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Mixed Messages On Mixed Race.

Is Neo, humanity's savior in The Matrix, the child of a Black father and white mother? What is the subtext of Gone With the Wind heroine Scarlett O'Hara's biraciality? While Mixed Race Hollywood (NYU Press), edited by Mary Beltran and Camilla Fojas, is not a gossipy series of racially "outing" stars, it is an interrogation of pop culture's representations of multiracial characters and interracial relationships. Written by scholars from film studies and American studies, this collection of essays explores genres such as Westerns, sci-fi, Blaxploitation and Disney, as well as stars like Jessica Alba, The Rock, Jennifer Beals and Keanu Reeves.


This volume's scholars cast contemporary images of mixed-race characters in a contradictory light. On the one hand, some academics argue that favorable images of mixed-race characters as heroic and indomitable figures are a sign of progress. Others, though, assert that we are far from a post-racial society, citing the anxieties around racial purity and maintaining a white-dominated social order that are the subtext of a great number of films.

A recurring theme throughout the essays in Mixed Race Hollywood is that images of interracial relationships and multiracial people have shifted as social norms have evolved, and that groundbreaking representations arguably have also played a significant role in helping to change attitudes. But the collection also leaves readers wondering about how representations of mixed-race people are being used today as proof of racial progress even as racism and injustice continue.

--Roya Rastegar

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Author:Rastegar, Roya
Publication:Colorlines Magazine
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 1, 2009
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