Dr. Abraham I. Khan: "After Persuasion: Reframing the Revival of Black Athlete Activism"
Time & Location
About the Event
Join us on December 2 from 4-5:30pm CST for an engaging talk from Dr. Abraham I. Khan, assistant professor of Rhetoric at Penn State University
After Persuasion: Reframing the Revival of Black Athlete Activism
Since 2012, when the NBA’s Miami Heat posed for a photograph wearing team hoodies to call attention to the murder of Trayvon Martin, a sophisticated narrative has emerged in sports media around the resurgence of Black athlete activism. Colin Kaepernick’s choice to kneel before National Football League games in 2016 offered the most spectacular example in 2016, giving life to a story that anchored the rediscovery of Black athletes’ political agency in terms that emphasize the power of persuasive speech. As a sports media genre, the renaissance of the activist athlete depends for its force on simplistic memories of the 1960s when, presumably, effective moral suasion determined civil rights progress. In this lecture, I argue that the investment in persuasion is a mistake. In a (post-)Trump era defined by intense political polarization and the dominance of corporate communications, Black athlete activism either speaks to a void or works for capital. The answer to this dilemma requires reckoning with the death of persuasion and identifying Black athletes’ collective labor power.
About Dr. Abraham I. Khan
Dr. Abraham I. Khan is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of African American Studies and Communication Arts & Sciences at Penn State University. His work exists at the intersection of sports media, race politics, and theories of public engagement. Abe’s broad interest in public narratives surrounding Black athletes has taken shape in scholarly essays on individuals like Jackie Robinson, Michael Sam, and Richard Sherman, in addition to a book on baseball player Curt Flood and Black political culture. His current interests center on the “renaissance of the activist athlete.” Abe loves the Chicago Bears, but thinks college sports should be abolished.