9/18/14: Approaching the Language of Race and Racism in a “Post-Racial” Era

9/18/14 NYU Class Session: Approaching the Language of Race and Racism in a “Post-Racial” Era
racism-without-racistsIn this session we will critically interrogate the language of race and racism in contemporary America. More specifically, we will pay close attention to several terms and rhetorical phrases that have become popular “buzzwords” in American media in the post-civil rights era. The terms we will pay particular attention to will be: “colorblindness,” “post-racial,” and “multiculturalism.” To what extent do these phrases congeal more than they reveal? Likewise, to what extent have these terms/concepts caused more harm than good in terms of giving us an adequate language to how race/racism does and does not function in contemporary America. Our central premise in this session will be that popular media–particularly news media (whether it be or CNN or MSNBC, Fox News or The New York Times)–play critical roles in producing the language and vocabulary that everyday Americans use (or misuse?) to describe race and/or racism. Other themes and key concepts to be discussed during this session include intersectionality, neoliberal multiculturalism, hypodescent, and post-intentional racism.

Required Reading:

  1. Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, “The Strange of Enigma of Race”  in Racism without Racists (The Strange Enigma of Race in Contemporary America)
  2. Eduardo Bonilla,  “‘The Sweet Enchantment of Color-Blind Racism in Obamerica’
  3. Ashley Doane, “The Changing Politics of Colorblind Racism” (Online)
  4. Frank Roberts, “Stolen Life: On the Meanings of Trayvon Martin” in The Huffington Post (Online)

Relevant clips for 9/18 discussion:


9/18 Session

1. Group Activity (25 min)

2. Presentations (20 min)

3. Discussion of readings and concept review

Ideological Concept Review

The Strange Enigma of Race (Bonilla-Silva)

  • Sincere Fictions
  • Colorblind Racism
  • Racial Optimists
  • Competing Definitions of Racism
  • Racism vs. Prejudice

The Sweet Enchantment of Colorblind-Racism in Obamerica (Bonilla-Silva)

  • Abstract Liberalism
  • Cultural Racism
  • Minimization

The Changing Politics of Color-Blind Racism and Stolen Life (Doane and Roberts)

  • Racial Discourse
  • Colorblind Racism masquerading as egalitarianism
  • Racial irony and neoliberal multiculturalism

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