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.
The author would like to thank Rutledge Dennis and Bhoomi K. Thakore for comments on an earlier draft, as well as the editors and reviewers for helpful comments throughout the publishing process.
Smith, J. (2018), "Learning from a “Teachable Moment”: The Henry Louis Gates Arrest as Media Spectacle and Theorizing Colorblind Racism", Williams, A., Tsuria, R., Robinson, L. and Khilnani, A. (Ed.) Media and Power in International Contexts: Perspectives on Agency and Identity (Studies in Media and Communications, Vol. 16), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 35-50. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2050-206020180000016006Download as .RIS
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