All's Fair in Love and Sport: Black Masculinity and Domestic Violence in the News
This essay examines how tensions between race and gender are negotiated when these two identifications intersect in news stories about black male athletes accused of domestic violence. Specifically, by analyzing news coverage of abusive black athletes from 1990 to 2005, I demonstrate how these accounts employ narratives that pathologize black men as naturally aggressive due to their sporting background and black rage. These rhetorical strategies, I argue, reflect broader social efforts to negotiate a tension between performing sensitivity to both the harms of domestic violence and of perpetuating racism against African Americans. Ultimately, I conclude, by using sport as the venue for talking about domestic violence and black male bodies as the site of criminal rage, gendered violence is allowed to flourish and hegemonic (white) masculinity is both exonerated and (re)secured.