Friday, December 14, 2012

Why America Can't Think Straight About Race

Enlightened Racism: The Cosby Show, Audiences & the Myth of the American Dream (1992) by Sut Jhally and Justin Lewis

Based on an extensive audience study, this provocative book reinforces criticism that, despite The Cosby Show's great popularity and positive influences, it promotes the dangerous myth that blacks who don't "make it" have only themselves to blame. The authors interviewed 52 focus groups, learning that viewers involve themselves deeply with the show and often see it as reality. White viewers can identify with and accept TV's Huxtable family as "nice" blacks; black viewers appreciate the show's lack of racial stereotyping. 

However, the authors argue, The Cosby Show 's images of the black upper class--like most images broadcast in recent years--hide and distort how most blacks live, thus relieving white viewers of responsibility for such inequalities. Neither blacks nor whites interviewed think clearly about class, the authors say; thus, our society cannot think clearly about how race and class intersect.

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