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Lupita, Michael, and the Future of Black Romance in Film

Features
by Nijla Mumin
February 19, 2014 12:30 PM
41 Comments
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The other night, I came across a photograph of actress Lupita Nyong’o and actor Michael B. Jordan together on Twitter, with the caption: “A romantic comedy we’d all love to see.” Several users commented, and retweeted it. The actors' beautiful brown faces burst from the image, and I became excited in a rare way.   

I immediately thought of their faces together in a profile shot, natural light falling onto their skin as they embrace by a window or near a lake. I thought of an argument between them that ends in a kiss, or the dreaded obstacles that stop them from being together. And what about their first date at a popular diner, then dancing afterward, or maybe swimming? The thought of Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o dancing together in a film makes me happy. It makes me happy because I don’t see many love stories like this.

Black moviegoers often speak of Theodore Witcher’s romantic drama, Love Jones, as an example of the classic black love story. Is there no contemporary equivalent to this film, and does there need to be?  When black love is made mainstream, I am often encouraged to laugh at it. In Think Like A Man, when Morris Chestnut's character unexpectedly pulls up in a Benz after Michael Ealy pulls off in that broke-down hooptie, I was in stitches. There is nothing wrong with laughter, and good comedy is priceless. But what if we want to laugh, cry, and think, in one sitting? What if I want to be made uncomfortable sometimes, through shot duration, moody lighting, or silence? What if the form of black love films could be expanded? 

I think of some of the best love stories, like Jane Campion’s film The Piano, and how Ada ran through the murky New Zealand forest in muted grays and thick fog, to be with Baines. An unfamiliar lust and passion overcame them, and a beautiful union was forged. I also think of more recent films like Terence Nance’s An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, and how Nance’s adoration of Namik formed a surreal, enchanted cross-genre blend of animation, live action, and sound that channels the feeling of wanting and not being wanted in return.

I think of Ava DuVernay’s film Middle of Nowhere, and of Emayatzy Corinealdi as Ruby, a brown-skinned woman with a round face, fierce eyes, and an expectation for her husband’s eventual release from prison. She looked different than many of the black female leads I’d seen, and this excited me because I look different than many of the images I constantly ingest. She was a reflection of black women we don’t see, women who come home from work, tired, and sit in a dark room, or go to sleep in the middle of the day.  There was a lived-in quality to these scenes, and to this character.

In just about every public appearance, Lupita Nyong’o astonishes the world with her smile, humility, physical beauty, her cropped haircut, dashing gowns, and her smooth, dark brown skin. She is not the black female protagonist I see in mainstream films, and it’s because of this, that she’s needed there. Aside from talent, a large part of any romantic genre film, has to do with the look of its lead actors. As viewers, we want to fall in love too. Who wouldn’t want to look at Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B. Jordan for two hours? Is that even a question?

Both actors have stepped into the spotlight for humanizing characters on the bottom rungs of society. Oscar Grant was an unfaithful boyfriend and loving father killed on New Years Eve, while Patsey, a female field-hand, picked more cotton than any man, but faced constant brutality from the plantation owner. Both roles required total commitment to the vulnerability in these heavily contested spaces, and both performances aroused audience emotion, causing us to wonder about Patsey and Oscar Grant for days and months afterward, and to leave the theater with a full heart. Can you imagine what they could do in a love story?

So, will we ever see this film? I hope so. And, what would be the obstacles to getting it made? The same systemic obstacles that prevent any Octavia Butler novels from being adapted into films, or kept Theodore Witcher from making another film after Love Jones. The same reasons that prompted Viola Davis to speak about the lack of roles offered to her, and why certain young, talented actresses like Adepero Oduye and Emayatzy Corinealdi, aren’t racking up roles left and right like their white counterparts. 

It’s difficult to do or be something different, when popular systems of preference and importance are built on foundations that don’t include you, your image, or your idea of love. When black men and women’s lives can be so easily extinguished in our own society, it becomes hard to think about Hollywood embracing an organic love story between a black woman and a black man, or between a black woman and a black woman. So, that leaves us- the independent black filmmakers and supporters- to love, to make different images, to evoke passion, to write a movie for Lupita and Michael, and others like them. I’m starting now.

Nijla Mu'min is a writer and filmmaker from the East Bay Area. She is currently in development on two feature scripts. Visit her website HERE.

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41 Comments

  • anon | July 30, 2014 11:07 AMReply

    Well Lupita is planning on filming and playing the lead role in Americanah the adpatation of chimamanda adichie's novel and that is set in U.S. Maybe her american boyfriend could be micheal b jordan? Folks, thats the best you're gonna get but I look forward to the movie coz the book is pure class!
    And to accidental visitor, did you know that the notebook was written by a MAN and directed by a MAN?
    Gone with the wind (novel yes was witten by woman but film scripted by a man) AND Lawrence of arabia both done by MEN which debunks your theory about epic romances written ONLY by women.

  • handsomerandyblackladbrad1953 | July 28, 2014 10:08 AMReply

    I of course, mean,"My COLOUR disqualifies me for "The Bachelor!!!!!!"

  • handsomerandyblackladbrad1953 | July 28, 2014 10:06 AMReply

    I don't care about Lupita Nyongo (she's lovely but lacks boobs!!!!!!)but were Yours Truly considered for a leading man role,VERY FEW WOMEN WOULD TAKE THEIR EYES OFF ME!!!!(I'm a muscular,pinup boy handsome black Canadian lad,61,who's said to resemble a black cowboy stud instead of anyone remotely "urban,' which is likely why I'm avoided by casting directors,ie.,I don't fit TV's/Hollywood's black male stereotypes,and even were I half my present age,my olour disqualifies me for 'The Bachelor!!!!!!")

  • CC | February 22, 2014 10:37 PMReply

    "But our audience has to support this genre and demand it. Let's keep showing them strong box office when these films from our indie distributors are released and the business execs needing a profit will definitely follow."

    That just about says it all. We ARE NOT "showing them strong box (except... **drum roll** stereotypical rom-coms). So, needless to say "Lupita Loves Michael" (The "black" Notebook) would not be a film they'd consider green-lighting.

  • jerzygirl45 | February 22, 2014 12:51 PMReply

    "It’s difficult to do or be something different, when popular systems of preference and importance are built on foundations that don’t include you, your image, or your idea of love"

    That says it all. About movies, about the current state of things in this country. Perfect assessment. Absolutely perfect

  • Nicole Franklin | February 20, 2014 6:46 PMReply

    Great article and I am looking forward to your work--a very loving portrait of our vibrant and sensual community. Hollywood knows these films exist in the indie community. But our audience has to support this genre and demand it. Let's keep showing them strong box office when these films from our indie distributors are released and the business execs needing a profit will definitely follow.

  • J | February 20, 2014 4:07 PMReply

    We need more AA's in the hollywood community. The Black Hollywood culture needs to hear our demands and meet them. This is plausible.
    We just need more AA/black film makers because the talent is out here and willing to portray these stories.

  • urbanauteur | February 20, 2014 1:42 PMReply

    How`bout an remake of 'WARM DECEMBER'? or 'BLACK ORPHEUS'?

  • Zaneta | February 20, 2014 1:34 PMReply

    When I looked at these two Michael and a Lupita I NEVER thought they would be together in real life. Michael looks like he is into the racy chick. In a film kind of, but Lupita comes across as intellectual and probably into someone like Malik Yoba or a white guy like Mayor de Blasio!!!

  • Formerly From Tokyo | February 20, 2014 12:23 PMReply

    I think part of this stems from the fact that not enough (perhaps only to my personal liking) people of color get involved in the film industry. When thinking of making money, there are many who look to either music or sports, rather than the realms of film or fashion (my personal preferences). I've always been the kind of person who understands wanting (and even at times, needing) the help/validation of the mainstream, but at the same time feeling like, "If they don't represent you then represent yourself." If I was in film, I would create these opportunities, but I would not solely cast my race, because as a cinephile of color, I'm gratified to see multi-racial casts, while at the same time resenting the fact that it is not the norm.

  • Formerly From Tokyo | February 20, 2014 1:08 PM

    The more I think about it too, something else I should say is that just because people like Tyler Perry (not to "hate" on him because there is no dislike, just disinterest) make films and cast actors of color, it still doesn't mean that the culture he portrays is a single black culture. That's the problem I have with a lot of "black folks" movies. I can't (and don't) watch a movie just because of the race of the cast; if it doesn't appeal to my otherwise, then I cannot enjoy it. So as much as I would like to watch more films featuring more minority cast, made my minority directors, I also require THOSE films to feature more universal stories. At least the few Tyler Perry films I've seen don't reflect my life as a person of color.

  • Accidental Visitor | February 20, 2014 7:22 AMReply

    Forgot to mention that the only recent black love stories in movies that were worth a damn happened to be Chico and Rita, Mother of George and the aforementioned Middle of Nowhere. Chico and Rita had the type of epic love story that spanned over decades that you just don't see when it comes to black couples. Unfortunately it is also an animation. And of the three movies I mentioned, only one had a script written by a black person (Middle of Nowehere). The other two were written by whites.

  • Colleen | February 20, 2014 2:17 AMReply

    I have a genuine question that I hope comes across as respectfully curious rather than dense or offensive. I am white, female, and a storyteller. I appreciate good stories with well-written, interesting characters regardless of their background, and I'm angered at the lack of diverse roles in general. Truly, I am tired of the formula.

    I think I'm in a position to do something about this. I only feel inspired to write characters who tend to be underrepresented (whether interracial couples, women in thriller genres, transgender men and women, etc.) because in one way or another, these stories are things I have witnessed within my own life, in friends' lives, or that I simply notice in the world around me. My question is: is it presumptuous of me, as a white woman, to try to tell the story of a person of color, whether through writing, directing, etc.?

    I read articles like this one and envision very easily a love story between 2 black characters, but then doubt my place to tell it. On one hand, love is so broad that it feels wrong to shy away on the basis of race; it feels like a subtler form of racism, implying that for a "black" story to be valuable it must explicitly address the characters' "blackness." On the other hand, I would hate to exacerbate the issue by becoming a white creative who black actors work with to the exclusion of anyone else. What is the proper way to go about this? Is there one? Is it better for the stories to be written, regardless of the author's ethnicity, as long as human truth and integrity are paramount?

  • nun | February 20, 2014 1:59 PM

    Echoing Tony, if you're going to write stories about a community that you're not a part of, it's best to work closely with folks from that community during the creative process. Consider working with a co-writer, a more informed director or producer, or at least have folks available to vet your scripts and tell you if certain things ring true.

    It's similar to if you were writing a script about a heart surgeon but had never been a surgeon yourself. Yes, doctors are "human" like everyone else, but they have a certain set of experiences that are unique to them, that you wouldn't know about unless you've walked in their shoes. It's the same with black folks or any other minority group.

    Also, here's a wild idea, but you always have the option to support other black and underrepresented filmmakers who are working to tell their own stories. They do exist. And by virtue of being white and female, you may have access to resources that they don't have. If you're really concerned about telling great stories about underrepresented folks, then why not help direct some funding and support to folks from those communities who are struggling to tell those stories.

  • Formerly From Tokyo | February 20, 2014 12:10 PM

    " I appreciate good stories with well-written, interesting characters regardless of their background......I only feel inspired to write characters who tend to be underrepresented...."

    THIS is what I feel and this is what I do in my writing. I've always been an avid reader, but after a point (as I grew older), I got tired of always reading about stories with only Caucasians in it, particularly because the experiences of the characters were HUMAN experiences that should not have been limited by race. I feel the same now whenever I watch movies or play video games. I often wonder why the main character has to be a certain race when there is nothing racially or ethnically restrictive in the subject matter; part of this is because I see the character's personality first. I write my characters to reflect my world: multi-racial/ethnic/cultural, with varying lifestyles, (socio-economical) backgrounds, etc. Something else I wonder is if the people who only cast one race of characters are people who only have that race as friends/family, or is it a deliberate decision, or is it just that they're so used to "seeing white/black/brown" that it doesn't even occur to them to cast otherwise?

    I want to see a movie about an interracial couple that has nothing to do with their experiences as an interracial couple, or a non-stereotypical black romance, or an Asian main character who isn't nerdy, doesn't do martial arts, isn't a cop, etc. I would like the film industry to reflect the thing I love about the Sleepy Hollow TV show the most: the diversity and the universality of the characters' experiences. I hope they don't change that show, because when not only is your main cast is diverse but so are the EXTRAS, that's something I need on my television.

  • Will | February 20, 2014 4:12 AM

    I say why not. People feel like its diffcult to wrtie black characters. They also feel the same when writing women. Just write about HUMAN BEINGS and draw from your own experiences. If you do that then it should be fine. Good luck.

  • CareyCarey | February 20, 2014 3:46 AM

    Hello Collen,

    It's 2 am but there's always someone standing on S&A's block ready to do a little business. So I think I have what you need. And today, you're in luck, your question has been addressed many times and several different ways here at Shadow and Act. So, since you were very polite, open and honest about your quandary (we recognize game) I am going to direct you to the good stuff. No, not that wacky green good stuff, but a post filled with 71 comments from readers, writers and filmmakers (blacks and whites).

    Here you go. Do come back and share what you found.

    Put this in the upper right hand corner search box --> 2013 S&A Highlights: Are There Stories That Should Only Be Told On Film By Black Filmmakers?

    Btw, I believe that post is one of the best of the year. But do be forewarned, this is Shadow and Act, a place of many faces who will vehemently disagree with each other (debate, battle, cuss & fight, and talk sh*t). But it's all good in the neighborhood. Suggestion: Take the good and put the rest in file 13. And remember, do come back and share all the insight and serendipitous rewards you received.

  • TONY | February 20, 2014 2:51 AM

    This is always tricky because, there are already so few opportunities for minorities in the film industry that people will always question your intentions. But I feel that as long as one did it with genuine interest in examining the lives of the on more than a surface level then it doesn't matter the race of the writer/director/producer. BUT I think that does include collaborating with people of other races. If you're going to make a film about black people, black people should be involved. BUT of course that wouldn't be a consideration if there were more equality in the industry.

  • Sydney Levine | February 20, 2014 1:09 AMReply

    From the moment I saw that picture, I wanted to see more of these two vibrant actors, which led me to read your entire article, and again to bemoan the systemic lack of even monetary interest (and profit) in taking such action as making that perfect movie I would love to see. I'm white, even had a role in the system until I chose to go indie rather than Hollywood (read "corporate"). Hooray for Ana Duvernay, but is there no other black soul with money to spare who dares to risk it on such a movie? Is there no black Ryan Cavanaugh? How I wish our American system nourished that crazy sense of creative romanticism to make money play a role in movies we care about. It is left up to the individual will while in Europe and Latin America government funds help the artist in the name of cultural expression. Sadly in U.S., culture is considered a luxury not an imperative.

  • CareyCarey | February 19, 2014 8:51 PMReply

    "So, will we ever see this film? ... what would be the obstacles to getting it made? The same systemic obstacles.... It's difficult to do or be something different, when popular systems of preference and importance are built on foundations that don't include you, your image, or your idea of love"

    Now can we speak in a language called "straight forward". The basic "obstacle" is white folks, period! From the jump it's a proven fact, they have no love for (do not support) black films, period. Now add a black love story to the mix. Immediately, one might as well have posted a blast from the past "For Blacks Only". Think not? Why not? Look, we have been conditions to accept white love stories, but they, on the other hand, have never been forced to accept/love/seek out anything about our lives, so what - now - would compel them to change their habits?

    So in this discussion they should be removed from the table. Moving forward, lets start from the top "what would be the obstacles to getting it made?"

    Well, aside from money being the prevalent obstacle, who in the black audience desires such a film? But wait, before we answer, exactly what type of love story are we talking about? Are we clamoring for more Love Jone type affair? The author mentioned the good and not so good elements of Think Like A Man. Is that the type of black love story we would love to see Lupita and Michael highlight their skills? That reminds me, it should be noted that Tyler Perry has produced the most popular black love stories to date... and how did An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, Middle of Nowhere, Love and Basketball, Pariah and "I Will Follow" do at the box office?

    I'm just saying... "what would be the obstacles?"

    The devil's in the details of the proposed film... and who exactly, truly wants to see said film? Hey, I'm just posing the question because word to the wise, whomever they may be raising their hands in the air and hollering like they really care, money talks and...

  • Bforreal | February 19, 2014 9:16 PM

    Well, I'm a black woman, and I personally disagree with Accidental Visitor. I want more black-black love stories. And not the crappy rom-com type (e.g. Brown Sugar). I want the Love Jones, I Will Follow, and even Love and Basketball types. Those are the black love stories I have admired and can watch repeatedly.

    Brown Sugar and Think Like a Man are good in their own way, but personally I think they're so formulaic that they don't lend themselves to repeated viewings nor are the characters all that interesting (in fact, I find the characters more annoying and unrealistic than entertaining). But those films have their place, sure.

    I just want more of the thoughtful black love films like the first three I mentioned above. That is all. I have not seen Oversimplification of Her Beauty - because I have to say, I don't like try-hard films, rather they are white or black films. I like a good story with no gimmicks. That said, A Good Day to Be Black and Sexy was one of my favorite black love film collections. Dennis Dortch is one of the only people really doing black love out there now, and for that I admire him.

  • Accidental Visitor | February 19, 2014 6:23 PMReply

    Here is an opinion that may prove unpopular. I do not believe that within the black community there is this clamoring for a real black love story. Sure, black folks when asked about it give a lot of the typical talk about how they would love to see such a movie, how it has been long overdue, etc. But do our actions match our words?

    Love stories are stories that can be enjoyed immensely by both sexes regardless of how much we men deny it. Nonetheless in the end the main audience for such films are women, regardless of race or class. For a black love story to be successful it must have the backing and support specifically of black women. But in my opinion black women don't care as much about a black love story as they do about a love story that involves black women. In other words black women will easily settle for a love story involving a black woman and a non-black man in place of a love story involving a black woman and a black man.

    This opinion, and it is nothing more than my opinion, has been formed by years of conversations I've had as well as written material and posts that I've come across. The times in which black women become MOST passionate about a black love story is in those cases in which the male star at the center is black and the woman is, say, Latina (non-black Latina to be specific). A movie like "Hitch". All of a sudden black females are asking "why couldn't they've cast a black lady in that role, why weren't any black actresses chosen?" It then morphs into the predictable "Hollywood needs to put out more black love stories." But when it is Thandie Newton being the damsel in distress and love interest of Tom Cruise in MI2 all you hear is crickets chirping. There is none of that "oh, I wish there was a black guy playing the Tom Cruise part or a black guy playing a character like Cruise's whom Newton could have starred alongside because that would have made a great black love story."

    Nope. Black female viewers are more willing to overlook the invisibility of any black love story as long as they female part of the couple is black; they are far less willing to overlook this if the man is black and the woman is of another race. And this is the case whether it be a film like 'The Bodyguard" or a TV show like "Scandal". So that suggests to me that black women are more interested in being represented than they are in seeing the representation of black couples in a love affair.

    Further proof of this are books. I rarely ever come across novels by black women that ever deal with a true epic love story that women tend to eat up. White women, Asian women, Hispanic women can write novels about a variety of topics that put women and front in center and yet they also manage to produce a bunch of love stories. I tend not to read these books unless the reviews are out of this world. However via the Sunday NY Times book section, Entertainment weekly and other sources, I do often come across reviews of mainstream books by non-black women that center on complicated, grand love stories that are described as taking place over long stretches of time. I'll admit at times I get envious and wish for such novels about a black couple to come down the pipe. If it got great reviews I would read that in a heartbeat (but wouldn't tell my friends, lol). I can go years without ever coming across or hearing about or reading about such black books. If you want black love stories your only option for a more consistent availability of them is to stoop to those badly written urban-hood romances (if you can call them romances) that people buy on the cheap.

    Now is it fair to put all the onus on black female writers to provide black love novels? Perhaps not. But the reality is that female writers more frequently write such books in the first place. They drive that market. And besides when it comes to black writers there is a big discrepancy between black females who are published and black men who get published, regardless of subject matter. So the reality is that in as far as the chances of the publications of such novels centering on a black man and woman in a passionate affair, the best hope for such material would have to be from a black female author. Frankly I simply don't see black women doing that, especially not on stories that spend equal time and development on both the female and male protagonists. Instead what you'll likely get are works in which the male character is derided and not seen as being worthy of the female character's devoted love. Even if you buy into that description as being more true to reality the fact still remains that such a handling of characters typically does not make for great love stories (and I'm guessing most great love stories leave reality at the door anyway).

    If I'm way off and am missing out on such novels that have been published please educate me and point me in the right direction.

  • CareyCarey | February 19, 2014 7:12 PM

    Well written, concise, and leaves very little wiggle room. But cue Miles Ellison, Akimbo and BluTopaz because this appears to be a continuing theme/issue in which they've (on multiple occasions) given their passionate opinions.

    In my eye, it appears as if A.C. is simply saying be it through literature or films, black women control the black "love story" market. And, from his years of research he concludes that black women may appear to be clamoring for a "black" love story, but in reality they're only interested in seeing a BLACK WOMAN involved in a love affair with a male, his color is insignificant. Now, if I am reading Accidental correctly, from his perspective that type of romance does not equate to a black love story. Now, with no dog in this fight, I can't help but agree with understand practically everything he has written in this post.

  • JH | February 19, 2014 6:17 PMReply

    What if the form of black love films could be expanded? YES! I am no fan of romantic comedies (doesn't matter who is in them) and I am starved for roles featuring people of the African diaspora that are more nuanced than the predictable, albeit comfortable and entertaining, roles we get in the typical Afro RomCom. Love is an extraordinarily complicated thing, so I'd like to see films that portray that complexity (not the "Being Mary Jane" pseudocomplexity of what happens when you make stupid choices with predictable consequences).

  • truth hurts | February 19, 2014 5:45 PMReply

    I don't think Michael B Jordan would ever sign on to do a movie where Lupita was his love interest. Never!

  • Donella | February 20, 2014 5:21 PM

    And... Lisa Bonet, Nona Gaye, Michael Michelle, and Sophie Okonedo.

  • Donella | February 20, 2014 11:24 AM

    Dave, Will Smith's genres of choice are scifi, action, thrillers. He doesn't do romantic comedies.

    But within his genres, Nia Long, Vivica A. Fox, Regina Hall, Gabrielle Union have been his love interests. Sallie A. Richardson and Rosario Dawson have been his love interests, as well.

  • Dave's Deluxe | February 19, 2014 6:06 PM

    Ouch. Truth hurts, yes indeed.

    Interesting fact: to this day, the biggest black star in the world, Will Smith, has never worked with a black narrative feature director, nor a black female lead in a romantic comedy. This is not an accidental omission.

  • C. | February 19, 2014 4:09 PMReply

    Hello... What I want its a Disney's Aida (musical) on the big screen.

  • Smith | February 19, 2014 3:49 PMReply

    Do you seriously, SERIOUSLY think it's "systematic obstacles of racism" that have kept Ted Witcher from making another movie???

  • Sergio | February 19, 2014 4:59 PM

    Exactly. There were other reasons why Witcher wasn't able to get another film made and at one time he had a ton offers waiting for his involvement

  • Gassire | February 19, 2014 1:48 PMReply

    I feel as we see more movies focused specifically on the black audience you may see an expansion in the diversity of the appearance of black men and women in these roles. I've always admired my sisters in all shades, and to see movies that reflect black female beauty the same way would be refreshing. Lupita would be an excellent lead, no doubt.

  • Ashley | February 19, 2014 12:43 PMReply

    I would love for this combination of wonderful to play a romantic role together. However, I find it quite interesting how black male actors like to play in roles with a black female interest, but in real life, they date white women. That perplexes me.

  • Ugonna Wosu | February 22, 2014 9:59 PM

    @AccidentalVisitor Halle was married to two black men

  • banta | February 20, 2014 5:04 PM

    Accidental Visitor: You're doing a lot with the whole "having people taken out back and shot" rhetoric. It's a blog comment section, homie. Calm down. Not that serious in any way, shape or form. What a nutcase.

  • Alias | February 20, 2014 3:12 PM

    @Ashley. It's not that black males "like" to play roles in which they have a black female interest. They don't have a choice, just as black women don't have a choice. Hollywood isn't interested in black on black love.

    Despite the fact that it's a very, very, small percentage of Americans who marry, inter-racially, perception becomes reality for many of us, particularly, when certain images are constantly being placed in front of us through the media.

    And in Hollywood, which is just as racist as the rest of America, it's still NOT the norm for most of us -- regardless of race -- to easily digest a mixing of the races.

    Let's take an example that is NOT black and white, but white and Asian.

    I am a fan of the TV show "Nashville." Currently there are two inter-racial relationships in play on the show: One with a black woman/white man, the other with a white man/ half-Asian half-white woman. Now, despite the fact that in the first relationship (bw/wm) there's been no discussion of race -- which is odd, since we're talking the south and country music, where this type of relationship ISN'T the norm, we -- the viewer -- at least know a little of the back story of "Zoe." We know, by her appearance, that she's black. And she's mentioned singing in her daddy's church and talked of being a preacher's daughter.

    On the other hand, we have actress Christina Chang, who plays a lawyer named Megan Vannoy. So the writers, seemingly, have decided to make Chang, who is half-Asian(Chinese-Philipino), white. Which is really interesting. The fact that her REAL ethnicity is completely stripped away from her character is because white Hollywood, no doubt, finds it too difficult and too messy to address the REAL racial context, and world, in which Ms. Chang lives.

    I'm sure if you were to talk to Ms. Chang she's rarely, if ever, been cast with another Asian man as her love interest, and she's probably rarely been cast in a role in which she's playing an Asian woman with an Asian last name, which is what she is. A quick check of her IMDB page supports my theory.

  • Accidental Visitor | February 20, 2014 7:16 AM

    You do realize that arguably the three most high-profile , young black actresses these days (Paula Patton, Zoe Saldana and Zoe Kravitz) are all involved with white men, right? And that arguably the two biggest black female box office draws of the last 25 years (Whoopi and Halle) have dated and been married to white men too? Current black female icon Kerry Washington is married to a black guy now but throughout most of her professional career she has been linked almost exclusively to white boyfriends. And throw in well-known and typically working actresses such as Thandie Newton, Maya Rudolph, Naomie Harris and Alfrie Woodard for good measure. I came up with these names randomly to show that black actresses are also more than capable of having a black love interest onscreen even if the person they cozy up to offscreen happens to be white. There's plenty of more whom I can list but the point isn't too bring up the name of every black actress who crossed the color line; rather it is to point out that, in as far as their real lives are concerned, black actors have never had a monopoly on "swirling". I suppose we can all come up with list of black actors and actresses who have been (or still are) involved with a white person if we were willing to do some research and dig into their personal lives. The problem arises though when folks start acting as if black female celebs have attained some type achievement of purity by remaining attached exclusively to black men. Get out of here with that nonsense. We can go back as far as when the two biggest black female pinups of their times, Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge, were married to white men.

    So when I keep reading posts that suggest black actors alone are guilty (for lack of a better word) of hooking up with whites I just find that to be ridiculously hypocritical. And when I read posts that take it a step further by suggesting ALL black male stars have been involved in relationships with white women, I chalk it up as one more example of some delusional individual who needs to be either put back on their meds or taken out back and shot in order to be put out of their paranoid misery.

    But here’s the real question? Why is this even an issue in the first place? What does the dating life, personal life, of celebrities have to do with the subject of fictional black love stories on the screen? Me personally I don’t care who these celebs go out with, and that’s including if they are gay. Their personal lives are none of my business.

  • Mark and Darla | February 19, 2014 10:22 PM

    @ Do Better

    Thirteen black men counted, a damn shame......together we stand and make tremendously progress as an unit...divided we fall and make marginal progress individually.

    White men and women have stand together for centuries and have accomplish tremendously and will continue too.

  • stp | February 19, 2014 9:41 PM

    Let me pull my violin out for you do. So your not going to respect the work of these entertainers like Steve McQueen, Alfre Woodard, Halle Berry, Zoe Saldana (yep she's dominican I'm counting her anyways), or Thandie Newton (yep shes british. Count her too.) Well if that's the case, check out some seinfeld episodes.

  • Do better | February 19, 2014 8:29 PM

    Black actors dating or married to non-black women. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Omari Hardwick, Terrence Howard, Taye Diggs, Michael Ealy, David Oyelowo, Cuba Gooding, Lenny Kravitz, Brian White, Nate Parker, Kevin Hart and yes - Michael B Jordan. Among many others. This is just off the top of my head. They don't love us.

  • Mimiluv | February 19, 2014 12:54 PM

    You are generalizing, not all black actors date white besides that shouldn't matter on how they perform on film.

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