Following Richard Sherman’s infamous postgame interview after the 2013 NFC championship game, the popular media mobilized in rebuttal to what appeared to be the rampant expression of racism on Twitter and other social media. Articles on the websites for Grantland, Deadspin, The Nation, Esquire, Ebony, and many others shamed Sherman’s racist detractors enthusiastically. This essay argues that the Sherman incident charted an elaborate anti-racist political argument calibrated to reflect the demands and objectives of neoliberal capitalism. I advance this argument in two main sections. First, I explain how the relationship between anti-racism and neoliberalism is complicated by what Jodi Dean calls communicative capitalism, a situation that neutralizes the purported effects of anti-racist speech in support of Richard Sherman. Second, I show how Sherman’s challenge to the notion of Black respectability renders his blackness imaginary, a move that depoliticizes capitalist relations in the name of anti-racism.
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