Learning from a “Teachable Moment”: The Henry Louis Gates Arrest as Media Spectacle and Theorizing Colorblind Racism

Media and Power in International Contexts: Perspectives on Agency and Identity

ISBN: 978-1-78769-456-9, eISBN: 978-1-78769-455-2

ISSN: 2050-2060

Publication date: 12 November 2018

Abstract

Racism in the United States is complex given the cultural logics that uphold notions of “post-race” or “colorblindness” as a means for understanding racialized events. The various forces at play within media institutions create paradoxes in the power that the media wields in society. Utilizing the concept of “media spectacle” and putting it into dialogue with colorblind racism, the author looks at local coverage of the 2009 arrest of Henry Louis Gates. The author’s primary concern is to identify not only the narratives that uphold or challenge colorblind racism during racialized events, but also the dynamic in which racialized events are mediated in contemporary society. Through a critical discourse analysis of two Boston newspapers, the author demonstrates the way colorblind racism adapts during a racialized event. This study demonstrates the contested nature of the media and nuance to the ways we understand colorblind racism in an increasingly mediated society.

Keywords

Citation

Jason A. Smith (2018). 'Learning from a “Teachable Moment”: The Henry Louis Gates Arrest as Media Spectacle and Theorizing Colorblind Racism', in Apryl A. WilliamsRuth TsuriaLaura RobinsonAneka Khilnani (ed.) Media and Power in International Contexts: Perspectives on Agency and Identity (Studies in Media and Communications, Volume 16). Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 35-50

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DOI

: https://doi.org/10.1108/S2050-206020180000016006

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited

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