Commodifying People, Commodifying Narratives: Toward a Critical Race Media Literacy

In: The International Journal of Critical Media Literacy

In this article the authors make an argument for a critical race media literacy that is attuned to the ways in which popular media are used to adhere media consumers to a taken for granted US national identity. Using the concept of “black narrative commodities”, the article suggests that black pain and/or black visibility become filters through which black lives are brought into a nationalist framing. The article uses three popular media commodities to illustrate how how pain and visibility mask a nationalist agenda, including: (1) the videotaped killing of Eric Garner, (2) the book The New Jim Crow and the film 13th: An Original Netflix Documentary, and (3) the movie Black Panther. The authors suggest that critical media literacy absent a cogent and principled interrogation of the interplay between race, class, and the nation-State is incomplete.

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