All Black Brazilians are Neymar
Note from BBT: All Black Brazilians are Neymar: So we have recently learned that there will be no fines or suspensions in the case involving Brazilian futebol star Neymar. For those not familiar with the case, in a match between Neymar’s Paris Saint-Germain, and Olympique de Marselha, the Brazilian star accused an opposing player, Álvaro González, of using a racial slur against him. In a match that included a huge brawl, pushing, shoving and kicking, several players were ejected from the field, including Neymar, who pleaded his case as he left the field.
Apparently after having viewed video of the meleé that took place on the field, officials found no evidence sufficient to enough to conclude that González had insulted Neymar with a racially offensive term. Whatever the case may be, regardless of whether his opponent used a racially offensive term against him or not, followers of Neymar or just those familiar with the player, pointed out the irony of a man who once said he wasn’t black making such an accusation. Perhaps we should label the incident of an example of racism without racial identity.
After all, terms such as ‘ape’, ‘gorilla’, ‘monkey’,etc. are ones that historically have been used to dehumanize and offend people of African descent. Thus, if Neymar continues to not see himself as black, why would take offense to the term? Indeed, if Neymar sees himself as white and his opponent also as white, wouldn’t that just be two white people going at it? I mean, I’ve seen countless cartoons and sitcoms in my time where white people have used the term monkey against other white people and there was no animosity.(All Black Brazilians are Neymar)
Obviously, that is because white people haven’t been racially dehumanized and considered less than human as black people have. As such, one has to wonder what this says about Neymar. It’s obvious that he knows that the term ‘monkey’ is a racially offensive term and I woiuld say it is also obvious that, having played in Brazil and Europe, he must be aware that countless black players have been insulted with this word.
All Black Brazilians are Neymar: Through all of the racist incidents that have happened just since Neymar became a star, he has never really taken a stand on the issue with his silence frustrating many black Brazilians who label him as a new version of “The King”, Pelé, not just because of his athletic skill, but because of his refusal to speak on racial issues.
But Neymar isn’t alone in terms of not seeing himself as black. In fact, one could argue that Brazil is breeding ground for the creation of large number of people of visible African ancestry who don’t see themselves as such. Which is why a number of people empathize with the star and have shared their own journies into racial consciousness, encouraging Neymar to follow suit.
Below, Bruno de Castro shares his story.
To some extent, All Black Brazilians are Neymar
By Bruno de Castro
And at age 28, Neymar Jr., the boy Neymar, discovered racism. He was called a monkey by the defender Álvaro González, of Olympique de Marseille, in a game of the French championship last Sunday (9/13), and, indignant at having been expelled from the game after fighting back the provocations, he vented on social networks.
It is useless for Neymar to have 639 games, 405 goals, 229 assists, 53 individual awards, 7 collective awards, 23 official titles, 22 unofficial titles and so many other achievements. It was only because of the color of their skin that they tried to define him (and later denied it, as usual). If this happens to one of the most important players in the history of futebol (soccer/football), imagine the lady Mariazinha from the favela who crosses the city every day to clean up at the house of her white boss! Imagine the little black boy and slum boy who dreams of being like the idol.
It was Neymar exposing the situation who was scorned. Thousands reacting to his historical silence to anti-racist causes. But we need to be honest in this debate: to some extent, we are all a little bit like this 28-year-old. We are all a little Neymar. For one simple reason: none of us was born knowing everything about blackness. Nor are we, blacks, born knowing that we are black. Some are/were introduced early on to the idiotic face of the racist world; others, later. And many – thousands, millions – will go through life without being able to identify a racist manifestation, such practice has already been incorporated into life.
I, for example, discovered that I was black only at the age of 32. Yes, it took me more than three decades to look in the mirror and being aware of being in front of a black man. Not moreno, as I always defined myself and was defined. But black. Preferably preto (black). Black and journalist. Until that happened, I was silent regarding many things. And, forgive me for being frank, I’m not ashamed of that.
I am not ashamed to know that I am, as we all are, including the blackest blacks, in an endless process of deconstruction. My time here will end and I will not have understood all of the immensity of being a dark-skinned individual. All the time life presents us with aspects of blackness and racism that we need to mold ourselves to. For accommodation or for confrontation. Given that, I know what? Nothing! I live the experience, I listen, I read to be introduced to other perspectives on the subject, I ask for help from more experienced and intelligent friends, and I grow from it all.
It has been like that for two years after my self-discovery. Unlike Neymar, I didn’t see myself black in a racist episode. I was fortunate to realize who I really am in the creation process of Ceará Criolo (website), in October 2018, alongside four communicators whose initial desire was just to deliver a project to complete an extension course to guarantee a certificate. The site remained, I matured, the site grew, I grew with it, new spaces were occupied, I followed the flow, other people became part of the collective, I grew with them and today, more than 700 days later, I’m a totally different Bruno than I was at the beginning of this journey.
My friend Preto Zezé used to say that people don’t always handle the blow when they understand the cruel way in which racism indoctrinates the world. I handled it because, as he also wisely told me, I have a solid support network. Family and friends were instrumental in this process, which requires a Herculean effort from us not to go crazy. It is a ruthless steamroller, racism.
I look back nowadays and I thank my “naivete” in the face of certain situations. The professional and effective (situations) are the most painful. Dealing with the certainty that the color of your skin has been a primary factor in losing a job, being the victim of a certain attack or even diverting love is heartbreaking. And we are made more of the nos than the yeses we receive. Was I aware of my blackness in these episodes, who knows what bitterness this text would have?
With that, I don’t romanticize these wounds. I don’t reinforce the thesis of “whoever suffered the most deserves to be more recognized”. I think this is dangerous logic. I only attest to the existence of these wounds – with or without my consent, because the racism of the other person doesn’t depend on my desire – and I say that now, aware of myself, of who I am, of the material from which I am made of inside and out, I can’t go back.
I found out late. Ignorance made me survive many things, so I say that I understand Neymar. We can take a long time. Or, sometimes, it postpones this moment on purpose for (pre) feeling that it will be decisive for our life in the same way that it was for many people we know. Today’s Bruno doesn’t even dare to think about the possibility of unraveling the world in the way he has been looking at it since October 2018. Because it is impossible. We condition ourselves, even unwittingly, to realize how white a certain environment is. And I don’t mean the walls.
Each has a very particular time to flourish to/in blackness. And that doesn’t depend on fortune, fame or talent. It’s like a slap. Like waking up after a night’s sleep. For some, this night’s sleep is long. For others, it’s short – a nap. And neither is right or wrong. Each, I repeat, has their time. The right time to mature. What you do from the moment you wake up is what sets us apart. Silence is not, it cannot be the only option.
Aware of my blackness, I, Bruno, feel obliged to position myself publicly as an anti-racist person. First, obviously, for believing that. For feeling up close in the skin (in the most literal sense of all) the weight of racial prejudice. But I also practice anti-racism as a way of honoring the millions of black people who fought and died so that I have the right to have rights today. I feel a moral duty to do the same for those who come after me have even more rights. And rights to have rights.
I had the chance to attend higher education and I am now an employed subject with a formal work contract because black men and black women back then, centuries ago, claimed the end of the constitutional ban on people of color attending school environments. Yes, this happened. Like so many other crimes against my people financed by the Brazilian State. I can only prosecute someone who directs me to a racist attack thanks to the struggle of social movements for the criminalization of racism. It’s not fair, therefore, to remain silent. It’s necessary to fight for these rights to be extended.
I sincerely hope that Neymar has another public position in the face of the existence of racism that he has only just discovered. The sports world, notably futebol, is macho, sexist, homophobic and anti-black. It is, I believe, the space that most demands deconstruction within the universe of entertainment. To have an athlete of this boy’s carat in the front line of our fight would be to raise the demands to another level. And it doesn’t matter if Neymar was/is spoiled or not, as I saw many allege. It doesn’t matter, at this moment, for this specific episode, the player’s political convictions (which, yes, are beyond controversial).
It is perfectly possible to be against what he defends and yet be in solidarity with him. A necessary paradox, I would say. Because to lessen someone’s pain, whoever it is, especially the pain resulting from a racist episode, is to dehumanize that someone. It is to diminish the cause, so collective and so fundamental. And in racist attacks, the victim is NEVER blamed, no matter who they are or what they represent. Furthermore, racism is not a game. Racism is not “of the game”. Racism is a crime. And it needs to be treated like that.
All Black Brazilians are Neymar: Millions of black favela boys see themselves in Neymar. In other black players too, of course. That is why it is so necessary that the best of them understand the place they occupy and embrace it in our favor. Even if only in his own favor, demanding a punishment for Álvaro González. By doing this, one would already be rendering an immense service to the collective awareness that to inferiorize the other due to the color of the skin is, besides being illegal, a low attitude of feeling superior.
In the same way that a racist act speaks much more about the character of the person who practices it than about the life of the person being attacked, the way the victim reacts also speaks much more about his true disposition to change paradigms than about the lethargy of those who have no interest in this deconstruction. Therefore, Neymar, get down to business!
Welcome to the team of black people aware of their own blackness and practicing anti-racists. All that remains now is for you to discover that you support a racist, homophobic, sexist president with so many other nameless characteristics. From here, we ask you not to suffer from Stockholm Syndrome.
But that is another matter!
Source: Ceará Criolo