Numerical Blackface?

42 - Courtesy C. Krupa

Proposition: The uniform is the protective and symbolic skin of baseball, while its numbering number serves as a marker of identity.

Minor Tangent: In his rhetorical analysis of sports videogames, titled "Performing Blackness: Virtual Sports and Becoming the Other in an Era of White Supremacy," David Leonard invokes such terms as high-tech blackface, minstrelsy, and virtual black athletic body when describing the skinned characters that may be donned by the gamer at home. We also recall that these identity-vehicles are polygons dancing in a mathematically-generated ludic non-space — which is to say they are composed of numerical code.

42 - Courtesy C. Krupa

Question: Then in this tribute to Jackie Robinson, who broke Major League Baseball's color barrier in 1947 wearing number 42, do we not introduce a symbolic appropriation of his struggles through a form of transhistorical numerical blackface? And by corporate decree do we not also homogenize the identities of the current players and coaches on the field in this donning of the cloned skin?


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