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The Colorblind ScreenTelevision in Post-Racial America$
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Sarah Nilsen and Sarah E. Turner

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479809769

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479809769.001.0001

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Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey

Cultural Icon of Mainstream (White) America

(p.83) 4 Oprah Winfrey
The Colorblind Screen

Janice Peck

NYU Press

This chapter analyzes iconic figures in American popular culture to highlight the ways in which race is read and utilized by audiences, fans, and television programming. It specifically examines the career of Oprah Winfrey and her thirteen episode series “Racism in 1992” by discussing Winfrey's claim that she “transcends race.” This inquiry highlights the interconnection between the rise of the neoliberal political-economic project over the last quarter century and the emergence of a post-civil rights racial ideology of colorblindness that is part of the fundamental reformulation of thinking about the problem of race in American society. The ability to evoke a “para-social relationship” and “intimacy at a distance” with a majority white audience reflects Winfrey's skill at simultaneously embracing her black heritage while keeping at arm's length aspects of the black historical experience that might alienate white fans; this fits perfectly within the colorblind ideology of post-racial America.

Keywords:   iconic figures, American popular culture, race, Oprah Winfrey, Racism in 1992, neoliberal political-economic project, racial ideology, colorblindness, post-racial America

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