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Sociol Inq. 2011;81(3):333-52.

Racetalk and sport: the color consciousness of contemporary discourse on basketball.

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  • 1University of North Carolina-Wilmington.


This article explores how a sample of college students discursively negotiated perceptions of race and ability in the context of mediated sport. A majority of respondents expressed acceptance of a link between racial identity and sport-specific skills. However, rather than articulate this notion overtly and directly, rhetorical strategies, such as disclaimers and coded language, were used. We analyze these responses as a form of “racetalk” (Bonilla-Silva and Forman 2000) to more specifically unpack the significance of discourse within the post-Civil Rights Movement era. Although the language used to discuss race in this sample, like the contemporary era more generally, appears colorblind and progressive on the surface, it is undergirded by a distinct form of color consciousness.

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