Amid racist criticism and abuse, Vinicius Jr. and Brazilian stars respond with dances and joy

Vinicius Jr. has been countering pressure and criticism with joy ever since he arrived at Real Madrid as a teen. He has been dancing with the ball at his feet even as

external doubts and internal frustration grew. He has been dancing in celebration, especially as goals and assists have begun to flow. And there is a segment of Spaniards — an

over-serious, old and overwhelmingly white segment — who have been irked by his persistent happiness. Pedro Bravo, a top Spanish soccer agent, all but represented that

segment on a popular TV show this week, and sparked a firestorm that raged into the weekend.  “Vinicius will have to respect the opponents," Bravo said, according to

multiple translations. "If you want to dance, go to the Sambadrome in Brazil. In Spain, you have to respect rivals and stop playing the monkey.” To Vinicius and others, the

undertones were blatant. The "xenophobia and racism," Vini said, were hurtful and nothing new. In a video posted to social media Friday night, Vini's response was eloquent and

stern. But over the next 48 hours, on soccer fields across Europe, he and other Brazilian stars also responded just as Vini promised they would: with joy, and with

dancing. RODRYGO SCORES AN ABSOLUTE BEAUTY AND DANCES WITH VINICIUS 🤩🕺 pic.twitter.com/aekxsvMsZd— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 18, 2022 Vini Jr.: 'Baile donde

quieras' Bravo has apologized "sincerely," and tweeted that his "intention was not to offend anyone." Spaniard after Spaniard pointed out that "hacer el mono," playing the

monkey, is a Spanish idiom roughly synonymous with fooling around. Vini and countless Black men, though, had seen this "plot" play out before.