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Displaying Race for Dollars: Racial Realism in Media and Entertainment

Displaying Race for Dollars: Racial Realism in Media and Entertainment

Chapter:
(p.153) 4 Displaying Race for Dollars: Racial Realism in Media and Entertainment
Source:
After Civil Rights
Author(s):
John D. Skrentny
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691159966.003.0004

This chapter explores racial realism in the advertising and entertainment industries (movies, TV, and professional sports). These cases are distinctive because they are almost totally focused on racial signaling—the image of the worker is very much the product that the employers are selling. Racial signaling is thus common in all of them, though rarer in sports than the other sectors, especially in the last few decades. Hence, the chapter shows that civil rights law does not authorize these practices. It also examines the possibility that television shows' dependence on use of federally regulated airwaves, and sports teams' dependence on the public financing of stadiums might provide legal openings for racial realism in these sectors. Since this employment sector is about expression, this chapter also explores possible First Amendment defenses for these employers, and shows that at least one court has found a constitutionally protected freedom to discriminate.

Keywords:   advertising, entertainment, film industry, television shows, professional sports, racial signaling, First Amendment, racial realism

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