Disappearing Donkey, or the confusing issue of race in Brazil

Africa is a Country recently posted a great discussion about race in Brazil.  They begin by examining the case of soccer superstar Neymar, who once said that he never faced any racism in Brazil because he’s not black.  As you can see from the photos in the post, Neymar has become increasingly white over the years.  Africa is a Country makes some good points though when they write:

“It’s too easy to condemn Neymar for pretending to be white: judging by the images, he is partly white. Technically speaking, however, his logic was faultless – and even kind of interestingly honest: the Neymar who made that statement was an unworldly eighteen-year-old who had never lived outside Brazil. And in Brazil, Neymar is not black.”

In 1976, the Brazilian government decided not to ask people to check a particular race box on the census but to instead describe in their own words what their race was.  The incredible range (and amazing creativity) of the answers is amazing.  Here are some of my favorites:

Agalegada:  Somewhat like a Galician

Alva escura:   Dark snowy white  (seems like a contradiction)

Branca-morena:  White but dark-skinned (ditto)

Burro-quando-foge:  Disappearing donkey (i.e. a nondescript color) humorous

Cabocla:  Copper-coloured (refers to civilized Indians)

Cor-firme:  Steady-coloured  (steady??)

Marinheira:  Sailor-woman  (this is a race?)

Pálida: Pale (hey I found my category!)

Russo: Russian  (again, this is a race?)

Sapecada:  Singed  (head scratcher)

Turva: Murky (another head scratcher)

Verde:  Green (a joke on the census workers?)

Definitely check out the full post though, because it includes some interesting thoughts on the intricacies of race in Brazil.