The Post-Racial Mystique

Media and Race in the Twenty-First Century

243 pages

9 halftones and 7 tables

April, 2014

ISBN: 9780814770603



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Catherine R. Squires is Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Dispatches from the Color Line: The Press and Multiracial America.

All books by Catherine R. Squires

Despite claims from pundits and politicians that we now live in a post-racial America, people seem to keep finding ways to talk about race—from celebrations of the inauguration of the first Black president to resurgent debates about police profiling, race and racism remain salient features of our world. When faced with fervent anti-immigration sentiments, record incarceration rates of Blacks and Latinos, and deepening socio-economic disparities, a new question has erupted in the last decade: What does being post-racial mean?

The Post-Racial Mystique explores how a variety of media—the news, network television, and online, independent media—debate, define and deploy the term “post-racial” in their representations of American politics and society. Using examples from both mainstream and niche media—from prime-time television series to specialty Christian media and audience interactions on social media—Catherine Squires draws upon a variety of disciplines including communication studies, sociology, political science, and cultural studies in order to understand emergent strategies for framing post-racial America. She reveals the ways in which media texts cast U.S. history, re-imagine interpersonal relationships, employ statistics, and inventively redeploy other identity categories in a quest to formulate different ways of responding to race.


  • “With rigor and accessible style, Catherine R. Squires provides an excellent view of the history and contemporary terrain of media and racial discourse in all of its complexity. The Post-Racial Mystique will be a defining book in our long-lasting and complicated conversation about the interrelationship between race and media.”

    —Charlton McIlwain, co-author of Race Appeal: How Candidates Invoke Race in U.S. Political Campaigns

  • “Far too many Americans today see ‘race’ self-deludingly through the foggy lens of ‘post-racism.’ Catherine R. Squires dispels the fog with this insightful study of the enduring grip of ‘race’ over American life.”

    —John Downing, co-author of Representing ‘Race’: Racisms, Ethnicity and the Media

  • "Through a series of well chosen and meticulously analyzed case studies, Squires illuminates how postracialism came to be part of the national imaginary and makes a convincing argument for why it ultimately cannot camouflage the ways in which race still matters in the U.S. social life.”

    Journal of Communication