By Jonathan Markovitz
Racial Spectacles: Explorations in Media, Race, and Justice examines the an important function the media has performed in circulating and shaping nationwide dialogues approximately race through representations of crime and racialized violence. Jonathan Markovitz argues that mass media "racial spectacles" frequently paintings to shore up racist stereotypes, yet that additionally they offer possibilities to problem normal conceptions of race, and will be seized upon as cars for social protest. This publication explores a sequence of mass media spectacles revolving round the information, prime-time tv, Hollywood cinema, and the net that experience both relied upon, reconfigured, or helped to build collective stories of race, crime, and (in)justice. The case stories explored comprise the Scottsboro interracial rape case of the Thirties, the Kobe Bryant rape case, the la Police Department’s "Rampart scandal," the Abu Ghraib photos, and a sequence of racist incidents on the college of California.
This publication will end up to be very important not just for classes on race and media, but in addition for any reader attracted to problems with the media's function in social justice.
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Additional info for Racial Spectacles: Explorations in Media, Race, and Justice
They hopped the Memphis-bound freight only when their hopes for Chattanooga didn’t pan out. 66 In Huntsville, they had lived among black people, played with them as children, roamed the streets with them as teenagers, bootlegged liquor and got drunk with them as young adults. 67 Until Scottsboro, few would have seen either Price or Bates as exemplars of pure white womanhood. And when the prosecution and the southern white press suggested that it was necessary to convict the defendants in order to “protect the fair womanhood”68 of Alabama, the Scottsboro defense movement seized upon this fact, making every effort to discredit their testimony by focusing on their sexual histories.
The Raleigh Times wasn’t alone in its declaration that rape charges could be traced to women’s pathology. 65 In fact, demonization of the women’s sexuality was central to Scottsboro movement rhetoric, and to the extent that the regional or national press sided with the defendants, this support was contingent upon representing their accusers as sexually deviant. Victoria Price and Ruby Bates had lived difficult lives. They came from poor families, had little formal education, and had been working in the cotton mills of Huntsville, in northern Alabama, when work could be found, for years before moving to Chattanooga in search of more secure employment.
As a defining racial spectacle of the 1930s, the Scottsboro case has entered into collective memory in numerous ways, and, in the process, has played an important though largely overlooked role in national processes of racial formation. The case has helped to determine the ways that audiences in later decades have made sense of subsequent racial spectacles. It has influenced the criteria that people use when evaluating evidence, and in assessing the kinds of analyses that they find credible. In the discussion that follows, I present an extended investigation into the racialized and gendered dimensions of the Scottsboro case as it moved through the court system and the mass media in the 1930s.