What Does Race Have
to Do with Ugly Betty?
An Analysis of Privilege and Postracial(?)
Representations on a Television Sitcom
by Jennifer Esposito (Georgia State University, Atlanta)
This article examines aBC’s television comedy Ugly Betty, in particular one episode
that explores race-based affirmative action decisions and quotas, to argue that race and
racial categories are ever more present in our society and that they need to be. asserting
how and in what ways race “matters” is important in a social and political climate that
often suggests race dare not speak its name. Circulating within sociology and education
discourse is the notion of a “color-blind society” (meaning that we no longer see color
or that the color of one’s skin will not determine his or her life chances). This idea has
been has been recently redefined by the media as “postracial” (meaning that we have
moved beyond race and that race no longer structures our thinking or our actions).
either discourse silences talk of racial privilege and disadvantage. as a discursive
racial project, the Ugly Betty text helps reify notions of race and difference. (download)