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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Mixed Race Mouse: Discovering Mixed Race Identity in Disney Channel Programs from High School Musical to K.C. Undercover

  • Author(s): Larson, Paloma Miya
  • et al.

Turn on any action film or drive past a highway billboard, mixed race bodies frequent the media that Americans readily consume. Nevertheless, few scholars investigate the social impact of mixed race representation on such mediums as television. Ignoring multiracial presence in the media allows producers of television programs to shape and construct expectations that are projected onto the mixed race community. My paper contributes to mixed race scholarship by evaluating these projected expectations in pursuit of encouraging readers to seek out authentic representations of the mixed race experience. This paper answers two questions regarding mixed race representation. First, how has the entertainment industry constructed mixed race identity on television? Second, has that identity construction mitigated the demand for diversification and multiculturalism on screen, while simultaneously ignoring the unique discriminatory experiences lived by the mixed race community in the United States? Disney Channel serves as a case study for my research. To evaluate multiracial representation on Disney Channel, I performed a textual and visual analysis on four television programs featuring mixed race actors. I then categorized each mixed race actor as multiracial African American, multiracial Asian American, or multiracial Latino American and compared the identity construction of each character. My analysis indicates that Disney Channel uses mixed race actors and their respective characters to encourage an ideology of racial transcendence and colorblindness which dangerously erases and ignores any history of racial prejudice and discrimination.


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