Mixed-Race Politics: Bill de Blasio’s 2013 New York City Mayoral Campaign

Mixed-Race Politics: Bill de Blasio’s 2013 New York City Mayoral Campaign

University of Michigan
Haven Hall, Room 4701
505 State Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Monday, 2016-03-14, 17:30 CDT (Local Time)

Michelle May-Curry
American Culture

Please join the Black Humanities Collective as we workshop a presentation by Michelle May-Curry, a doctoral student in American Culture. Dinner will be served. Though RSVP’s are not required, they are encouraged. Graduate students, undergraduates, and faculty in and outside of the humanities are welcomed to attend.

This paper investigates the ways in which multicultural rhetoric situates black-white mixed-race individuals and their families as a bridge between disparate groups and ideologies. Using Bill de Blasio’s New York City Mayoral campaign in 2013 as a case study, I highlight specific media moments in which de Blasio’s children and his interracial marriage to a black woman are deployed as symbols of political (and by extension, racial) futurity. The key questions of this paper ask: How was mixed-race as a symbol deployed in the de Blasio campaign, particularly in the context of the family? What specifically did mixed-race symbolize in this political sphere? Did de Blasio’s family fight back against essentialized multicultural ideals or simply deploy them to capture the minority vote? In answering these questions I conduct a close reading of de Blasio’s well-known TV advertisement featuring his then 15-year-old son Dante, and put it in conversation with persistent racisms in the form of police brutality, an issue that was central to de Blasio’s campaign. This work engages topics at the intersection of critical mixed-race studies, performance studies, and visual culture, drawing upon and contesting current research that places mixed-race people at the forefront of a changing American demographic and political climate.

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