaking the imposed standards and giving birth to a pride of who we are, where we came from, loving our features and our ancestry.
“No one can tell the black that his place is in the suburbs or in underemployment. Not undeserving in any way whoever doesn’t have an education or who lives in suburb or periphery, never. But what cannot happen is this brainwashing they do on our people, massacring them and enclosing them into that reality. As if it were a certain destination, as if they were doomed to live like this because that is what blacks deserve. It is challenging and at the same time gratifying to bring about the breakup of this pensamento escravista (slave thought),” the doctor says.
Fred receives numerous messages through social networks and says that the experience is motivating. People have it as inspiration and representativeness in such an an espaço tão elitista e embranquecido (such an elitist and whitened space) as is the scope of medicine. People are proud even not knowing him personally, and this is one of the reasons he seek ways to enhance the black community through his professions and existence.
“I make a point of correcting people when they refer to me with “adjectives” like moreno bonito (handsome dark guy), mulato lindo (handsome mulatto), roxinho (little purple guy), among others that try to soften my color. As if it were wrong or ugly to say that Dr. Fred Nicacio is black. I receive many reports from patients who I tend to and leave the SUS (health care program) office happily for the simple fact that they have been attended by a médico negro (black doctor). It saves my day, makes my soul happy, makes my eyes shine, and my heart is filled with satisfaction to know that that man or that black woman will spend the day satisfied for having seen a representative of our people, in the place that is seen as a place that must be dominated by pessoas brancas (white people),” says Dr. Fred.
Fred has referências negras (black references) from various segments, both nationally and internationally. Some of them are: Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Naomi Campbell, Beyoncé, Tyson Backford, Zezé Motta, Lázaro Ramos, Taís Araújo, Cris Viana, Alcione (Brazilian diva, singer), Ruth de Souza (queen, actress) Milton Nascimento (singer), Emilio Santiago (singer), Tim Maia, Zileide Silva, Glória Maria … and says that he could continue to mention several names of black people who represent him, who influence his way of life by being gifted and of utmost importance to the spaces that blacks struggle to conquer and in the way they did it. Being these, protagonists and inspirations for generations.
Fred William and the future
“My plans today are to have a good residence in orthopedics or plastic surgery, to get married, to have children, and to continue making noise to show that there will be gente preta (black people) everywhere. I would like to be part of projects such as médicos sem fronteira (doctors without borders) and go to Africa to provide free medical care. I also think of participating in television programs that provide assistance and information to people (like TV programs Bem-Estar, A casa é sua, Mais Você, etc …). “
Doctor Fred leaves a final message:
“My final message to my people, cor da minha cor (color of my color) is that I pride myself in being part of all of this, it is wonderful to have in my skin all the culture that only our people know. Sou feliz por ter nascido negro com traços negros, ser filho e neto de negros e ter chegado onde cheguei (I am happy to have been born black with black features, to be the son and grandson of blacks) and to have gotten when I am. Enfrentando olhares e palavras racistas (Facing racist glances and words) with a head held high and attitude of courage and respectful posture. And if I did it, you can do it, too. Don’t lower your heads, otherwise your crowns fall. Vocês são príncipes e princesas (You are princes and princesses), and you will inherit the world!”
*Amanda Martins: Graduated in Law from Presbyterian College Mackenzie Rio, Researcher in Energy at the Núcleo de Pesquisas Brasil-Chile (Nucleus of Brazil-Chile Research), Editor, member of the Organização Carioquice Negra (Black Carioquice Organization), member of the Liga Afro-brasileira (Afro-Brazilian League) and writer.