The Etymology of Flair

We shine because they hate us, floss 'cause they degrade us. 
We tryna buy back our 40 acres
, and for that paper, look how low we'll stoop
. Even if you in a Benz, you still a ni**a in a coupe”

These are lyrics extracted from Kanye West’s ‘All Falls Down; a song when stripped down for what it is, presents a sentence that speaks on, even if a black person is successful in life, brushing shoulders with the wealthy, buying items that connote affluence, even with all this, at the end of the day to many, they’re still be classed for the colour of their skin.

Racism has yet to yield its poisonous presence from our society, as it migrates from its old ecosystem to another.



1. natural ability to do something well:

2. a situation in which something is done in an exciting and interesting way:

The Premier League began once again over the weekend, and the closing match of that first game week saw Man United dismantle a West Ham team in savoury fashion, 4-0, thanks to the shine emitted from their two most expensive signings in the club's history. It was the flair, the pace and the strength, well mixed together like Grandma’s stew that proved too spicy for West Ham to stomach.

The bigger the spotlight, the more ebullient their shine is and that is exactly how United’s Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku played. Pogba exuded a conveyor belt of flair, lolling his body right and left, bypassing his suitors like a perfectly floated combination emitted from the gloves of an experienced boxer. He found the smallest of crevices in the West Ham defence, which he exploited effortlessly. He was mesmerizing, though, that is what encompasses the Frenchmen. His blonde streak in the side of his head stands out just as much as his erect stature. It was almost cruel watching Mark Noble futilely expend his efforts at trying to dispossess Pogba.

This braggadocios style emitted from these two players is nothing new. Flair, style and temerity have always been apparent in black athletes. It dates so far back that it's etched in their DNAs with a permanent marker, as if to say, “I’m so confident that I’m going to be great, that I am going to write this in permanent ink”.

But where and when did it begin? Where was the first sighting of flair?

Was it when Usain Bolt would start off so poorly in races? Instilling false hope into the minds of his competitors, before snatching it away from them, by not only catching up to them, not only surpassing them but having the panache to jog the last 30 meters of the track - whilst his once hopeful competitors wore a layer of protruding veins on their faces, futilely trying with all their might to close the gap.

Was it when Michael Jordan came up with a premonition of how many points he would score [40] against a Miami Heat team? Proceeding to verbally count down from that total with every shot he made? Steve Smith was the unfortunate defender tasked with the nightmare job of guarding Jordan, enduring his savage bravado. It wasn’t until Jordan got to zero that Smith realised what he was doing. It was flair coalesced with the most blatant disregard of Jordan's competition, but it was a recipe that still produced mouth-watering brilliance. And when he would stick out his tongue, the world knew tacitly that sheer mastery was about to be displayed.

Was it when Odell Beckham Jr. made that ridiculous one-handed catch against the Cowboys? Not to do him an injustice, it was actually two fingers and a thumb that caught that ball; nevertheless, it will go down as one of the greatest catches in NFL history. It wasn’t a fluke either. He practices those catches before every game in warm-ups. But who even has the gull to practice catching with a couple of digits of their fingers? Odell.

The genesis of flair can be traced even further back, but I’m sure you all get the picture by now. Flair has always been ubiquitous amongst black athletes. Which begs the question: Where would sports be without the Black athletes? What would the face of Sports look like if integration in sports never went ahead? Flair is not just showmanship. If you trace the contours of flair with your fingers, you will feel the phenomena of brilliance, and black excellence. Man United's 4-0 triumphant win over West Ham was merely just another reminder of this.

Despite all this, things can still come crumbling down with a gentle blow from the wind. Despite the abundance of flair that Lukaku, and Pogba display, they are still rendered as nothing but physical specimens by the lazy punditry of this sport. So as Kanye West said, “Even if you in a Benz, you still a ni**a in a coupe”.

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