Communication ETDs


Iliana Rucker

Publication Date



The election of Barack Obama as President of the United States brought a heightened awareness to the role of race and produced speculation about the idealized notion of the achievement of a post-racial United States. This dissertation examined mediated conversations on mixed race identity in response to some of the significant events in the Obama campaign and the first months of the Obama presidency. Specifically, this study examined the ways that newspapers and blogs construct discourses about race, mixed race, and racism. Further, I explored the biological, legal, and social implications as they relate to current constructions of mixed race identity. This dissertation centered the data collection around four pivotal discourses in the Obama era: (1) Obama's announcement of his presidential candidacy; (2) Obama's "A More Perfect Union" speech; (3) Obama's election to the presidency; and (4) the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Gates. The parameters of these pivotal discourses allowed me to focus on what bloggers say about the events and how the newspapers reported them. Ideological criticism and framing analysis guided my study on racial identifications and negotiations related to Obama from three newspapers: New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Sun-Times; as well as four blogs: Mixed Roots, Beige-World, Light-skinned-ed Girl, and Twisted Curlz. Three dominant frames emerged from the news coverage on the four discursive moments: race, dialogue, and history. I define the race frame as stories about the issues concerning race and racism; the dialogue frame as stories about a conversation, specifically at the national level; and the historical frame as stories about historic events. Three frames also emerged from the framing analysis of the blog posts: awareness, personalization, and racism. The awareness frame consists of postings about news and celebrity in mixed race community; the personalization frame as personal postings; and the racism frame as postings relating to issues concerning racism. Ideological criticism facilitated the analysis of the news articles and blogs and allowed me to uncover several ideologies about race and mixed race emerge from these discursive constructions. The newspapers perpetuated the invisibility of Whiteness, the Black and White binary, hybrid heroism, and the erasure of racism ideologies. The preference for Obama as President, the salience of mixed race matters, and promotion of anti-racist work are ideologies in the blogs. While the blogs and news articles are different in format, style and purpose, taken together they give a look at the ongoing conversation that impacts discourses on race, racism, and mixed race. The interpretation of the findings explains how the media I examined reveal the social construction of race, the rhetoric of race, and agenda setting in each of the discursive moments in order to discuss current conceptualizations of race in the United States. In addition to an in-depth interpretation of framing and ideological analyses findings, the theoretical and methodological contributions are discussed.




Mixed Race, Ideology, Framing, Obama

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Schuetz, Janice

First Committee Member (Chair)

Foss, Karen

Second Committee Member

Rodriguez, Ilia

Third Committee Member

Lopez, Nancy