Christina Bush

Black Soled: Sneakers, Masculine Mis-embodiment, and the Racial Life of Things

Black Soled is a mixed-methods exploration of the racialization of the sneaker from 1985 to the present. In my work I outline how the emergence of Michael Jordan, his subsequent partnership with Nike Inc., and the ban of his first signature shoe by the National Basketball Association in 1985 marked a critical shift in the polysemantic and complex cultural position of sneakers within the United States (and globally). Drawing upon the work of performance theory and thing theory, I propose the concept of “the racial life of things,” and query how and why sneakers, more than any other consumer object, have become deeply and inextricably linked to blackness and masculinity.