Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Communication Studies


Communication Studies

First Reader/Committee Chair

Gallegos, Liliana


This study analyzes the representations of five bi-ethnic women characters in U.S. mass media both before and after U.S. “post-racial” era, to find and expose evidence of the continuity and perpetuation of racist stereotypes against biracial/bi-ethnic women. I utilize a thematic textual analysis, supported by the theories, ideas, and critical views of postcolonial theorists Frantz Fanon, Gayatri Spivak, and Edward Said, and composed of three prominent themes which expose the nature of the representations of lead bi-ethnic characters in current mass media entertainment (TV programs and films). The themes further explored through this project are: bi-ethnicity (one Black parent and one White parent) as a) over exoticized or hypersexualized; b) inherently problematic; and c) destined for non-existence through invisibility, elimination, and even death. In a second step, I critically examine the theme of the tragic mulatta present in Imitation of Life (Hunder & Sirk, 1959), a film released during the epoch of the African-American Civil Rights Movement (1954-68), and the TV mini-series Alex Haley’s Queen (1993) to then highlight how it becomes immortalized transmedia (across diverse media platforms and historical moments) and ever-present in current “post-racial era” entertainment media film. To examine this, I compared one modern film and that portrayed a leading bi-ethnic woman–Dear White People (2014)– to then compare to the film mentioned above. I then compared TV programs that portray supporting bi-ethnic women characters in Suits (2011), Black-ish (2014), and Empire (2015) to then compare to the TV miniseries mentioned above. Finally, I contend that the presence of transmedia storytelling of the fixation, and manipulation of the supposed political correctness of the tragic mulatta archetype stands to reinforce its dominance in media portrayals. Moreover, the fragmentary existence is based on a lack of research and the indolent borrowing from previous archetypes.