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Watching Race

Television and the Struggle for Blackness

2004
Author:

Herman Gray

Watching Race

A classic examination of the cultural relationship between television and race—with a new introduction!

In the late 1980s and early 1990s television representations of African Americans exploded on the small screen. Starting with the portrayal of blacks on series such as The Jack Benny Show and Amos ’n’ Andy and continuing through The Cosby Show and In Living Color, Herman Gray shows how the meaning of blackness on screen has changed through the years.

Finally, a book that moves out of the prison house of stereotypes, beyond the common yet simplistic dichotomies of ‘positive’ versus ‘negative’ images. Herman Gray brilliantly and persuasively turns our attention to the more complicated issue of the politics of representation.

Robin D. G. Kelley, New York University

In the late 1980s and early 1990s television representations of African Americans exploded on the small screen. Starting with the portrayal of blacks on series such as The Jack Benny Show and Amos ’n’ Andy and continuing through The Cosby Show and In Living Color, Gray shows how the meaning of blackness on screen has changed through the years.

Watching Race

Herman Gray is professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is also the author of Producing Jazz and has appeared in the documentaries Color Adjustment and Signal to Noise.

Watching Race

Finally, a book that moves out of the prison house of stereotypes, beyond the common yet simplistic dichotomies of ‘positive’ versus ‘negative’ images. Herman Gray brilliantly and persuasively turns our attention to the more complicated issue of the politics of representation.

Robin D. G. Kelley, New York University

This is a complex, subtle, and very important book. Gray argues that television is the site where key racial moments (Rodney King, Hill-Thomas hearings, Simpson trial, Los Angeles riots) have been staged and interpreted for the American public.

Contemporary Sociology

Herman Gray’s absorbing book offers incisive analysis of the important, often fierce battles being waged in the black-and-white representational landscape of commercial television.

Patricia Williams, author of The Alchemy of Race and Rights