Herman Gray is a professor of sociology at UC Santa Cruz and has published widely in the areas of black cultural theory, politics, and media.
Inspired by and named for a 1982 exhibition of racist memorabilia at the Berkeley Art Center, the Emmy Award–winning Ethnic Notions “became one of Riggs’s most important works because of its direct approach to an unpopular but important subject: cultural racism and its psychological impact on the development of race and race relations in America,” curator Rhea Combs writes. “Riggs’s thorough and detailed analysis of the origins of racial images through an examination of material culture was disturbing yet extremely informative for a mass audience unfamiliar with how racial stereotypes have deeply influenced the formation of identities.”
Marlon Riggs, United States, 1992
A sequel of sorts to Ethnic Notions, “the Peabody Award–winning documentary Color Adjustment was the first substantial work to examine the relationship between network TV and race consciousness. Riggs meticulously tracks the optimism of the Civil Rights struggle and television’s inability to challenge its own role in maintaining a blanched version of the American Dream” (Steve Seid).