Esquire is facing backlash for profiling a white middle-class 17-year-old on growing up in America, for its newest cover story.
On the cover, it reads: “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, #MeToo, and a divided country.”
The magazine then details the life of Ryan Morgan, a high school senior from West Bend, Wisconsin, who likes “cool sneakers” and the “Packers” and who told the magazine: “I know what I can’t do, I just don’t know what I can do.”
According to a letter written by the magazine’s editor-in-chief Jay Fielden, the profile is the first in a new series that will delve into what it is like “growing up now – white, black LGBT, female – that will continue to appear in coming issues”.
And the goal, according to Fielden, is to “look at our divided country through the eyes of one kid”.
However, despite the magazine’s intentions for future issues, people on social media questioned the decision to begin the series based on the thoughts of a white male – considering the prevalence of white male privilege in the country.
“A cover story about a white American boy being afraid to ‘speak up’ is not breaking me out of any sort of echo chamber,” one person wrote. “That’s the face of the kid who has the loudest & most recognised voice in the country.”
Another person said: “Because you know what we don’t discuss nearly enough? The white male experience.”
“Isn’t every issue of Esquire about what it’s like to be white, male and middle class? Emphasising it on the cover seems redundant,” someone else tweeted.
Others took offence with the release of the March issue during February, which is Black History Month in America.
I really thought that @esquire cover was a joke at first— Margaret Wartime (@sryimnotsorry1)February 12, 2019
It is extremely telling that, while the esquire editor’s note mentions that non-white, non-male children will be profiled eventually, it’s the white boy who gets the cover and the first story https://t.co/7SXxpZFGUa pic.twitter.com/It5WH9jd43— Jack Mirkinson (@jackmirkinson)February 12, 2019
*inside Esquire conference room*
Esquire CEO: “we should probably do a cover story for black history month, any suggestions?”
Editor: “there’s a white boy in Wisconsin who’s sad”
Esquire CEO: “run it” pic.twitter.com/g4XN5AB6TP— Father Sean Misty (@seanieviola)February 12, 2019
“Esquire really making choices, during Black History Month, no less,” one person tweeted, while another said: “Esquire have 100 per cent missed the mark with its March cover here. Let’s celebrate white male privilege during Black History Month, shall we?”
The Independent has contacted Esquire for comment.