Esquire's new "American Boy" cover piece, the first in a planned series, is being widely criticized for its spotlight on the most certainly already-in-the-spotlight subject of "what it's like to grow up white, middle class, and male" in the social media age.
The focus of writer Jennifer Percy's piece is 17-year-old Ryan Morgan from West Bend, Wisconsin. As the article notes, West Bend is a predominantly white (95 percent) area. From there, we read of Morgan's daily routines amid high school and his apparent support for Trump, a stance he doesn't appear to grasp as being aligned with a vast array of troubling ideologies many Americans consider direct threats to their way of life.
Following the article's publication Tuesday, many have said that shining a light on this facet of the American experienceis a waste of space. A powerful example of this argument comes from Bitch Media's Evette Dionne, who pointed out that there's "not a single woman or non binary person of color or Black woman in a senior, decision-making role" on the mag's masthead.
In an accompanying letter explaining why, exactly, he chose to run this piece, Editor in Chief Jay Fielden said that Percy's piece was partially inspired by an experience his son relayed to him about a school exercise.
"Eric Sullivan, one of our senior editors... helpfully recalled a classic Esquire profile," Fielden said, pointing to a 1992 piece by Susan Orlean on the daily life of a 10-year-old boy. "Twenty-six years later, we decided to follow that model but to enlarge it into a series on growing up now—white, black, LGBTQ, female—that will continue to appear in coming issues."
As the article continued being shared among the discourse Tuesday, many other concerns were raised about the intentions of the piece, particularly during such politically dire times. Others merely riffed on the cover. Below, see how the discussion is shaping up so far.