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Nike and the Pigmentation Paradox: African American Representation in Popular Culture from 'Sambo' to 'Air Jordan'

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dc.contributor.advisor Nance, Susan
dc.contributor.author McVittie, Scott
dc.date.accessioned 2016-05-19T13:19:38Z
dc.date.available 2016-05-19T13:19:38Z
dc.date.copyright 2016-05
dc.date.created 2016-05-05
dc.date.issued 2016-05-19
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10214/9717
dc.description.abstract Martin Luther King Jr. once remarked: “The economic highway to power has few entry lanes for Negroes.” This thesis investigates this limited-access highway in the context of American culture by analyzing the merger of sports celebrity branding and racial liberalism through a case study of Nike and the Air Jordan brand. As a spokesman for Nike, Michael Jordan was understood as both a symbol of “racial transcendence” and a figure of “racial displacement.” This dual identity spurred an important sociological debate concerning institutional racism in American society by unveiling the paradoxical narrative that governed discourse about black celebrities and, particularly, black athletes. Making use of archival research from the University of Oregon’s Special Collections Department, this study sheds light on the “Nike perspective” in furnishing an athletic meritocracy within a racially integrated community of consumers. Positioning this study within the field of African American cultural history, this thesis also interrogates representations of black culture and identity in advertising to illuminate the barriers to representational racial equality in the twentieth-century United States. Sports advertising offered up individual black success stories like Air Jordan and invited a mass of disenfranchised African Americans to buy into symbolic sites of transcendence while simultaneously denying the institutional barriers that kept the vast majority of young blacks from ever being, “Like Mike.” The case study of Nike and Air Jordan will further the emerging academic debate concerning racial liberalism in the US by charting its limits within the supposedly “color blind” cultural space of capitalism. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Advertising en_US
dc.subject African American Athletes en_US
dc.subject African American Culture en_US
dc.subject Popular Culture en_US
dc.subject Michael Jordan en_US
dc.subject Nike en_US
dc.subject Consumer Identities en_US
dc.subject Consumerism en_US
dc.subject Racial Liberalism en_US
dc.subject Sports en_US
dc.subject Air Jordan en_US
dc.subject American Race Relations en_US
dc.title Nike and the Pigmentation Paradox: African American Representation in Popular Culture from 'Sambo' to 'Air Jordan' en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US
dc.degree.programme History en_US
dc.degree.name Master of Arts en_US
dc.degree.department Department of History en_US
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