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Racialism and the Media

Black Jesus, Black Twitter, and the First Black American President

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Venise T. Berry

Racialism and Media: Black Jesus, Black Twitter and the First Black American President is an exploration of how the nature of racial ideology has changed in our society. Yes, there are still ugly racists who push uglier racism, but there are also popular constructions of race routinely woven into mediated images and messages. This book examines selected exemplars of racialism moving beyond traditional racism. In the twenty-first century, we need a more nuanced understanding of racial constructions. Denouncing anything and everything problematic as racist or racism simply does not work, especially if we want to move toward a real solution to America’s race problems. Racialism involves images and messages that are produced, distributed, and consumed repetitively and intertextually based on stereotypes, biased framing, and historical myths about African American culture. These images and messages are eventually normalized through the media, ultimately shaping and influencing societal ideology and behavior. Through the lens of critical race theory these chapters examine issues of intersectionality in Crash, changing Black identity in Black-ish, the balancing of stereotypes in prime-time TV’s Black male and female roles, the power of Black images and messages in advertising, the cultural wealth offered through the Black Twitter platform, biased media framing of the first Black American president, the satirical parody of Black Jesus, contemporary Zip Coon stereotypes in film, the popularity of ghettofabulous black culture, and, finally, the evolution of black representation in science fiction.

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Chapter Seven: Deconstructing Intersectionality in Crash

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CHAPTER SEVEN

Deconstructing Intersectionality in Crash

With a 6.5 million dollar budget, Crash (2004) grossed almost 100 million dollars worldwide after its release in May of 2005 (Jacobs, 2017). It garnered six Oscar nominations, and eventually won three for Best Picture, Best Editing, and Best Original Screenplay (Caro, 2006). In an interview with director Matthew Jacobs the co-writer Paul Haggis discussed how being from Canada allowed him to see small contrasts and comparisons concerning attitudes and behaviors among different races and classes in Los Angeles that many others often missed. Haggis said he purposefully pushed stereotypical roles for the first twenty minutes of the movie and then turned them around (Jacobs, 2017).

I wanted people to relax and say, I’m not going to challenge you. I’m only going to reinforce every stereotype you ever thought and let you laugh at it. And then as soon as I’ve got you relaxed, I can start twisting you around in your seat until you’re left spinning.

The movie begins and ends with a car crash. In the beginning, a voiceover by police detective Graham says, “It’s the sense of touch. In a real city you walk. You brush past people. People bump into you. In LA nobody touches you. We’re always behind metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much that we crash into something just so we can feel something.”

Crash shows how people from different cultures and ideologies...

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