Contemporary Representations of Race: Mediating the New(s) Politics of Blackness in the Obama Moment
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This dissertation examines ways in which the myth of meritocracy, notions of America as post-racial, and instances of colorisms are articulated through CNN (Cable News Network) during the rise of then-Senator Barack Obama’s bid for President of the United States in 2008. For White and middle-class groups, Obama’s candidacy seemingly advanced their mainstream American society’s lift-yourself-by-your- bootstraps/no-excuses values. I consider that CNN’s Black in America (2008) series was released during a time in which many Americans detrimentally perceived Obama’s nomination as an accurate measurement of how far removed America is from its race problem. While using a framing analysis to deconstruct its two episodes (“The Black Man” and “The Black Woman and Family”), I draw attention to how stereotypes of blackness pervade news media – a media genre often construed as an objective platform. Furthermore, I explore how some of its narratives reinforce false notions of Black people freely living in a race-free utopia, thus inevitably discrediting all of their socio-economic challenges dictated by the American White status quo. By exploring narratives placating to the American delusion that its society is now void of racism, while also employing color hierarchies and the myth of meritocracy, I will demonstrate how modern racism permeated news media during the Obama Moment.
Patricia Hill Collins
myth of meritocracy
French, Nina Casetra (2017). Contemporary Representations of Race: Mediating the New(s) Politics of Blackness in the Obama Moment. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from