‘Esquire’ Gets Roasted For Devoting Black History Month Issue To Random White Kid

Esquire magazine found itself the target of some social media backlash today after releasing a March issue featuring a cover store about just a regular ol’ (Trump-supporting) white American boy.

That’s not an especially under-represented demographic (think of all the coverage of Covington Catholic student Nick Sandmann), and it is Black History month, so the optics aren’t great. Actually, that last bit alone is a pretty good indication that the magazine knew exactly what they were doing—they certainly got enough people reading the article and talking about them.

The magazine profiles 17-year old Ryan Morgan from West Bend, WI, with a headline reading, “An American Boy: What it’s like to grow up white, middle class and male in the era of social media, school shootings, toxic masculinity and a divided country.”

The profile is meant to be the first installment of a “series on growing up now—white, black, LGBTQ, female—that will continue to appear in coming issues.”

It seems like maybe the straight, white, male angle has already been covered sufficiently, though?

In a letter accompanying the article (“Why Your Idealogical Echo Chamber Isn’t Just Bad For You”), Esquire editor-in-chief Jay Fielden wrote:

“We disagree as a country on every possible cultural and political point except, perhaps, one: that private life, as a result, has also become its own fresh hell. This has made the very social fabric of modern democratic civilization—watercooler BS, chats with cabbies and total strangers, dinner parties, large family gatherings—sometimes feel like a Kafkaesque thought-police nightmare of paranoia and nausea, in which you might accidentally say what you really believe and get burned at the stake.”

Really? “Fresh hell”? “Kafkaesque”? Because people frown on the use of racial slurs?

Twitter spent the day taking Esquire to task and mocking Morgan (but again, the magazine ultimately got all the attention they were looking for).

The author of the profile, Jennifer Percy, explained to CBS that the article was meant to show “how much work we still have to do to educate boys about inherited white male privilege. It also shows that the teenage years are an ideal time to make change.” She claimed that she didn’t have anything to do with the image or text on the magazine cover and that she “found the presentation misleading.”

Jessie Dean Altman

Dean Altman is a writer living in NYC.