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CRAMER, Linsay M. and DONOFRIO, Andrew R.

Spring 2021, 51.2, pages: 152-166

Threatening Whiteness: “Angry Russell” and the Rhetoricity of Race


Using racial rhetorical criticism, we apply and extend Flores’s theory of racial recognition to United States news and sports media usages of “Angry Russell” as a name for National Basketball Association (NBA) star Russell Westbrook. Focusing on media coverage of an 11 March 2019 incident in which a Utah Jazz fan allegedly yelled racist and homophobic taunts at Westbrook during an Oklahoma City Thunder game against the Utah Jazz, we map how the mediated attention to Westbrook’s “anger” and so-called threatening behavior is a form of spatiotemporal collapse that situates Black male bodies as menacing and violent sites of subordination to whiteness. We then interrogate how player statuses and the intimacy of NBA arenas themselves, like Vivint Smart Home Arena, operate as sites of spatiotemporal excess by signaling a recognition of race as unable to be contained within the racial categories established by whiteness.


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