The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent
Futebol superstar Neymar’s name has popped up this blog from time to time over the past few years and for reasons that have nothing to do his unquestionable skills on the field. As this blog highlights mostly black women and issues of race, racism and racial identity, etc., I have only analyzed the star in terms of how the last of the three issues apply to him. Today is no different.
Neymar made headlines a few weeks ago when he debuted his latest attention-catching hairdo, this time of the “press and curl” variety. I’ll state once again that how Neymar decides to wear his ‘fro or who he chooses to date is his business, but as he is a favorite in the Brazilian media, whatever he does is bound to be the topic of chatter, compliments, and criticisms.
My interest in this topic is how Neymar is seen in terms of race and his peculiar manners of addressing or avoiding the topic. For me, looking at the guy’s appearance over the years, particularly those early in his career on the Santos team, he is clearly black or, if you prefer, of African descent.
But I note that when internet users are searching for info on the star, occasionally phrases such as “Neymar race”, “is Neymar white?”, “is Neymar black” or “Neymar ethnicity” popped up in my blog data showing what keywords led readers to the blog. This is fascinating to me. I really didn’t think it was that hard to tell!
But perhaps Neymar wants to keep this part of his classification as confusing as possible. From his saying that he wasn’t black in an early interview, to his bleach blond hair to his personal associations with white women, one of which led to the birth of his very blond son, Davi. Is the straightening and blond coloring of his hair Neymar’s way of perhaps distancing himself from the label of black? Some may argue that it is not.
I mean, didn’t one of the African Diaspora’s greatest symbols of black pride, the Godfather of Soul himself, James Brown, straighten his hair for most of his career? Between the 1950s and 1970s, didn’t many African-American men straighten their hair? And surely no one will question their blackness.
As he is not the darkest crayon in the box, perhaps Neymar knows that it is his hair that is a physical feature that clearly connects him to his African ancestry. Only he knows for sure. Maybe racial classification has nothing to do with it at all and he simply likes expressing himself through his hair. Whatever the case may be, last month fans and readers had a field day with his latest hair statement.
According to various sources, Neymar, announced that he had officially parted ways with his long-time girlfriend, actress Bruna Marquezine (some referring to the couple as ‘Brumar’), and soon after, in a benefit auction for his institute in São Paulo (Instituto Neymar Jr. or Neymar Jr. Institute) (see note one), the futebolista debuted his new look complete with bangs. Soon after, the internet had a field day creating all sorts of memes of Neymar comparing his new “’do” to all sorts of people.
Some people asked why the star was wearing their grandmother’s hairdo. Others compared his new look to long-time actress Neusa Borges and still others said it was a tribute to Pop-Rock-Funk legend Prince, who passed away in 2016. Other joked that, with this new look, they weren’t surprised that Bruna broke up with him.
The singer also drew comparisons to the long-time Brazilian singer, Cauby Peixoto, who also died in 2016. The attention-grabbing hairstyle isn’t the first time the superstar’s hair grabbed attention. In recent years we’ve seen him straighten his hair, go blond, damn near platinum, rock a mohawk, use highlights and even color his beard blond. In a sense, none of this should come as a surprise. After all, afro textured is one of the African racial characteristics that Brazilians reject the most.
So what’s next Neymar? Inquiring minds want to know!
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