I read the introduction and second chapter of Roger Kittelson’s The Country of Football: Soccer and the Making of Modern Brazil. As I read the introduction, the sense of social balancing came to me. There were two Brazilian cultures in play, Euro-Brazilian (mestico) and Afro-Brazilian (mulatto). Both have a sizable impact on the Brazilian soccer culture, or brasilidade. The problem here is that there is a lot of pressure to perform with success and these two cultures (mestico and mulatto) conflict. I grab this quote from the author in the intro; “It was shocking to hear how openly journalists argued that Brazilian soccer was deteriorating because it had too few Afro-Brazilian players or bemoaned the destruction of empty lots where the poor kids learned to play in pickup games.” This quote, among others, solidified my reasoning on why this was occurring. Brazil’s social culture focuses on what separates its people and the soccer culture (brasilidade) was feeling the effects.
“The qualities associated with blackness were at once the source of great pride and grave doubts.” This quote was referring to feelings towards Afro-Brazilians in the sport of soccer. A question I have refer to racial feelings of Brazilians in other aspects of their society. How common was this found in schools, buses, public places in general? Is soccer something Brazil is so proud of that they have racial borders to protect it? Were Black Brazilians subject to Jim Crow-esque societal laws? As I read the introduction and second chapter, I see connections to how Black soccer players were the stars and icons for the Afro-Brazilian general populace (the povo), minimal on how the povo was treated outside the field.
Further on in Chapter Two, I read something that struck me. “The racialization of the national style caused great unease in the country’s ruling groups.” My first thought that came to mind was how similar this was to what I’ve seen back home. I grew up playing basketball two ways, the “white and proper” way and the “black, streetball” way. These are not my thoughts, I am just observing the social standards set. The thing is though, I never really experienced negative actions like those listed in the reading. Different races had different styles, but all were accepted in each. Kids with money played with each other and same for those without. The question I raise is this, is it really racial borders that are raised or does economic status come more in play?