Crafting a Sense of Unity

Interest Convergence in Oklahoma City Public Schools

Paul D.C. Bones

However, in these instances, it is often the elites who ultimately profit while real stakeholders see little change. Critical Race
Theory suggests that white elites use the mass media to shape discourse on important issues to achieve their goals. This descriptive discourse analysis examines how elites in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, one of the most segregated school systems in the United States
employed agenda setting and framing to essentially convince whites to support a bond measure aimed at improving a segregated, inner city school. Drawing on articles from The Daily Oklahoman, the city’s only major newspaper. I find that support for the plan was framed in a message of unity while challenges were primarily framed as tax avoidance. Race was largely kept out of the debate, but was occasionally systematically employed to silence opposition to the measure. The lack of racial discourse reflects colourblind discourse and represents a form of framing that aided elites in passing a measure that would raise Oklahoma City’s national profile.

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