Trash Talk: Coded Racial Narratives in Sports.
Mena Jr., Jose A.
- African American professional athletes live in a world in which their activities and behaviors are constantly monitored and reported by sportswriters. A unique dynamic is created when a population of African American athletes is described, represented, and judged by a body of American sportswriters that is over ninety percent white. The language that is often used to describe those athletes is ... read moreoften riddled with coded racial narrative that suggests that Blacks are inferior. Often times, African athletes who commit crimes or engage in troublesome behavior are looked at as unruly children who are products of damaged, unstable, environments. This sort of rhetoric ties in with the stereotyping of people, families, and communities of color. It is important to point and critique sports media for portraying negative stereotypes because of how misinformed, damaging, and destructive these portrayals are. By analyzing the cases of Barry Bonds, Tiger Woods, and Dez Bryant I illustrate how sportswriters can use sports to produce covertly racist material. In this thesis I discuss how sports media as an institution of power promotes social inequality. In each of the cases I use a critical race theory base to demonstrate how coded racial narrative found in news articles, sports blogs, and books allows for racialized commentary. I find that the portrayal of African American athletes by sportswriters damages not only the reputation of those athletes but also perpetuates stereotypes of African Americans, does tangible damage to the careers of the affected athletes, creates an environment where covert racism is acceptable, and serves as another form of institutional racism.read less