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Neymar and the Disappearing Donkey
June 17, 2014 8:54 AM   Subscribe

In 1976, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics ran a household survey that marked a crucial departure from other census exercises. The Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios (PNAD) did not ask Brazilians to choose a race category among pre-determined choices; instead, researchers went out and asked people to describe the colour they thought they were.
posted by brokkr (16 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Marinheira Sailor-woman

not done reading yet, but this self-described color is The Best.

i also read it too fast at first and thought it said Sailor Moon.
posted by sio42 at 9:23 AM on June 17


That article is fascinating and worth it for the Crayola box-worth of vocabulary for human colors.
posted by chavenet at 9:37 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Related: http://blackwomenofbrazil.co/2013/02/21/neymars-blond-ambition-and-the-question-of-racism-identity-and-marketability-of-black-public-figures/


For example, more than a month ago, a woman from São Paulo initiated an online petition campaign to encourage the “black blond” bomber to start wearing his hair in its natural state again. Her reasoning? Her black son wanted to emulate Neymar (4). Here’s what she posted:

Neymar:Accept your curly/kinky hair

Rafaella Nepomuceno, São Paulo, Brazil

Neymar, leave your hair natural please! My son is a handsome black boy with curly/kinky hair and told me that he wanted hair like yours, including straight, I responded:

- Neymar’s hair is curled like yours my son

- How does he make it straight, mom?

- Chapinha (flat straightening iron)

- Then I want chapinha mom…

- What?

- Mom, so is Neymar preto (black)?

- Ah, still quite (black)!

Now (can you) imagine a child with self-esteem problems because of not having straight hair? Neymar as an idol and example for so many children like my son could be more sensitive (about this issue) and accept his hair as it is.



I read the above and cried.
posted by pzad at 9:46 AM on June 17


This is really great, thanks. I didn't quite buy the way the writer framed this partial self-exemption — 

Race is not a term that has much currency in India, where I live. It is, however, a central feature of Johannesburg and São Paulo, the two cities I occasionally work in, and as much as I’m aware of how privileged I am not to be wholly subject to it, I feel curiously bereft of race in both places.

— but I get, and greatly appreciate, the broader point, which is to push beyond the Victorian mystifications that are still imposed by talking in the European/American language of race (what Karen and Barbara Fields so nicely call "racecraft") and open up a broader field of diversity both of experience and of identity.
posted by RogerB at 10:41 AM on June 17


And in Brazil, Neymar is not black.

Um, what? I learned a lot from this article, but I'm still not able to parse what the author is saying here.
posted by kitcat at 11:38 AM on June 17


Wow, I mean, I have multiracial friends and I'm not a total rube so I wasn't like shocked!!!, but it was truly fascinating for me to see how different Neymar's race presentation has been over the years. The word "racefucking" kind of comes to mind because it totally troubles race the way many people's genderfucking troubles gender. I think this photo series would blow the mind of a lot of people who haven't thought about race before with a lot of sophistication.
posted by threeants at 11:40 AM on June 17


(And it's totally sucky that just by being multiracial or multiracial-seeming, your changes in style aren't always just personal changes but can be transgressive, but I didn't make it up and as with gender unfortunately that perception is a Thing.)
posted by threeants at 11:43 AM on June 17


kitcat: "And in Brazil, Neymar is not black.

Um, what? I learned a lot from this article, but I'm still not able to parse what the author is saying here.
"
I have no first hand experience with Brazil, but this is what I think he's saying: in Brazil, Neymar is moreno, while e.g. his national team colleague Ramires is negro.
posted by brokkr at 11:53 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]


I just sent a Brazilian friend of mine this article. We've had many long conversations about race in Brazil before, with him emphasizing the mixed nature of the Brazilian population, but also how the black people of Brazil are definitely an underclass. I have also found it interesting to contrast this with the situation in my homeland of India (as this author also did), where there are no races to speak of, but where skin color is an extremely salient variable and a huge indicator of social class.

After I sent my friend this article, he responded by saying that the article really captured the Brazilian mindset, even his own mindset. He recollected a time when the two of us (white-presenting Brazilian man and fairly dark-skinned Indian woman) at a restaurant in DC. He says he remembers thinking, "wow, peacheater and I are the only white people here." He says that for him the notion of race and class are so intertwined that his automatic responses conflate the two to the extent that those he considers his peers (like me) get put into the "white" category, for some value of white. (And for the record, he fully realizes that this is messed up; he's just talking about his internal programming here.)
posted by peacheater at 12:12 PM on June 17 [7 favorites]


what accounts for his pretty radical change in appearance other than straightening his hair? he looks almost like a different person.
posted by ChuckRamone at 1:05 PM on June 17


interesting - I was pretty baffled back during the Alves banana incident when I saw someone claiming that the incident must have been faked because nobody considered Alves or Neymar black so wouldn't be racist towards them, but this explains where he might have been coming from.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:31 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


Huh, this is going to make useful data analysis of the results one hell of a pain in the ass. I wonder if it wouldn't just be easier to collect DNA samples and pull the racial mixup out of that?
posted by Canageek at 1:53 PM on June 17


ChuckRamone: "what accounts for his pretty radical change in appearance other than straightening his hair?"
Puberty, I guess. :)

(He's 21, 19 and 17 in the top three pictures.)
posted by brokkr at 1:59 PM on June 17 [1 favorite]


peacheater: "the situation in my homeland of India (as this author also did), where there are no races to speak of"

I am also from India and we have a lot of races and a lot of racial discrimination ... but our racial prejudices are completely subsumed by and incorporated in our castist prejudices .. race is a minor discrimination amongst the many ways Indians can discriminate.

its a version of the HHGTG sentence .. "their fundamental design flaws are completely hidden by their superficial design flaws"

But, to be fair, India is neither unique nor exceptional in its ability to discriminate among people ... skin color is one of the easiest and fast way for people to discriminate ... India, as an older society, has just moved on to more complex forms of discrimination.

/sorry if its derail ... I think my larger point here is that racial discrimination is a component of any complex society and there are no innocent civilizations.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 9:58 PM on June 17


Canageek: "Huh, this is going to make useful data analysis of the results one hell of a pain in the ass. I wonder if it wouldn't just be easier to collect DNA samples and pull the racial mixup out of that?"

The survey didn't ask for race. They asked for color.

Ethnic mix does not predict color consistently, even between siblings of the same parents. Race, of course, is not even a biological concept.
posted by desuetude at 10:43 PM on June 17 [2 favorites]


The 1976 survey is still taught in anthro classes (or at least was when I was taking them) as an example of the fluidity of race as a social concept. The US has had for most of it's existence a binary system of "pure white" vs. "one-drop black" that doesn't translate well into a lot of societies populated by Vasconcelos' "Cosmic Race" with its innumerable gradations, exceptions, and situational appraisals. I've know several people who would be undeniably slotted as "Black" in the US travel and live in Brazil only to be told that their hair was too straight or their skin too light to be a negro/a; they were morenos/as. On one memorable occasion, a friend was flat out told she was "too rich" to be Black, which speaks to the tangle of class and color in determining race in Brazil.
posted by Panjandrum at 7:35 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


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