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The Post-Racial Mystique

The Post-Racial Mystique: Media and Race in the Twenty-First Century

Catherine R. Squires
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 243
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  • Book Info
    The Post-Racial Mystique
    Book Description:

    Despite claims from pundits and politicians that we now live in a post-racial America, people seem to keep finding ways to talk about race - from celebrations of the inauguration of the firstBlackpresident to resurgent debates about police profiling, race and racism remain salient features of our world. When faced with fervent anti-immigration sentiments, record incarceration rates of Blacks and Latinos, and deepening socio-economic disparities, a new question has erupted in the last decade: What does being post-racial mean?The Post-Racial Mystiqueexplores how a variety of media - the news, network television, and online, independent media - debate, define and deploy the term post-racial in their representations of American politics and society. Using examples from both mainstream and niche media - from prime-time television series to specialty Christian media and audience interactions on social media - Catherine Squires draws upon a variety of disciplines including communication studies, sociology, political science, and cultural studies in order to understand emergent strategies for framing post-racial America. She reveals the ways in which media texts cast U.S. history, re-imagine interpersonal relationships, employ statistics, and inventively redeploy other identity categories in a quest to formulate different ways of responding to race.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-7078-8
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction: Welcome to Post-Racial America
    (pp. 1-16)

    As my son and I walked down the street, taking our usual route with our dog, we crossed paths with a man I’d never seen in our neighborhood before. He appeared to be white and seemed to be looking for something specific, as if he needed directions. He smiled at us as we approached, looked at the dog, and asked from a few yards away, “What breed is that?” I told him she was a mix: “Australian Shepherd and Beagle, or so we were told by the dog rescue society.” He petted her, smiled, and then looked me right in...

  5. 1 Post-Racial News: Covering the “Joshua Generation”
    (pp. 17-64)

    The earliest reference to “post-racial” I could find in the news appeared in a 1976Newsweekarticle about then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter. The reporter described the Georgia Democrat as one of a small handful of white politicians who were willing to “gamble his future on a new post-racial Southern politics” in the years prior to the major legal victories of the civil rights movement.¹ In this context, post-racial politics meant a politics that would emerge when the institutional apparatus of white supremacy was dismantled. The article compared Carter to the character of Atticus Finch in ToKill a Mockingbird:clear...

  6. 2 Brothers from Another Mother: Rescripting Religious Ties to Overcome the Racial Past
    (pp. 65-96)

    One type of post-racial discourse suggests that other sources of communal identities—nation, gender, or class—are more legitimate means for classifying groups and organizing political action. Race, in these discussions, is often characterized as a distraction from these more valid or “real” identities. On the Left, this is expressed most often by a concern that commitments to multiculturalism have derailed activists’ and scholars’ class-based analysis and action.¹ On the Right, post-racial discourse elevates the role of the individual, but also charges that emphasis on racial identities erodes our sense of national unity and amplifies difference at the expense of...

  7. 3 The Post-Racial Family: Parenthood and the Politics of Interracial Relationships on TV
    (pp. 97-132)

    Network entertainment television has served as one barometer of racial inclusion and sentiment.¹ Although the networks have certainly been conservative in terms of the pace of racial integration—both in front of and behind the cameras—television producers’ responses to the challenges of representing diversity provide us with an interesting gauge of what influential, creative people in media think Americans want—or are ready for—in terms of entertainment. For the greater part of this history, this readiness has been translated according to what television executives and creative personnel believe advertisers and white audiences will accept.

    In the twentieth century,...

  8. 4 Post-Racial Audiences: Discussions of Parenthood’s Interracial Couple
    (pp. 133-164)

    As T. F.’s remark demonstrates, fictional television shows can inspire strong feelings. Viewers connect with storylines and characters, consciously and unconsciously judging the motives of the characters, as well as evaluating how skillfully the writers develop storylines. It is thus particularly important for studies of post-racial media to examine how audiences react when producers inject racial difference into programs broadcast in an era when race ostensibly matters “less” than it did before, while advertisers attempt to reach ever-more-diverse consumers/ audiences. This chapter takes a look at how some viewers discussed the post-racial network television dramaParenthood. These Facebook conversations exhibit...

  9. 5 Not “Post-Racial,” Race-Aware: Blogging Race in the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 165-186)

    One troubling omission from the post-racial discourse I have analyzed thus far is the idea of “anti-racism.” I thought it reasonable to expect that, in the news, more folks would refer to anti-racism in some way, shape, or form to argue that we were on the verge of a post-racial society. Whether the term appeared in the context of crediting anti-racist movements or anti-racist education, I thought I would see it more often than I did. Indeed, I did a search for variations on “anti-racism” as part of the initial data collection. I used computer searches to see which key...

  10. Conclusion: Back to the Post-Racial Future
    (pp. 187-206)

    On February 27, 2013, two events occurred that together caught the attention of news commentators’ irony detectors. One was President Barack Obama’s dedication of a statue of civil rights activist Rosa Parks. The other was the U.S. Supreme Court’s hearing of arguments against the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Indeed, many television news outlets moved from footage of the President’s remark that without movement pioneers such as Parks, he “would not be here,” to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s condemnation of the VRA as “a racial entitlement.” But the juxtaposition of Obama’s reverence for civil rights history with Scalia’s disdain was...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 207-232)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 233-234)
    (pp. 235-235)