Super slaves: Breeding and controlling the modern black American male through sports

Steven William Thrasher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In the United States, sports have provided a historic framework for perpetuating the social construction of black men as a threatening menace to public safety. At the same time, sports have also provided a framework for understanding how to control black men's bodies. This framework shares physical, structural, and financial similarities with the institution of slavery and interacts with a variety of modern American social institutions (including the education and criminal justice systems). Sports provide a way for society to judge the value of young black men, prior to rewarding, controlling, or destroying their lives. This article examines how sports were used to determine the value of three young black men in Missouri, all named Michael (gay football player Michael Sam, HIV felon Michael "Tiger Mandingo" Johnson, and Michael Brown of Ferguson), with dramatic and even mortal consequences for their lives and freedom.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-178
Number of pages11
JournalRadical History Review
Issue number125
StatePublished - May 2016


  • HIV
  • LGBT
  • Race
  • Slavery
  • Sports

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History


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