"We be killin' them": hierarchies of black masculinity in urban basketball spaces



Publication Details

Atencio, M. & Wright, J. E. (2008). "We be killin' them": hierarchies of black masculinity in urban basketball spaces. Sociology of Sport Journal, 25 (2), 263-280.


This article examines a local park basketball culture and shows how discursive practices constituted masculine hierarchies and proliferated black masculinities. Through pickup basketball, several young black men took up various positions of power and were able to determine access to neighborhood parks and dictate the codes of behavior. Drawing on poststructural and social geography theories, we argue that male power became authorized through the community's privileging of basketball and led to the hierarchical distribution of black masculinities within park spaces. The young black men psychically and materially invested in black masculinities, which were aligned with the logics of "heroic" and responsible citizenship; these notions had prominence because of the strong (re)production of the "Sport vs. Gangs" discourse (Cole, 1996) in their neighborhoods. Rather than providing an essentialist reading of these young men as positioned by this neo-liberal discourse, however, we also pay attention to the possibilities that the young men used basketball to invest in diverse life pathways involving alternative versions of the self.

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Sociology of Sport Journal

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