Brutal Kindness

Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti, Vancouver
September 26, 2017

We welcome you to our country
Our borders open only to a few
We ask for nothing in return, except
That you recognize the deepest wisdom
That when in Rome you should pay tribute to the Romans

Therefore, you must
speak our language
admire our deeds
adopt our dreams
obey our laws
embrace our values
praise our intelligence
like our food
fulfil our expectations
mimic our behaviour
contribute to our economy
aspire to be like us
commit to serving this country
dedicate your life to our people
and be thankful for our efforts to help you

We offer you unlimited hospitality
We chose you amongst countless others
We ask for nothing in return, except
That you acknowledge the natural exceptionality of our people
Expressed precisely in your inclusion in our society

Therefore, you must
know your place
do as you are told
strive for your best
work twice as hard
feel indebted
show good manners
be clean and organized
get an education
dress appropriately, smell nice
pay your duties
lay low, be happy, focus on positive things
use language that we can understand
entertain us with your culture, when requested
and jump off the balcony, if required

We give you access to the best welfare and education system
We expect you to show us that you truly deserved it
We ask you for nothing in return, except
That you appreciate the privilege of being allowed amongst us

Therefore, under no circumstance,
should you break our trust
complain or communicate disapproval
expose our inadequacies, reveal our contradictions
disclose our insecurities, question our values
challenge our authority or understanding of reality
make up unreasonable accusations
fuel internal dissent
defy our right to distinguish our heroes
remind us of what we choose to deny
speak of the past we want to forget
outperform, outsmart, outshine us
or bite the hands that feed you

We will do everything in our power for you to properly fit in
We are certain you will acknowledge our benevolence
We expect nothing in return, except
Your gratitude and compliance

Therefore, you will not mind when we lovingly
limit your autonomy
mute your conscience
undermine your confidence
interrupt your dreams
place your body and mind under surveillance
and shape your subjectivity into conformity
for your own good

We will give you incredible opportunities
in an incomparable country
We ask for nothing in return, except
…that you salute our openness, altruism and sense of justice


Nicolson, M., de Oliveira Andreotti, V., & Mafi, B. F. (2016). The unstated politics of stranger making in Europe: A brutal kindness. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 19(4), 335-351. Available at: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1367549415592896

Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti

Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti

Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti holds a Canada Research Chair in Race, Inequalities and Global Change at the Department of Educational Studies, University of British Columbia. Her teaching and research focus on analyses of historical and systemic patterns of reproduction of knowledge and inequalities and how these limit or enable possibilities for collective existence.

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