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Color-Blind Racism in the Media: Mindy Kaling as an “Honorary White”?

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Abstract:

Though television appears to have meaningless implications on our lives, audiences often interpret their relationships to people of different social identities—such as ethnic or racial ones—based on exposure through media (Hunt 2005). Fox’s romantic comedy sitcom The Mindy Project (2012) depicts relationships between Mindy Lahiri—an obstetrician/gynecologist of Indian descent—and her co-workers, friends and romantic partners. Mindy Kaling, who performs Lahiri’s character, also produces the sitcom. This research tests the theoretical applicability of color-blind racism by examining content analyses and the sitcom’s discourse. I utilize Bonilla-Silva’s frames of abstract liberalism and minimization of racism to discuss how—in the era of colorblind racism—performers, notably non-Black immigrants of color such as Kaling, must be willing to disembody their nonwhite identity, surround themselves with the invisibility of whiteness and perform their character as if they are white—or aspiring “honorary whites”—in order to succeed on mainstream television. Despite Kaling’s utilization of comedy to transgress the hegemony of whiteness, she perpetuates a white supremacist hierarchy by strategically aligning herself with white—as opposed to Black or South Asian—cultural norms. As a larger implication, Kaling demonstrates how immigrants of color can conveniently exercise privilege by manipulating their racial identity to gain access to white culture and economic success. In conclusion, if Kaling truly wished to respond to hegemonic whiteness, she would construct a script that directly confronts, subverts and challenges the racial status quo as opposed to one that simply responds to the challenges of cultural assimilation.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

white (80), racial (72), lahiri (64), mindi (63), kale (55), racism (53), color (45), charact (44), black (43), media (43), televis (41), project (40), show (38), asian (37), ident (36), cultur (35), south (35), peopl (32), indian (30), blind (30), sood (27),
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Name: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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http://www.asanet.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p649785_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Sood, Sheena. "Color-Blind Racism in the Media: Mindy Kaling as an “Honorary White”?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton New York and Sheraton New York, New York, NY, Aug 09, 2013 <Not Available>. 2014-01-07 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p649785_index.html>

APA Citation:

Sood, S. , 2013-08-09 "Color-Blind Racism in the Media: Mindy Kaling as an “Honorary White”?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Hilton New York and Sheraton New York, New York, NY Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2014-01-07 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p649785_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Though television appears to have meaningless implications on our lives, audiences often interpret their relationships to people of different social identities—such as ethnic or racial ones—based on exposure through media (Hunt 2005). Fox’s romantic comedy sitcom The Mindy Project (2012) depicts relationships between Mindy Lahiri—an obstetrician/gynecologist of Indian descent—and her co-workers, friends and romantic partners. Mindy Kaling, who performs Lahiri’s character, also produces the sitcom. This research tests the theoretical applicability of color-blind racism by examining content analyses and the sitcom’s discourse. I utilize Bonilla-Silva’s frames of abstract liberalism and minimization of racism to discuss how—in the era of colorblind racism—performers, notably non-Black immigrants of color such as Kaling, must be willing to disembody their nonwhite identity, surround themselves with the invisibility of whiteness and perform their character as if they are white—or aspiring “honorary whites”—in order to succeed on mainstream television. Despite Kaling’s utilization of comedy to transgress the hegemony of whiteness, she perpetuates a white supremacist hierarchy by strategically aligning herself with white—as opposed to Black or South Asian—cultural norms. As a larger implication, Kaling demonstrates how immigrants of color can conveniently exercise privilege by manipulating their racial identity to gain access to white culture and economic success. In conclusion, if Kaling truly wished to respond to hegemonic whiteness, she would construct a script that directly confronts, subverts and challenges the racial status quo as opposed to one that simply responds to the challenges of cultural assimilation.

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