(In)valuable mixing : mixed race performance, commodification, and American racialization




Lindsey, Natashia Dawn

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(In)Valuable Mixing argues that the affective resonance of the election of President Barack Obama fostered the creation of characters that complicate mainstream narratives of mixed race people and their families of origin. The chapters of my dissertation analyze the performances of Spock from the 2009 movie Star Trek, Gracie and her parents from the 2013 and 2014 Cheerios commercials, and the characters in Gabriel Jason Dean’s play Terminus (What is Owned?). These three case studies focus on three distinct genres—science fiction, television commercials, and a new play—and offer diverse performances of mixed race people and their families of origin. I claim that these performances, in relying on the conventions of their particular genres, emphasize the il/legibility of the character’s racial performance and call into question white supremacist racialization. The first chapter of my dissertation maintains that through the enactment of a critical white double consciousness, Gabriel Jason Dean established multiracial and multiethnic collaborations that helped form nuanced and complex Black, white, and, specifically, mixed-race characters. The Austin, Texas premiere of Terminus acts as a template for how white people can combat the racial trauma that creates and sustains a white schizophrenic subjectivity and promotes stereotypical images of people of color. My chapter on the Cheerios commercials claims that General Mills reactivates the Black man/white woman scenario in order to sell breakfast cereal. The public reactions to these commercials highlight the complicated history and the affective response of fear that some viewers experience when seeing interracial couples/families. The final chapter of my dissertation illustrates how Zachary Quinto’s Spock re-imagines the character outside of the trite, yet legible, stereotypes of the tragic mulatto and hybrid vigor and suffers punishment via the discursive power of race. That is, these punishments, the destruction of Vulcan and the murder of his mother, act, but ultimately fail, to reinstate him back into one of the legible stereotypes. In short, my dissertation is an effort to explore how—and through what mediums—mixed race characters, and monoracial characters in interracial relationships, are presented outside negative stereotypes


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