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Philip Reeves

Afro-Brazilian culture is so central to Brazil's port city of Salvador that the city has earned the nickname Roma Negra, or "Black Rome." The nickname resonates with Brazilians who recognize Salvador as a black cultural and intellectual capital — a place where city and culture are as deeply intertwined as Christianity is with Rome.

Afro-Brazilian drummers, snack vendors and visual artists hum through Salvador's streets and plazas. These cultural fixtures are also small businesses — and their challenges are emblematic of those shared nationwide by black Brazilians in business.

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Wander into any bar in Rio de Janeiro at present, and you are sure to meet one of the world's greatest soccer talents.

He or she might be young or old, short or tall, a beer drinker or a fan of the head-spinning cachaça spirit made from sugar cane.

Yet they'll have one thing in common.

He or she will be wearing the bright yellow No. 10 shirt identified with Neymar — the man long seen as the Brazilian national team's finest performer, who's now also its funniest.

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