The use of popular media in multicultural education: Stressing implications for the Black/non-Black biracial North American student

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Robert Maribe Branch


Popular media, Multicultural, Black/non-Black, Biracial, North American

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Instructional Media Design | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Instructor usage of popular media in the classroom has spawned studies on the impact of the visual image on minority populations. These studies range from examining the effects of films as role models on the self-concepts of Black elementary school children (Dimas, 1970), to Black college women's persistence in viewing a popular television show in which none of the cast members were Black (Strother, 1994). This study is the first to examine the effects of classroom usage of popular media on populations that are racially "in the middle"--biracial individuals. Moreover, it is believed that popular media recommended for use with Blacks may be used with these individuals to reify the notion that the world's population can be categorized into five socially-constructed groups called race. Lastly, a thorough examination of the relevant literature reveals that no models or paradigms of multicultural education specifically address the educational needs of biracial persons.

This study, through the use of unstructured and semi-structured qualitative interviews with 15 informants, seeks to discover how parental and cultural influences aid in the formation of a racial identity. The study is also concerned with the informants' views on whether or how multicultural education served their educational needs. This study also attempts to discover how this marginalized population has responded to the use of popular media in multicultural education.

This study concludes that, although biracial persons have their own process of racial self-definition that is unique to them, society views them as Blacks. Parents and cultural influences greatly affect the biracial process of racial identification. Such influences minimize the effects of media on the biracial formation of a self-image. Media images, however, enable others to harbor perceptions of biracial persons based on essentialized notions of race and culture.

Such essentialized notions permeate educational structures, and thwart efforts at multicultural education. These efforts further marginalize biracial people by forcing them into rigid racial categories and by providing stereotypical images of those races when using popular media to further instructional goals.

This study should provide recommendations for popular media use in diverse fields, such as education, communication, and media studies.


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