A Black Brazilian Coach for the Brazilian Soccer team?

In the aftermath of Brazil’s defeat by the Dutch in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in Nelson Mandela Stadium, July 2nd, 2010, the need for reflection on coach Dunga’s tactics, strategies and player selection needs to be extended to include reflection on the continued refusal of the Brazilian Football authorities to recruit and select a coach from among the nation’s community of black Brazilian talent. This moment of defeat and the caustic rumination the Brazilian football playing machine will do in its search for a new World Cup winning formula cannot be allowed to ignore this missing ingredient in the development of the nation’s football. Perhaps!
The whole soccer loving world is watching its response to this defeat to learn how to cope with such a loss.
I admit to playing not-nice with this question at a time when soccer, care of the World Cup, offers its four-yearly serving of mass joy and globalized satisfaction for the great unwashed of the modern world in South Africa in 2010. This is not the time popular mood suggests for such seismologically critical interventions in the cultural diet for the world’s untermenschen-[i.e., German for inferior people].
It is rather a time for the poisons of social conflicts and inequalities to be buried whilst a common humanity is resurrected and practiced with the same ease as life in its absence. A consideration such as this, at such a time, is a most unwelcomed disturbance.
It is best dealt with headed for the waste bin of history, but surely there is no better time for this question to be asked, if not during the World Cup then when for the non-Brazilian fan of Brazilian soccer?
From Brazil’s 1958 victory in Sweden, under the leadership of Vincente Fiola, when Zito, Garrincha and Pele were unleashed upon an unsuspecting post-Second World War era with their beautiful mesmerizing skills, to now, Brazil has never had a black African Brazilian coach, why?
Why, indeed when one considers the legend of legendary black Brazilian soccer playing talent that the nation seemingly possesses in as much abundance as it does rivers, oil, root vegetables and sunshine. They are part of the social fabric of the Brazilian nation and are seemingly born every minute with each generation possessing more skill and talent than the one before.
Why with a roll call as distinguished as Didi, Edu, Garrincha, Jairzinho, and Carlos Alberto, to name a but a few, can the nation that has given birth to such illustrious talents not be able to recruit any from among them for the highest position in its most internationally renowned export. Why?
The current cry around the world is for the hiring of local coaches–see the debate with Africa and its panoply of globalized non-African coaching guns-for-hire–yet Brazil has magically escaped this lash of international public inquiry if not derision? Why?
Perhaps this oversight has something to do with the differences between the definition of “race” in Brazil and that outside of the country.
Perhaps for Brazilians, including African Brazilians, the absence of an African coach is not a problem.
Perhaps what Brazil calls black is different from what Africans and Europeans from its more northerly neighbors would not call such. Perhaps!
Perhaps we–non-Brazilians–have to admit that the Brazilian explanation of race is such that it needs to be respected as unique to the nation and its history and North American considerations on the matter should stop at the door step of Brazilian sovereignty. Perhaps!
Perhaps Brazil will get to the promised land of democratic inclusiveness, accountability and transparency in its social conduct in the realms of popular culture when it raises its standard of living in a globalized world where its economic and technological prowess now matters in many international markets in many product lines from shipbuilding and military technology to oil production and agribusiness. Perhaps!
Perhaps Brazil is learning that when you are a major player on the globalized world stage there are standards of conduct expected of a senior state such as accountability, transparency, and consistency in governmental affairs which may run counter to domestic preferences on some issues—like choice of soccer coach for the national team or the legal rights of homosexuals or assisted suicide. Perhaps!
But, if the reader will allow the plebian egalitarian prejudices of this author be invoked with due respect the intellectual considerations above on the matters of “race” and Brazil and “race in Brazil” the following is issued for soccer lovers to ponder: when are we to see a coach of Brazil’s national soccer team who looks like Pele, the country’s, and the modern game’s most world renowned icon? When?
When Brazil?

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Charles Simon-Aaron
University of Malaya
International Relations and Strategic Studies
Kuala Lumpur
July 2nd, 2010

Haiti: Pioneer of the New

Once again Haiti plays the role of pioneer of the new, first with its anti-slavery revolution of 1804 and, today, as a result of the physical devastation of the January 2010, earthquake. How is it able to so with the latter when so obviously devastated, you ask? Answer: its resistance to inequality.
Haitian Africans resisted the rapacious greed and unrelenting violence of the white French enslavers of the Island for whom they were cheap and expendable labour imported to the island to produce sugar tobacco and coffee, with an uprising of world historical significance, the first successful slave rebellion in human history which led to the proclamation of the independent Haitian state in 1804.
With the revolt, they spoke to their masters in his language of violence. In their victory, they called on their master’s tradition of political institutions to guide them in shaping their new path of Republican government.
The 18th century age of Haitian uprisings was one of mass enslavement of Africans in the Americas and Caribbean by French, English, Danish, Spanish, Portuguese, and American slave owners.
The revolutionaries of Haiti made their nation a supporting location for the American liberator, Simon Bolivar, for whom it served as a base for his revolutionary sojourns across the southern American continent from which the modern nations of South America were born: Colombia; Peru; Venezuela; Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay. Haiti served their birthing. Haitians supported the Americans in their fight for independence from the English and the Greeks in their liberation struggle against Turkish colonialism.
Emancipated Africans existing as a pariah state in the then family of white European nations for whom slavery was economic commonsense, made their victory the source of other nations and peoples emancipation.
Their self-emancipation was a source of inspiration to other enslaved Africans and a threat to slaveholders throughout the region.
Haiti was an international example of the mutual compatibility between Africans and freedom. For Haitians, since the slave labour gave birth to the modern world then emancipated Africans had earned the right to partake in its fruits.
Haiti’s challenge to the Western dominated international order of the day was its political rejection of the economic inequality that so defined the 18th and 19th centuries, be it in the form of plantation labour in the Americas and Caribbean, manufacturing capitalism in Western Europe, or unequal trading practices by the West with the rest of the world.
In the modern era, modern Haiti finds itself, in the midst of the earthquake induced devastation, revealing to the world the consequences of a society falling prey to the perils of unbridled capitalism or, neo-liberalism: ‘the absence of things’: When the cult of profits guides the shaping and reproducing of a modern society human life is more so defined by its absences than its necessary presences for those without cash.
A careful listing of Haiti’s absences reads like a menu of basic necessities of modern life: electricity; computers; roads; water; housing; healthcare facilities; schools; literacy; medicines; trees; fire stations; city government; food; and the list goes on and on and on.
Meaningful modern life has been denied the people of Haiti and the post earthquake response of the world community broadcasts these facts for the world to see, and feel: This is what neo-liberalism means for societies that are forced to live in strict accordance its postulates of profit maximization and cost efficiencies, and are poor, underdeveloped, and, in some cases never developed.
Neo-liberalism, the diet of cheap labour, free markets, minimal government and, in Haiti’s case, total dependency on American capital and external governance, has created a playground for wealth making that makes the Haitian state, government and society redundant appendages to its rule.
That Haiti’s privileged and tiny elite has squandered the nation’s wealth, enriching itself at the expense of the well being of its peoples, the nation’s most precious resource, is in now in full glare for the world to see. The people are poor because of the unrelenting efforts by the nation’s elite- in alliance, the American state, World Bank and IMF-to ensure they remain a cheap labour pool for low cost international commodity production networks: baseballs; baseball bats; T-shirts; textiles; electronics assembly; computer assemblage; trinkets manufacture and the like. This has been a fate the people of Haiti have resisted for generations to the consternation and opposition of the local elites and their international supporters, electing in 1999, and 1994 and 2000, Jean Bertrand Aristide, their nation’s first democratically elected president, whose efforts to make the state meet the basic needs of the nation’s peoples was met with his repeated ouster and exile at the hands of the local army, and local elites, in consort the American CIA.
Haiti was as much opposed to the dominant political trend in world economy at its birth-the inequality of the plantation economy- as it is today-the neo-liberal age and its cult of privatization, profits and free markets. This is a destiny conferred upon its peoples by dint of history and circumstance. That they showed the world in 1804, the need for a new, alternative and humane way for human beings to live in the modern world predisposes them to show the world the new, of which they are abled pioneers. Haiti becomes a pioneer of the new both in terms of what is possible and what is necessary, for the struggles of its peoples have been in the past and in the present unstinting resistance against the physical, psychic and moral ravages of inequality.

921 words
Charles Simon-Aaron
Department of International Relations and Strategic Studies
University of Malaya
Kuala Lumpur

LeBron James, Po’Folks, Winner and Losers in Modern America

LeBron James, Po’Folks, Winner and Losers in Modern America
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Where would you rather play if your name is LeBron James, sunny Miami-(winners) or cold, dull Cleveland (losers)–the mistake by the lake?
Be honest.
I do not know your choice, but I do know mine: Miami.
After 7 years service to the Cleveland Cavaliers I too would leave. It is time for a change. LeBron James did as he had a right to do according to American labor laws and the collective bargaining agreement of the NBA.
What hurts with his leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers are the consequences for the little people of Cleveland, the security guards, bouncers, waitresses and waiters, hotel attendants and cleaners, bus drivers, barbers, parking lot attendants, maintenance and sanitation workers-the city’s little people, its po’folks.
Cleveland is a depressed ex-manufacturing city in the heart of America’s ex-manufacturing heartland. With outsourcing and deindustrialization, home foreclosures, depopulation and a dwindling tax base, it has seen much, much, better times. It is now a city that is a shell of its former prosperous self.
Into this toxic mix of economic destitution and urban hardship LeBron’s money making presence kept the city’s po’folk in a position to make some “get-get” at home games, now that he is gone the money his presence made available has gone with him. The $20 million he forewent to sign with Miami is no blessing to Cleveland’s little people.
For Cleveland’s little people who pinch pennies and miss credit payments to make ends meet, the numbers surrounding the big three of Wade, James and Bosh, are beyond the sky. Those numbers make even less sense in an American economy unbalanced by mass unemployment and the economic extinction of its unskilled work force.
Claims Omar Akkad in his Globe and Mail article, “The world according to LeBron,” (Toronto: Friday July 9th, 2010), LeBron generated $153 million annually for the Cleveland Cavaliers; was expected to be a billionaire in New York had he signed with the Knicks and, have a $3 billion dollar impact in Chicago had he signed with the Chicago Bulls.
When the numbers of his economic impact with the team ($153million) are added to that of his impact upon the city we find that combined he generated about $211 million a year in the Cleveland are. This is serious money in a depressed urban economy. We have not added the extra income earned by those industries supplying the hotels, bars and restaurants.
When we add the income paid to the service workers–mostly po’folks–the economic impact of LeBron’s leaving in terms of income lost, in a depressed economy, comes home full force. Many of these workers look at their jobs as bread and butter jobs because the high paying jobs in manufacturing industry no longer exist. This is serious economics for po’folks.
Who is going to pay top dollar to see a Delonte West?
Oh, and by the way, who is Delonte West? Get the drift.
As tough as times are now for po’ folks in the America, America is many joyful Sundays for its rich. Claims David Degraw in his AlterNet article, “The Richest 1% Have Captured America’s Wealth — What’s It Going to Take to Get It Back?”(http://www.alternet.org/story/145705/): (2008-2009) “the wealth of the 400 richest Americans increased by $30 billion, bringing their total combined wealth to $1.57 trillion, which is more than the combined net worth of 50% of the US population. Just to make this point clear, 400 people have more wealth than 155 million people combined.”

With the traditional manufacturing economy gone forever to China, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, and Brazil, po’ folk have to find other ways to make a living hence the rise of the drug trade, smuggling cigarettes and other contraband–like human cargo– gun running, insurance fraud, selling blood-(and other body organs)- stealing copper wire and cars.
Any job that brings with it steady employment and a steady paycheque is a job worth keeping. These are the adjustments to a changed economic reality that ordinary Americans are engaged in to make cash to survive.
This new economy of low economic opportunities for po’folk is a short term, part-time, casual, temporary, and low waged economy with new victims with every passing day–(losers.) In this economy LeBron is earning $99 million along with his fellow superstars, Wade and Bosh, which reinforces the economy at the high end of the economic food chain–(winners).
The Nielsen Co. estimated 9.95 million people watched the ESPN show “The Decision” where James made known his choice of team. Season ticket prices have skyrocketed in Miami-(winners) as they have been lowered in Cleveland-(losers). The Miami tourist board is wringing its hands in glee whilst the Cleveland tourist board is sipping regrets from its cup of loss.
The American economy is one of winners and losers.
LeBron James now is a winner.
LeBron’s decision is one made in keeping with the golden rule of America: he who has the gold rules. LeBron James is getting his gold and, though he enrages the fan base of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team and the city’s fathers he celebrates the attitude of a new America, one born in a deindustrialized nation where it is no longer how you make money, since there are no occupational guarantees for working people in this economy, but how much money you make. He did not create these rules he is just making the best of the advantages his marketable skills have granted him-within the rules.

Dr. Charles Simon-Aaron
Department of International Relations and Strategic Studies
University of Malaya
Kuala Lumpur