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Book Chapter

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Race and Hegemonic Struggle: Pop Culture, Politics, and Protest

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Contemporary rhetoric about race and racism has been shaped, in part, by popular films. Since the late 1980s and 1990s, Hollywood has provided a variety of what Kelly Madison refers to as "anti-racist-white-hero" films.1 Movies including Amistad, Cry Freedom, The Long Walk Home, Mississippi Burning, and Ghosts of Mississippi have routinely positioned white protagonists as civil rights heroes who win justice for the black community by punishing or humiliating white antagonists. Each film frames racial injustice as the consequence of closed-minded individuals, rather than as the outcome of the U.S. economic and political system. More recently, the motion pictures The Blind Side and The Help have featured white Southern women advocating on behalf of individual black people despite the racial prejudices of their friends and neighbors. These films are part of a broader collection of texts that have remembered the civil rights era in terms of progress toward racial justice.


This article was archived with permission from Rowman and Littlefield, all rights reserved. Document also available from: “Remembering Radical Black Dissent: Traumatic Counter-Memories in Contemporary Documentaries about the Black Power Movement.” (2014). Lacy, M.,and Triece, M. (Eds.), Race and Hegemonic Struggle: Pop Culture, Politics, and Protest. Madison, WI: Fairleigh Dickinson Press: 69-90.