Red Clay Scholar: Swagger Jacker: Musings on the White Michael Vick


Swagger Jacker: Musings on the White Michael Vick

I can’t lie. The first thing I did when I saw a whiteface Michael Vick was laugh.

It is a (very) off color (pun intended) attempt to open up conversations about race and sports. C’mon, America. We wanna talk about race? Of course not! That’s so 2008.


I’ve tackled the idea of whiteface in a previous post that contextualized it as a 20th century African American rebuttal to the minstrelsy tradition situated in 19th century white supremacist discourse. But ESPN: the Magazine (and much of writer Toure’s article that it supposedly complemented) got us messed up. Aside from the pathological and straight up dumbfounding ways that both Toure and the picture essentialize black masculinity there was some serious swagger jacking involved. ESPN: the Magazine ain’t the first one to use whiteface. George Schuyler would be pissed.

For the literary aloof, George Schuyler was a master satirist and conservative kicking folks’ racial politics in the throat during the Harlem Renaissance or lack thereof. Schuyler is perhaps most recognized for his essay “The Negro Art Hokum” which dismisses the idea of black American art as essentialist and nonexistent. But it is Schuyler’s satiric novel Black No More, released in 1931, that situates him as a predecessor of progressive racial thought, weaving a delightfully absurd narrative that promotes a similarly absurd solution to America’s race problem. Make everyone white.

Continue reading at Red Clay Scholar: Swagger Jacker: Musings on the White Michael Vick.

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