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.