Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Reader 1

James Morrison

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This paper critically examines the intersectionality of race, gender, and sexuality within the context of mainstream media, focusing specifically on the portrayal of Black queerness. Balancing the scope of prevailing heteronormative structures, this study explores the nuanced ways in which media constructs and perpetuates images of Black individuals. Utilizing a multidisciplinary approach, my research combines aspects of critical race theory, queer theory, media studies, with a focus in film and photography, to approach an analysis of the complex interplay between identity, power, and representation in mainstream media throughout history. Focusing on the distinct ways in which the foundations of media representation of Black individuals is rooted in power dynamics, agency, and reclamation.

My exploration begins to unfold through a comprehensive review of existing literature incorporating both historical perspectives and contemporary analyses. The early historical examination of Black individuals in film and photography serves as a lens to understand the nuances of identity construction, agency, and representation. Through the process of immersing myself in these early historical works, my study displays ways in which Black queer artists navigate their identities in the face of mainstream expectations and societal norms. Working on the basis that centers the intricate and pervasive mechanisms in the heteronormative system of oppression, I explore how the evolving representation of Black individuals in mainstream media lay a foundation for understanding the significance of Black queer expression and representation. Through an intense process of both critique and advocacy, this paper unfolds to display the more nuanced and inclusive portrayal of Black individuals in mainstream media to explore contemporary representations of Black queer individuals in mainstream media.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.