Recontextualizing the Racial Present: Intertextuality and the Politics of Online Remembering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Remembering is never an end in its own right, but a means of asserting power and legitimizing social hierarchies. Thus, voices that seek to interpret the past in contradictory ways are often silenced (Zelizer, 1995). No part of the U.S. past is more called upon to legitimize contemporary racial relations than the Civil Rights Movement, which is constructed as the end of the nation's systemic racism. Institutionalized racism is thereby relegated to history. Troubling aspects of the past that might lead citizens to interpret the contemporary U.S. as anything other than an egalitarian meritocracy are erased or rendered ideologically safe. This article examines how the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM), one of the largest contemporary Black Nationalist organizations in the U.S., uses its website to challenge the notion of a "post-racial" U.S. by undermining the history upon which this conception is built. The MXGM's website recontextualizes contemporary events within marginalized accounts of the past to decrease the temporal distance between the racism of the past and present racial politics, constructing an uninterrupted historical continuum of racial oppression. This recontextualization process is reinforced at the structural level of the website through the inherently intertextual nature of hypertext.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)314-326
Number of pages13
JournalCritical Studies in Media Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Black Nationalism
  • Cultural Memory
  • Intertextuality
  • Websites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication


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