Monday, August 29, 2011

On Michael Vick and the discourse of race and poverty


Michael Vick might be the householdiest name in the NFL. Which is to say: because of his conviction on dogfighting and cruelty to animals charges four years ago and his subsequent incarceration, any given dinner table discussion of Michael Vick could most likely be reduced to the elemental question of "would Michael Vick be welcomed into this household?" Even two years after his release from prison, Vick remains an extremely polarizing figure in the sports world.

It is probably obvious to most that Michael Vick is black. So, naturally, race plays a role in the way he is perceived, and many have no doubt wondered how things would be different if Michael Vick was white. It's a question that "esteemed cultural critic" and mononymous person, Touré, claims to hate but nevertheless ponders in depth in a recent ESPN The Magazine article. Titled "What if Michael Vick were white?" (against the author's will, apparently) the article is accompanied by a literally absurd and absurdly literal photoshopped image of a white-skinned Michael Vick.


The headline and image have generated a lot of controversy and have been the subject of ridicule since the article's publication. ESPN, for its part, has defended the use of the Chappelleian whiteface version of Vick, stating:
We firmly stand by our representation of the story and the photo-illustration, which has since been re-posted and appreciate and encourage the discussion it has prompted.
But the discussion it has prompted, or, rather, the one it hasn't is precisely the problem.

After the article went live, Touré took to twitter to publicly distance himself from ESPN's choice of a title and art for the piece. "I asked them not to call it What If Vick Were White but they did," he said. "ESPN the mag titled it & added art without me (normal procedure). Judge me on the story not the art," he tweeted later. But Touré should be utterly relieved that ESPN's editors chose such a jarring photo and title to sit atop the piece--they serve to channel discussion away from the content of the article, which as it turns out is deeply problematic.

This is why when he tweeted "My essay on Vick is nowhere near as inflammatory as the pic of him in whiteface which contradicts me saying you can't imagine him as white," he couldn't have been more wrong.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hey everyone! Go help fund some very important research.


Hunter Pence "plays the game the Right Way" and you should too
We interrupt your lack of regularly scheduled programming for a brief message:

If you enjoy reading this blog, then boy have I got something exciting for you!

Our friends over at Dingers Blog are hoping to embark on a serious research project that tracks racist shit in baseball. Here's the gist:
This project was dedicated to taking any instances in which a black, white, latino or asian player was belittled or praised for hustle, or lack thereof, or any other instances that may have a mildly racist connotation.

In previous years, we've kept track in two different ways: the major incidents and the minor incidents. The major incidents are incidents that are without a doubt in clear view--when a manager or teammate calls out a player for anything mildly racist. The minor incidents are any incident in which a sports columnist, blogger, player, manager, coach, farm hand, broadcaster, groundskeeper, anonymous fan or sentient television says something with racist undertones.

However fun this was to do, it was completely unscientific. In the middle of our second year, I was approached by a grad student named Adam who wanted to help in order to make it more scientific. He came up with a full list of data requirements and lit review and now that we have this going for us, we need 30 people to watch 30 broadcasts for a month.
Now, the thing is that they need money in order to pay their researchers to complete this project. So that's where you come in. You can go over to the site liked above and donate as much or as little as you please. Again, if you enjoy reading this site, you should already feel invested in the results of their study, so now go and actually invest in their study! 

Finally, after more than a month of inactivity I am hoping to have some new content up on this site soon. I am deeply sorry for my absence, but other obligations called. But alas, the world keeps turning and people keep saying racist shit.