Buggs, Shantel G. and Ryessia Jones Russell. 2019. “Disciplining Olivia Pope: Family, Gender, and the Power of Whiteness” in Gladiators in Suits: Race, Gender, and the Politics of Representation in Scandal, edited by Kimberly Moffitt, Simone Puff, and Ron Jackson. Syracuse University Press.
While much of the discussion regarding race and gender in Scandal is reserved for its portrayal of interracial relationships – specifically the sexual relationship triangle between Olivia Pope, President Fitzgerald Grant, and Jake Ballard – the majority of Olivia’s interactions are informed by, and enacted through, whiteness. Olivia has relationships with White men, wears the “white hat,” associates mostly with White colleagues, and consistently uses her resources to save the careers and lives of White political figures. This essay explores the ways in which whiteness emerges in the television show, Scandal, a scripted show created by Shonda Rhimes and starring Kerry Washington, both Black women. More specifically, this chapter reveals how whiteness is utilized as a mechanism for policing and disciplining the Black female body, specifically through an analysis of Olivia’s relationships with Fitz, Jake, Mellie Grant, Abby Whelan, and Olivia’s father, Rowan (Eli) Pope. All of these relationships utilize whiteness in a different way; thus, we will use them as a means of exploring three forms of discipline: (a) sexual discipline, (b) familial/child discipline, and (c) gender discipline. Though none of these forms of discipline are mutually exclusive – as all of them are sexualized, racialized, classed, and gendered – by breaking these disciplinary forms into categories, we can focus on particular aspects of Olivia’s relationships and how they work to constrain her behavior, her body, and her identity, as well as how those constraints might be translated onto the bodies of the Black women who comprise the major part of the show’s audience.
Buggs, Shantel G. 2017. “Does (mixed-)race matter? The role of race in interracial sex, dating, and marriage.” Sociology Compass, 11(11).
Though sociologists have long focused on the role of race as a dynamic in romantic and sexual relationships, there is currently limited research on the experiences of mixed-race people and the ways their racial identities may be influencing how people navigate race and/or ethnicity as part of these intimate relationships. Due to the increase in the number of Americans – both in opposite-sex and same-sex relationships – reporting partners of a different race or ethnic background between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, race and intimacy remain at the forefront of mainstream social concerns. However, research exploring how multiracial people – a rapidly growing population – fit in these trends is underrepresented. In this review, I discuss the existing research on race, dating, and marriage, particularly the meanings attached to interracial relationships in an online era. I also assess how recent research has begun to discuss the impact of mixed-race identity on intimate relationships both on- and off-line.
Buggs, Shantel G. 2017. “Dating in the Time of #BlackLivesMatter: Exploring Mixed-race women’s Discourses of Race and Racism.” Sociology of Race & Ethnicity, 3(4); 538-551.
The author explores the discourses and logics that self-identified multiracial and multiethnic female online daters use to explain their own responses to social justice movements around race and racism in the United States. These women mobilize stances on the social movement Black Lives Matter (BLM) as a metric of racial progressiveness, articulating their own political views on race. Furthermore, mixed-black women in particular describe using attitudes toward the BLM movement as a way to vet potential dating partners. The implementation of BLM as a tool in the contemporary dating “toolkit” suggests that the language around, and produced by, social movements (in terms of mainstream media coverage) influences the ways in which some women discuss race, gender, and racism. Using interview data from 30 in-depth interviews, the author shows how mixed-race women navigate racial politics on an interpersonal level during a time when U.S. media and popular culture is focused on issues of racism and state-sanctioned violence. The use of BLM as a rhetorical frame demonstrates how far the logics of colorblindness and antiblackness extend into everyday life and serves as a signifier of where individuals stand on significant social issues. By analyzing the ways multiracial women talk about dating, the author provides a greater understanding of the shifting meanings of race, racism, and the “postracial” in contemporary American society.
* Featured in the “In Brief” section (“How the Fight for Black Lives Colors Dating“) in Contexts.
Daniels, Jessie, Apryl Williams, and Shantel Buggs (eds). 2017. “Digital media technologies in everyday life.” Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology (CITAMS) Special Issue, Information, Communication & Society, 20(7); 947-1023.
The 2017 CITAMS special issue of Information, Communication & Society brings together research that takes us several steps further along the path to understanding the imbrication of digital technologies with the social, the cultural, and the political in a global context. These articles foreground the theoretical and methodological innovation so characteristic of the Communication, Information Technologies, and Media Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association (ASA), including the new focus on media sociology.
Buggs, Shantel G. 2017. “‘Your momma is day-glow white’: questioning the politics of racial identity, loyalty, and obligation.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, 24(4); 379-397.
This article utilizes discourse analysis and an autoethnographic approach to explore the impact of U.S. racial and ethnic categorization on the experiences of an individual marked as ‘mixed-race’ in terms of individual identity and familial/cultural group loyalty and obligation(s). This essay focuses on an incidence of public policing through the popular social networking platform Facebook, centering on the invocation of racial obligation by white friends and family members. I analyze how racial loyalty is articulated by friends and family members in their posts on my personal Facebook page and how this ‘loyalty’ is used as means of regulating my mixed-race identity performance. This essay aims to understand several things, namely how identity is mediated through the invocation of racial obligation and how tension around identity plays out in the multiracial family.