Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Black for a DayWhite Fantasies of Race and Empathy$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Alisha Gaines

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469632834

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469632834.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Empathy TV

Empathy TV

Family and Racial Intimacy on Black.White.

(p.121) Chapter Four Empathy TV
Black for a Day

Alisha Gaines

University of North Carolina Press

The fourth chapter takes on the televisual rescripting of Sprigle, Griffin, and Halsell with a reading of the FX cable series, Black.White., a 2006 reality television show where two middle class families—one black and one white—“switched” races to experience racial difference. This chapter attends to how Black.White. moves the genealogy of empathetic racial impersonation from the theatrical stage, newspaper, trade books, and film to the visual logics of television. This shift reveals an investment in empathetic racial impersonation at a moment dominated by the changing discourses about race and race relations in the 21st century. Importantly, this chapter expands discussions of racial experimentation beyond the U.S. South. Set in Los Angeles, this “reality” show spuriously reinscribes the black/white binary even though Los Angeles has long been recognized as a multiracial city. By focusing on the fraught relationship between the two families, this chapter contends that Black.White. dramatically exposes the limits of empathetic racial experimentation as a tool of racial reconciliation. Ultimately, it evidences an empathetic failure in the cross-racial promise supposedly demonstrated by this seemingly new, but ultimately decades old, impersonation experiment. It also considers the histories and politics of whiteface.

Keywords:   reality television, Black.White, cross-racial intimacy, facial reconciliation, whiteface

North Carolina Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .