#NoJusticeNoLeBron and the Persistence of Messianic Masculinity in Black Athlete Activism

Timothy Piper


This article engages the “NoJusticeNoLeBron” hashtag and Twitter discourse of December 2015 as a case study to examine the racial, gender, and sexual politics undergirding practices that will Black athletes to participate in activist movements. Scholarship on the history of Black athletes and protest illustrates communal investment in sports figures as activists, but largely foregrounds the importance of Black heterosexual men. Within #NoJusticeNoLebron, there remains an affective investment in athletes who identify along these lines. This practice is best understood by conjoining Sara Ahmed’s theorization of willfulness with the religious studies concept of messianic masculinity, which implores Black men to sacrifice for their communities. Synthesizing these theories along with a discourse analysis of tweets, this article illuminates how Blackness and masculinity are understood in the current moment. While Twitter affords contemporary activists the abilities to coalesce around and amplify their investment in messianic masculinity, the larger Twittersphere communicates problems associated with willing Black athletes to act. Crucially, this analysis reveals the need for additional nonheteronormative voices of color in these movements.


race, gender, masculinity, athlete activism, social media, Blackness, Twitter

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