Dispatches from the Color Line

The Press and Multiracial America

By Catherine R. Squires

Subjects: Communication
Series: SUNY series, Negotiating Identity: Discourses, Politics, Processes, and Praxes
Paperback : 9780791471005, 295 pages, July 2007
Hardcover : 9780791470992, 295 pages, July 2007

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
1. "Hybrid Degenerates" to "Multiracial Families": Discourses of Race Mixing in America
2. The In/discernible Body of Susie Phipps
3. "Not as Black as the Next Guy": A Peculiar Case of White Identity in the News
4. Descended from Whom? Defining Maria Hylton in the News
5. Counting Race, Counting Controversy: Multiracial Identity and the 2000 Census in Asian American, Black American, and Dominant Periodicals
6. After the Census
Conclusion: Dispatches from the Twenty-First-Century Color Line

Explores contemporary news media coverage of multiracial people and identities.


When modern news media choose to focus attention on people of multiracial descent, how does this fit with broader contemporary and historical racial discourses? Do these news narratives complicate common understandings of race and race relations? Dispatches from the Color Line explores these issues by examining contemporary news media coverage of multiracial people and identities. Catherine R. Squires looks at how journalists utilize information from many sources—including politicians, bureaucrats, activists, scholars, demographers, and marketers—to link multiracial identity to particular racial norms, policy preferences, and cultural trends. She considers individuals who were accused (rightly or wrongly) of misrepresenting their racial identity to the public for personal gain, and also compares the new racial categories of Census 2000 as reported in Black owned, Asian American owned, and mainstream newspapers. These comparisons reveal how a new racial group is framed in mass media, and how different media sources reinforce or challenge long-standing assumptions about racial identity and belonging in the United States.

Catherine R. Squires is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Afroamerican and African Studies at the University of Michigan.


With Barack Obama a major candidate for president at the time of its publication, this study of how news media deal with multiracial people and issues is timely. " — CHOICE

"This is one of the few sustained treatments on racial discourse, interracial representation, and the media. The use of case examples organized around coverage of key controversies—court cases, life stories, public controversies—gives the narrative momentum and at the same time provides the author with the space for serious and engaged analysis. " — Herman Gray, author of Cultural Moves: African Americans and the Politics of Representation