Postracial Mystique: Media and Race in the Twenty-First Century

Postracial Mystique: Media and Race in the Twenty-First Century

Postracial Mystique: Media and Race in the Twenty-First Century

Postracial Mystique: Media and Race in the Twenty-First Century


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.


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 the face to ask his next question:

“What kind of mix are you?”

Just another day in post-racial America, I thought.

How is it that in what’s termed “post-racial America,” people seem to keep finding ways to keep talking about race? Race is a common topic of conversation and a predictable source of moments of confusion and comedy, as well as of desolation and violence. We are regularly told that things have changed—we are now “post-race”—but exactly how and why those changes have come about and what the changes mean are matters of continuing debate. In mundane and formal settings, citizens confront . . .

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