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In Light Of Last Night's Steamy 'Scandal' Sex Scenes, Revisiting TV's 1st Interracial Kiss Between A White Man & A Black Woman

Television
by Courtney
December 7, 2012 11:05 AM
35 Comments
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In light of last night's steamy episode of Scandal, as we saw Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope and Tony Goldwyn as Fitzgerald "Fitz" Grant heated up our TV screens with one or two scenes that made some of us wonder how they got past network TV censors, and also because it's Friday, I thought I'd take us back about 44 years, to the November 22, 1968 Star Trek episode titled Plato's Stepchildren, which is popularly-cited as the first example of a scripted kiss between a white man and black woman on American television (between Kirk and Uhura).

I couldn't help but make connections between the two, as I wondered just how far TV (and this country) has come (even though we still have a very long way to go, in terms of race-relations, and what is *acceptable* TV these days, and maybe even banal, compared to 1968, when the now-history-making Star Trek episode aired).

Although I'm sure there were people on both sides of the aisle (white and black) who watched last night's episode and cringed at the site of what we could say were unusual (for network TV) sex scenes between a white man and a black woman. That is if they even watch the show; the thought of an interracial romance likely turned them off from the start. 

And let's not even get into the reverse, as in, imagine if this were between a black man and a white woman. Would that even make it on screen? Is America (or maybe more specifically, Hollywood) more tolerant of interracial romance between white men and women of color (not just black women), than they are of interracial romance between men of color (not just black men) and white women? What we see on screen tells the tale. But you guys can discuss.

However, what I really wanted to draw your attention to was this 10-minute long video in which Nichelle Nichols talks at length about shooting that now famous kissing scene with William Shatner. I actually wasn't aware of all that she says in the video in terms of just how it all went down, the director's interference, Shatner's insistence, and Nichols' frustrations. 

It's definitely worth watching and listening to if you're not alreay familiar with it all.

But first, here's the sequence with the kiss; and underneath you'll find Nichelle Nichols' recounting of the set when the scene was shot:

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35 Comments

  • j | February 2, 2013 2:07 AMReply

    How could a black women be proud of being just a sex object
    in
    these racist white folks movies and shows. Thats just so naive
    of black women to act as if nothings wrong. No value at all for black women.
    They just stand for any and everything for a buck. Are black women that
    easy? As long as you keep letting this ride (black women) you'll never get the respect you
    deserve.You'll just keep being a white mans tool that can use any time he wants to use you

  • mawon | February 2, 2013 8:44 AM

    Found the nigga with an ankh!

  • Connie Bradford | December 13, 2012 9:54 AMReply

    I heard the Scandal Season finale isn't coming on Tonight, Dec, 13, 2012- Say it isn't so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • scotty | December 8, 2012 11:45 PMReply

    The Cw's "Arrow" has a positive relationship between a black man and white woman. The Cw's "Hart of Dixie" also just started a relationship between two black characters (Cress Williams & Golden Brooks).

  • Kid chaos | December 8, 2012 5:10 PMReply

    Every time a woman of color is on major Tv she is with a white man.Tell me one show on major tv where a black man is with a black woman

  • Geneva Girl | December 10, 2012 3:44 AM

    Community: Yvette Nicole Brown's character is married to Malcolm Jamal Warner's character. Guys with Kids: Anthony Anderson and Tempestt Bledsoe. And, that's off the top of my head.

  • BeautyIAM | December 9, 2012 10:56 PM

    Do you date Kid Chaos?? I really wish you would get out there and meet a woman you love and adore as opposed to constantly always commenting about how much you don't like BW dating outside their race. You constantly coming on here and whining about this topic is just a little pathetic at this point. No one cares that you or any person doesn't like who they date. As far as your question...that's why I love BlackandSexy on youtube. We are not going to get decent representation of black couples on a major network television that is well written and more than one dimensional.

  • karla | December 9, 2012 2:51 PM

    so.... I'm a black woman and I don't have a problem with it...

  • Orville | December 8, 2012 4:32 PMReply

    I don't mind seeing black women with white men but then again I am gay. I imagine, for some heterosexual black men they might be jealous I suppose to see beautiful black women having sex with white men on television. I'm all for it to be honest. On Meagan Good's new show I think called Deception coming out in January 2013 her love interest is a white guy. I like it that we get to see black women with white men. Why can't a black woman be the one men of all races desire? Why should a black actress only have a black male love interest. Some of the most attractive black women in Hollywood working today have had several IR roles such as Kerry Washington, and of course Gabrielle Union her new film In Our Nature her love interest is a white man.

    Has Courtney ever watched 90210 on the CW Network? The very attractive black male actor Tristan Wilds his character Dixon has had several interracial relationships with white women. And on the soap opera General Hospital there is a teen interracial romance between a white girl Molly and a black boy TJ. So there are indeed television shows that are showing interracial romance with a black male and a white female. Although, I do notice these are programs for young people and perhaps younger people are more accepting of IR relationships than older people.

  • ALM | December 8, 2012 5:54 AMReply

    Nichelle Nichols is gorgeous!

  • AccidentalVisitor | December 7, 2012 10:26 PMReply

    Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this, Courtney. And I applaud your writeup for even touching the topic regarding this lack of balance. It hasn't been discussed enough when IR in the media in general is brought up. But let me point out that TV has been far better in displaying IR than Hollywood movies have been this is even in the case when the interracial couple is a BM/WW. Actually primetime and cable TV has been more open to this type of couple, daytime TV on the other hand has been far less likely to pair a black guy with a white woman.

  • lauren | December 7, 2012 7:53 PMReply

    Blah Blah Blah... Scandal is great!!! Can't wait till next week's show!

  • karla | December 9, 2012 2:53 PM

    you said it

  • Agent K | December 7, 2012 6:49 PMReply

    You know what, this article and some of the comments justifies my prejudice against IR relationships. Well not the relationships themselves but the romanticizing of IR pairings. "We all know that IR happen between black men and non black women in the real world". Talk about desperate. Who fucking cares which one is doing it more? I know people are gonna do what they do but damn.

  • BeautyIAM | December 9, 2012 11:01 PM

    Dude, you mad? Hahaha. Proof....lol.....you must not live in Amerika if you want proof of that number.

  • turner | December 9, 2012 9:26 AM

    @ Agent K-Your logic is twisted and knotted... Life isn't too short?? Why do most people faced with death, unless they're wracked with excruciating pain, wish they had more of it? If a IR couple sees each other as MLK said: "By the content of their character, not the color of their skin" then they're by your estimation, justifying a prejudice?????? And their romance shouldn't be romanticized? Your preference being tragic portrayals only? Who'd you vote for? Cause in your world our president would be a romantic icon for IR dogma. Oh, his parents broke up, so it's ok then.

  • Agent K | December 8, 2012 9:50 PM

    @Lauren You know what, life is too short if you choose to believe that. And what about the IR dogma of "race doesn't exist"? But I digress, I will backtrack and say I dislike the romanticizing of IR relationships and not the relationships themselves. It's not progression or a setback it's just here for the time being. And yes a person can justify a prejudice no matter how small. IR couples do it all the time.

  • lauren | December 8, 2012 8:06 AM

    Love and attraction are naturally possible between all humans, unfortunately prejudice and bitter racism obscure that fact for a lot of folks mired in dogma and hurt that they choose to deny that. Nothing "justifies" prejudice; life is too damn short!

  • Christopher T. | December 8, 2012 7:25 AM

    @Beautyiam, If its so natural. Why is it alway only black shows that have IR? Its rare to see a White show having longtime IR. You have to ask yourself how long will the show be popular if they decide to show a BM and BW relationship?

  • Agent K | December 7, 2012 9:34 PM

    @Beautyiam Also my prejudice against IR pairing is from both the black male and black female perspective.

  • Agent K | December 7, 2012 9:29 PM

    @Beautyiam I would to see the proof. If successful I'll shut up. If not spare me the bullshit.

  • BeautyIAM | December 7, 2012 7:22 PM

    Oh Agent K...please. What I stated is true. Don't use my comment to justify your prejudice against something that is very natural.

  • FactChecker | December 7, 2012 3:46 PMReply

    The bigger takeaway for me, in last night's episode, is that both character's did touch on the complexity of the relationship, both as it related to and doesn't relate to race. When Oliva made the Sally Hemings Jefferson remark. More than any other writer/ producer -- in recent memory for me -- Shondra Rhimes makes an effort to address the racial aspects of this relationship, which are real and important. Several members of my family are in IR marriages, and I can tell you, from experience, that race remains a HUGE issue in our society. Anyone who has read, extensively, about our nation's history, but also read about IR relations between other groups -- most notably Asian men and women who marry whites -- would have a much broader understanding of this topic and not dismiss Courtney's blog about last night's episode. Also, Lawrence, if you truly understood how Hollywood and the egos of the white male patriarchial hierarchy work then you wouldn't have asked such a ridiculous question.

  • karla | December 9, 2012 2:55 PM

    who cares what he thinks

  • Lawrence | December 7, 2012 4:55 PM

    FACTCHECKER I wasn't asking a question I was making a comment as a filmmaker who has dedicated himself to portray men and women of color in positive and constructive illuminations. I actually understand white male ego's and insecurities all too well. So perhaps next time you should do a better job at "checking" your "facts" before you decide to call out someone in your rant. ;-)

  • Jessica | December 7, 2012 1:57 PMReply

    You know, the fact that you wrote this article means we actually haven't come that far. When people like you stop making a big deal out of interracial relationships, THEN we'll have come a long way. Get some real writing material, idiot.

  • BeautyIAM | December 7, 2012 12:02 PMReply

    "To quote another commentor, people only see their oppression, and never their privilege." Yup, just waiting to see the number of folks complaining and crying. LOL. Nevermind the fact that we all know IR happen more between BM and non black women in the real world. I would love to see all unions represented equally because it would represent what we see in real life. Also, with Shonda, she isn't afraid of putting IR couples together. She's done it a lot on Greys and Private Practice. So people need to just stop.

  • Lawrence | December 7, 2012 11:25 AMReply

    It still amazes me how in 2012 its still more acceptable to see intimacy between a whit man and a black woman in TV and movies than a black man and a white woman. The white man is always potrayed as the hero knight in shining armor coming to save the black woman ie "Something New", "The Bodyguard" ect and the in films where the black man is a white woman's love interest its forbidden, dangerous and taboo. Sad.

  • jessie | December 9, 2012 2:57 PM

    we are everywhere.. on tv and off... interracial couples are here to stay and all those that don't like it knows where they can go...

  • AccidentalVisitor | December 7, 2012 11:32 PM

    Andrea, this season alone were you somehow not aware of 666 Park Avenue, Shameless, Parenthood, Weeds (one of the sons had a black girlfriend this year), Park & Recreation and Revenge? They all had a pairing of white men and black women. Of course shows come and go and characters come and go. Last season you could have added Californication to that list and before that you could have included Hawthorne., etc. And I don't see your point regarding black male characters in science fiction shows. Outside of possibly "Fringe" which I have not seen in years I can't think of any examples. Meanwhile on the SyFy network, which is/was dedicated to science fiction TV, you had shows such as Battlestar Galactica, Eureka and Being Human, all of which had black females who have been paired, exclusively, with white men. I can't think of any equivalent black male characters in sci fi TV who are shacking up only with white women. But if I'm wrong on this front please let me know.

  • AccidentalVisitor | December 7, 2012 11:15 PM

    BondGirl, throwing "Flight" in as some example to disprove Lawrence's point is as dumb as saying that "Fast Five" proves that Asian guys get paired up with white women as much as white men are paired on screen with Asian women (for those who didn't see that film....the Asian guy surprisingly got the girl). We are talking about peanuts here. True, "Flight" was a step forward simply by not being afraid, as a Hollywood studio mainstream movie directed at a mainstream audience, in pairing a black man (who was the lead) with a white female co-star. And it did so without making a big deal out of it (in part becauase the role was originally written for a white man). That is progress especially when you consider the film has made money and that no theaters showing it have been burned down. But let's be clear: this one film does not match the far more numerous Hollywood flicks (not including independent films) in which there WM and BW are paired up in one form or another. And no I don't have to go 20 years back simply to come up with examples. There are plenty of more recent ones. Things We Lost In the Fire. The Losers. Lakeview Terrace. Die Another Day. RocknRolla. Star Trek. Fantastic Four. Cloud Atlas. Hit & Run. Colombiana. Cadillac Records. Cloverfield. The Words. Ten Years. I'm just going off the top of my head and mainly sticking with a select few actresses who stand out. I know I'm missing a few but it wold be still be more than the number of mainstream films anyone can come up with BM/WW during that same time. Granted a couple of the films I used as examples did not have extensive screen time dedicated to the relationships of WM/BW couples but then again it isn't as if the interracial relationship in 'Flight" dominates the movie's screentime either. And going back to "Flight" so many moviegoers were even surprised that Denzel's character was to have a relationship with a white female (or any female) because none of the advertisements hinted at it. In the trailers and in the commercials there wasn't even one quick clip of Denzel and the actress (Kelly Reilly) in the same shot. This is unthinkable if the male lead is a white star. Trailers never fail to reveal such info when a white male star has a relationship or any physical contact with the prominent female in the film.

  • Afrofemme | December 7, 2012 4:52 PM

    I agree. It is pretty evident that the BW/WM thing has exploded on TV. It was simmering below the surface in the 90s on those teen shows but now it's like they're going all out (Hollywood/Primetime) with it. And yes, it does not portray American reality. It is all over TV and film now, then again it always has been. Just not as explicitly as nowadays. Commercials and comic books as well.

  • Lawrence | December 7, 2012 4:49 PM

    Sigh, where do I begin? Bondgirl. Denzels character was an addict and so was his LATINO girlfriend at the beginning and his white girfriend later and yes Bondgirl House of Lies and Luther shows a Cheadle and Elba having had been married to white women but if you watched those shows then you would know those relationships were depicted as toxic and dysfunctional and yes Andrea Happy Endings is one of the shows a POSITIVE IIR between a black man and white woman, never watched 90210 because of the lack of diversity and as far as Disney goes...well its children s programming ;-) Anyway, if you ladies took the time to just understand where I was coming from instead of immediately getting so defensive you would have known that I was not saying that black men being involved with white women did not happen on film and TV, I said that usually when it does happen its depicted as NEGATIVE ie there is something wrong with either the man or the woman or something is trying to stop them from being together, are thee exceptions? Of course, Happy Endings is one of them however what I am speaking on is how Hollywood loves to portray the black woman as needy, desperate and the white man is the only man that can save her and the black mans love is wrought with turmoil and pain. Also, racial stereotypes knows no time so whether it happened 20 years ago or 20 minutes of does not make a difference in the grand scheme of things ladies, these images hurt black women just as much as they hurt black men.

  • Andrea | December 7, 2012 1:05 PM

    BONDGIRL left out Beverly Hills 90210, Happy Endings, every single Disney Channel show with a Black guy on it, all the SyFy shows with BM characters as well. the list goes on. And this is NOW, today, not 20+ years ago. The only other network tv show with a BW/WM couple is a comedy about aliens trying to learn about Human culture. And since they're aliens disguised as Humans, they're not really an IRR couple. Lol.

  • bondgirl | December 7, 2012 11:39 AM

    Sigh. Funny how you bring up examples from 20 YEARS AGO. I guess you didn't see Flight, when a white woman's ass crack was front and center in front of Denzel at the opening scene. Or House of Lies. Or Luther. Let's not talk about how Denzel's love interests have gotten lighter/whiter with each film, because black women will face gaslighting. To quote another commentor, people only see their oppression, and never their privilege. I have more to say, but gotta run.

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