Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Rejane Musis : Somerville's Practitioner of Praticutuca

Somerville has a large population of Brazilian folks. Where I live in Union Square there is a large Brazilian Market and before the pandemic, a Brazilian butcher. There are still a number of Brazilian businesses peppered around the streets of our city, and this ethnic group makes big contributions to our collective culture. So I was lucky to speak to Rejane Musis about her program to educate kids about Portuguese and Brazilian culture.

How has it been for you living in Somerville? With the large Brazilian population here--it must in some ways feel like home.

I arrived in Boston in 2011, now I live in Everett, but Somerville is a city I love.  I work a lot with Somerville residents. And yes, I feel a little piece of Brazil in some of the streets of Somerville (and I love it!).

You are a practitioner of Praticutuca--an educational tool that uses Brazilian pop culture for learning and cultural identity. Can you give us some more details about the program, and has the Somerville schools been receptive to it?

The Praticutuca is a project that teaches Portuguese heritage through language, music, and literacy. We have existed since 2005 in Brazil, and we found a home in Somerville. The Somerville schools are an awesome partner, sharing our videos and spreading the word about our group classes which are always free and now online.

Tell us about your Portuguese TV show.

We have a YouTube channel with music videos, storytelling and interviews. Everything is produced with kids from Brazilian families and everything is in Portuguese, YouTube.com/praticutuca

Sometime folks mistake Spanish for Portuguese-- there is a big difference between the two languages, right? 

Sure! They are two totally different Romance languages. In my opinion the mistake is proof about how some  people don't  know about Latin America. I never saw that mistake between Portuguese and Italian or French, for example.

Do you think , through this program-- and in this racially charged climate--- you can address racism?

Of course! I just got approved the BIPOC grant by the Somerville Arts Council, and I will produce 10 videos for kids, in Portuguese, talking about racism here and in Brazil, and readings and singing by black authors/composers.

How has your work been affected by the Pandemic?

Deeply affected. We are a family of musicians, and don’t have the possibility of playing gigs and teaching our group classes. This has affected us financially and mentally. I hope now, with the new president, we can turn this page, and I hope soon Brazil will have the same chance to as well.

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