While minority races have achieved equality in North America, there are still underlying racial biases and a new form of racism that takes place. Race relations have not reached an established milieu and the injustices, that the black American community has been through is still present under a new form. Famous black NFL players, are theoretically trapped by the man made legal prisons. Money hungry overlords own the teams, the league, the awards, endorsements and of the most significance they run the media. This has a macro level impact on race relations, and causes more people to be susceptible to misinformation while at the same time continuing to contribute to modern racism. As a business media entities prime initiative is to make money, however their obligation is to uncover the truth and bring it to attention. When they get stories wrong and/or reporting is done in a racist manner it unveils a certain unsettling truth about the media and we are left to wonder, what else has been fabricated or misrepresented.
Definition of Terms
- New Racism: Passive aggressive treatment and coverage of black (African American) athletes facing controversy by the media.
- Ray Rice: Charged with domestic assault after a video of him dragging his unconscious wife out of an elevator went viral.
- Richard Sherman: Ecstatically used expletives when being interviewed live postgame by a female reporter.
- Ferguson Five: 2014 St. Louis Ram players; Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens, and Kenny Britt
- SCT: Symbolic convergence theory is where people share common fantasies and these collections of individuals are transformed into a cohesive group.
- Thug : “a brutal assassin or gangster” (Merriam Webster, 2015)
- WSP: White Supremacist Patriarchy
Literature Review: New Racism Facing Black NFL Players
Football is one of the most common sports chosen by black Americans and many young players dream of playing professional football in the NFL. Sport has been one of the key avenues for the successful segregation of blacks following the United States’ civil right movement and although institutionalized racism has generally declined in the americas, the racism from the past is rooted in the new form of racism present today. While equality is supposed to be present among freedom loving countries, the resulting themes from data analysis point to inequality in the United States. The underlying negative tone and representation towards black NFL players in the media is unjustly non-representative. What is the impact of this relatively new form of passive aggressive racism’s impact on black NFL players facing controversies? The impact of the case studies evaluated in this literature review has a rippling effect; it is up to the current generation to end racial biases in the media to ensure, the future of our children, and that they are not exposed to the same injustices that black NFL players have experienced. While the individual cannot control what the media puts out, the individual can make a conscious effort to take what is said to heart or not. The results found in all of these studies are skewed in favor of the existence of subtle racism against black male athletes and by extension, black NFL players. The media embodied notions that implemented these self serving thoughts in the public’s minds.
These biases in the media are an obstacle to the end of racism and their negative subliminal messages against black NFL players. Facing controversies are detrimental to the progression of egalitarianism.This literature review aims to critically analyze when the media covers black NFL players who are involved in controversy and reveals that the media tends to be more critical of their situation as opposed to a non black NFL player.
New Racism in the media: Coverage of Black Male Athletes (2002-2012)
Cynthia M. Frisby’s study “ Delay of Game: A Content Analysis of Coverage of black Male Athletes by Magazines and News Websites 2002-2012.” sought out to determine if white male athletes are offered both more media attention and more salient coverage than black male athletes. A content analysis was designed and conducted for the study to determine the representation and overall role of black athletes in online news magazines and websites. Data obtained in the analysis show that, currently, coverage of athletes is not equal quantitatively or qualitatively. Disproportionate coverage involving black male athletes was found in news stories that involved instances of crime, domestic/sexual violence, moral failure, and/or the athlete’s “natural” skills and abilities. Frisby’s findings show significant relation to my research question. “One would not know of the positive contributions of black professional athletes made by reading online magazine and new sources, watching networks, listening to the radio or reading the sports pages. The amount and type of coverage provided to male athletes continue to yield stereotypic profiles of black athletes.” (Frisby, C. M., 2016). This forces the public’s hand who must educate themselves through non traditional media sources to find a source free of a hidden agenda.
Most black NFL players do not want to touch the racial issues in sports because of how delicate of a situation it is. The media however returns the favour by providing a seemingly unrepresentative overlook of black NFL players continuously positive contributions to society. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been donated by these athletes to their hometowns and communities. Every dollar counts, without these donations many lives would remain untouched and uninspired. The scope of and magnitude of having data representative of the black male athletes for 10 years by american media serves as an established precedence of racism in the media in representation of black male athletes (including NFL players).
New Racism in the media: The Cases of Ray Rice & Richard Sherman
M. Candace Christensen, Emmett Gill, and Alfred Pérez’s case study “Ray Rice Domestic Violence Case: Constructing Black Masculinity ThroughNewspaper Reports.” used concepts associated with black masculinity to critically analyze newspaper depictions of the Ray Rice Domestic Violence Case (RRDVC) by establishing persistent pattern of public discourse that situates black male athletes accused of committing crimes within a series of controlling images depicted by the media that serve to maintain White supremacist patriarchal understandings of black masculinity. 254 individual reports related to the RRDVC were used in this study. The results of the analysis reveal how hegemonic depictions of Ray Rice serve the White supremacist patriarchy (WSP) in maintaining the containment and commodification of black men. “The WSP has benefited from the existing public discourse about the RRDVC because this discourse has situated the NFL as the true victim of the violence and has paved the way for the NFL to exact further control and containment of black men, so that the WSP can continue to use black men for financial and political gain.” (Christensen, M. et al., 2016). This case is a well documented example of the new racism that takes place in the media. The passive aggressive nature of the media’s treatment of Ray Rice during the scandal perpetuated cynical views of the media by black athletes in the NFL in this particular case
Janis Teruggi Page, Margaret Duffy, Cynthia Frisby & Gregory Perreault work “Richard Sherman Speaks and Almost Breaks the Internet: Race, Media, and Football.” examined traditional and social media coverage of the Sherman interview appearing from the date of the incident and the week following. Several prominent databases were used to locate stories from some of the largest and most reputable media sources in North America. The authors examined news and citizen coverage of the Sherman interview during the week following the incident through the lens of symbolic convergence theory (SCT).The findings reveal a righteous master analogue wherein judgment is passed, and Richard Sherman as a black man stepped outside the lines of “correct” behaviour. Although the news coverage has elements of the social master analogue, it also has a righteous orientation. Both master analogues (of traditional media and social media) present in this study were infused with racist and sexist elements and served to naturalize patriarchy and the subordination of women and African Americans. Young men’s aspirations to play professional sports are shaped largely by television and increasingly through shared media. Thus, it is important for sports reporters and journalists to highlight other aspects of black male athletes beyond aggression and athletic prowess. (Duffy, M. et al., 2016). The racism black NFL players are subjected to is directly correlated to the media, an entity which shapes the hopes and dreams of young black athletes hoping to play professional. Some of those same young black aspiring athletes who witnessed racism being dealt to famous black professional athletes via media will unfortunately be subjected to the same type of racism. The article educates the reader by exposing the vicious cycle of racism being faced by black professional athletes and therefore black NFL players.
New Racism in the media: The Public’s Role and Impressionability
Jimmy Sanderson, Evan Frederick & Mike Stocz’s journal “ When Athlete Activism Clashes With Group Values: Social Identity Threat Management via Social Media.” purpose is to provide a thematic analysis of 1,019 user-generated Facebook comments and 452 tweets of reactions to when the Rams players performed the hands-up gesture conducted through the lens of social identity threat management. “The day of the gesture (November 30), a group was founded on Facebook entitled Boycott the St. Louis Rams. Within a week of its creation, the group had nearly 25,000 likes, hundreds of posts, and thousands of comments, all of which stemmed from athletes engaging in advocacy about social justice.” (Sanderson, E. et al., 2016). Some group members perceived this action to constitute an attack on group values that fell along two strands: (a) that sporting events (in this case, a football game) are inappropriate venues for activism and (b) that law enforcement is an authoritarian entity that is to not to be questioned. The results suggest that social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter serve as forums where group members discuss and debate challenges to group values, and promote action steps that can mitigate social identity threats. The social identity of black NFL players came into question with the backlash of the Ferguson five’s display, fortunately mitigation against inherent racism after this controversy was available through expressive measures online via forums and social media. This denotes hope for combating the racism experienced by black NFL players via previously non existent mediums of communication.
Gill’s entry ““ Hands up, don’t shoot” or shut up and play ball? Fan-generated media views of the Ferguson Five.” into the journal of human behaviour in the social environment is a case study focusing on how black professional athletes responded to police-involved deaths of black men, using when the Rams “Ferguson Five” players performed the hands-up gesture as the lead example. Gill used a grounded theory approach to examine the immediate and intermediate prospect of civic involvement of professional athletes in social issues through a qualitative content analysis of mainstream media accounts and user-generated content. “Even so, a set of issues has emerged, such as police brutality, that not only impact black communities, but black professional athletes as well. Not only are athletes hesitant to engage in activism, but sports franchises have adopted a corporate mentality and do not want to get drawn into politicized issues. Many hot button social issues cut across athlete and fan racial lines. In the case of the NFL fan base, 92% of fans attending NFL games are White (Domowitch, 1989) and 68% of NFL football employees are black (Tapp, 2014). “(Gill Jr. E., 2016). NFL players are masters at dealing with the media, they realize what they say can be changed around or misconstrued so they carefully prepare and edit their thoughts. As this happens, the very freedom of speech that free nations have worked so hard to achieve over the course of history becomes redundant and the spirit that embodied the pioneers for black equality becomes lost. Gill’s findings showed that fan-generated media employed a new racist and color-blind technique referred to as race talk to characterize the Ferguson Five. Race talk embraces the language of class and geography as a way to signify race without explicitly saying it. In particular fan-generated media content included the frequent use of the word “thug.”. None of the Ferguson Five have been arrested for felonies such as murder or some form of organized crime, which are crimes consistent with the term thug. Gill’s findings further engage the impact that media has on shaping the perceptions of the public.
An issue is definitely present; there is a link between unfair racial biases and the representation of African American athletes in the media. With further investigation it would be possible to figure out to what extent the media has implanted these thoughts into the general public. However this problem can be easily overturned. There is great power in factual knowledge, and we should all aspire to become educated and be an individual.
This would lift the plague that has been cast on the African American population and the athletes who dedicate themselves to entertaining us the people, the plague will also be lifted from the ignorant, who would awaken from their closed minded slumber and humanity would make a momentous stride to perfection.
After examining the views of the authors of the works being reviewed, it is apparent there is subtle racism facing black NFL players facing controversies. The authors connected to the reviewed literature share many of the same views and shared similar statistical results and had common themes emerge about the subject at hand. The authors of the all the literature being reviewed also expressed their distaste with the media, and most implied the media as being inaccurate at times and filled with subtle racism. Finally they all examined the social aspect realizing that people get the majority of their knowledge of current subjects from the media and their judgments are sometimes based on biased sources.
Further implications for future literature include the taboo nature of racial discussions. black NFL players (also black athletes) will unfortunately be further subjected to these subtle racism presented in the media and as racial tensions in the united states continue to be tense, there should be a rise in black NFL player in game activism due to this and hopefully their efforts will translate into solidarity in their treatment by the media. The research question of how the subtle racisms in the media against black NFL players will be furthered by extensive analysis of other Black NFL players in game protests and other controversies moving forward. Hopefully with the new wave of literature pointing to racism in the media’s treatment of NFL players and black athletes the results from statistical analysis will show a decrease in racist tendencies against this group of professional athletes.
- Emmett L. Gill Jr. (2016) “Hands up, don’t shoot” or shut up and play ball? Fan-generated media views of the Ferguson Five, Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 26:3-4, 400-412, DOI: 10.1080/10911359.2016.1139990 http://www.tandfonline.com.proxy.hil.unb.ca/doi/pdf/10.1080/10911359.2016.1139990? needAccess=true
- Frisby, C. M. (2016). Delay of Game: A Content Analysis of Coverage of Black Male Athletes by Magazines and News Websites 2002-2012. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Cynthia_Frisby/publication/310215831_Delay_of_ Game-_A_Content_Analysis_of_Coverage_of_Black_Male_Athletes_by_Magazines_a nd_News_Websites_2002-2012/links/582a358608ae004f74ae3eea.pdf
- Sanderson, Evan Frederick & Mike Stocz (2016) When Athlete Activism Clashes With Group Values: Social Identity Threat Management via Social Media, Mass Communication and Society, 19:3, 301-322, DOI: 10.1080/15205436.2015.1128549: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15205436.2015.1128549
- M. Candace Christensen, Emmett Gill, & Alfred Pérez (2016) “The
Ray Rice Domestic Violence Case: Constructing Black Masculinity Through Newspaper Reports. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Vol. 40(5) 363–386, DOI: 10.1177/0193723516655576 http://journals.sagepub.com.proxy.hil.unb.ca/doi/pdf/10.1177/0193723516655576
- Janis Teruggi Page, Margaret Duffy, Cynthia Frisby & Gregory Perreault (2016): Richard Sherman Speaks and Almost Breaks the Internet: Race, Media, and Football, Howard Journal of Communications, DOI: 10.1080/10646175.2016.1176969 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10646175.2016.1176969
- Thug. 2015. In Merriam-Webster.com. Retrieved Dec 15, 2016, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/thug