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Postracial Mystique

Media and Race in the 21st Century

Catherine R. Squires

Publication Year: 2014

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 first Black president 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 Mystique explores 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.

Published by: NYU Press


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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction: Welcome to Post-Racial America

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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...

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1. Post-Racial News: Covering the “Joshua Generation”

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pp. 17-64

The earliest reference to “post-racial” I could find in the news appeared in a 1976 Newsweek article 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...

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2. Brothers from Another Mother: Rescripting Religious Ties to Overcome the Racial Past

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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...

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3. The Post-Racial Family: Parenthood and the Politics of Interracial Relationships on TV

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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...

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4. Post-Racial Audiences: Discussions of Parenthood’s Interracial Couple

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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...

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5. Not “Post-Racial,” Race-Aware: Blogging Race in the Twenty-First Century

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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...

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Conclusion: Back to the Post-Racial Future

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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...


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pp. 207-232


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pp. 233-234

About the Author

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E-ISBN-13: 9780814770788
E-ISBN-10: 0814770789
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814762899
Print-ISBN-10: 0814762891

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 870951072
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Postracial Mystique

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mass media and race relations -- United States.
  • Cultural pluralism in mass media -- United States.
  • Post-racialism -- United States.
  • Race and media.
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