On Thursday, ESPN ran a photoshopped image above of Michael Vick, with a white face. The title of the story was, “What if Michael Vick were white?” Cultural critic Toure, wrote an article, that went along with the image, on how Vick’s race shaped negative and positive experiences in his life. In the story, Toure writes:
I mean, who would this white Vick be? […] When you alter his race, it’s like those Back to the Future movies where someone goes back in time, inadvertently changes one small thing about his parents’ dating history and then the person starts to disappear. If Vick had been born to white parents, you wouldn’t even be reading this right now. That Vick would have had radically different options in life compared with the Vick who grew up in the projects of Newport News, Va., where many young black men see sports as the only way out.
Meanwhile, Chad Millman (the editor of ESPN ‘The Magazine’), released a statement on Friday. Here are a few excerpts:
Among the many questions asked when discussing his crime and punishment — How could he do such a thing? Should he be allowed to play again? Could he ever play again? — was, would he have been punished as severely if he were white? Rather than use vague arguments that skirt the issue, we chose to address it head on. First, in a thoughtful essay by Toure. In the past, designers have challenged readers to consider their views on race by portraying a black Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II. We had several conversations about how to support the essay with imagery that made people think as much as the words did. Ultimately, the resulting treatment felt like the strongest way to answer the question so many have been asking.
Do you think ESPN’s use of the image was appropriate?