Open discussion: Black folks and romance – getting it right

Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and it’s currently Black History Month, how about we combine the two?

What’s your wishlist for Black people in romance? Not just novels – movies, comic books, video games, what have you.

Have you seen something that gets it right? Do tell, and explain what’s awesome about it so we can find something that doesn’t piss us off.

What’s on your Please Stop This Shit list?

What do you want to encounter when romance and Black people are in the same media?

20 thoughts on “Open discussion: Black folks and romance – getting it right

  1. My wishlist for black people in romance?

    Let’s start with the PLEASE STOP THIS SHIT list:

    -Stop with the black women as the Sapphire and the Jezebel to white male protagonists. You know the shit. Where the black woman is usually the villainess or the temptress, the white protagonist’s mistress and/or is plotting to break up his happy relationship with the pure virtuous white heroine. That shit has been played out.

    -Can I please get something other than the Tyler Perryesque romantic films featuring blacks.

    -No more BET booty shaking ghettoeqsue black romantic comedies where we act like buffoons.

    -Stop hooking the black chick with the token alien, mutant, monster, or other unattractive male being. You know because she’s found his inner beauty while her white female peers get their pick of hot white males knowing damn well they wouldn’t pair one of the hot white female characters with the mutant/monster/unattractive male being.

    -In stories where the black chick is the only minority in an otherwise all white cast, you don’t always have to pair her off with the white guy with the darkest features who looks closest to being a POC. You can pair her with the blond guy, the redhead guy, that’s cool too.

    -Many if not most black men are not aspiring to being a white person’s jungle/thug/prison convict fantasy. Some of us think that shit is disgusting.

    -Good black men are not some endangered species or mythical unicorns. We’re here and we are legion. So please kill that noise with these sad ass stories about how sistahs can’t find a good black man anywhere.

    *Exhales*

    -I’ll make this simple, if you wouldn’t pull that shit with white characters/couples, we don’t want that shit either.

  2. Now let’s discuss Stuff I Would Like To See:

    More interracial pairings with blacks and other POCs.

    More well done and respectful pairings with whites and blacks. I think when we’re portrayed as equals in a loving committed relationship and it’s done a lot more often and even more commonly, I think it will go a long way to undoing a lot of the racist oppression we have to contend with.

    I would like to see more romantic films where blacks are handled with the same treatment and respectability as whites.

    More romance featuring black LGBTQs.

    I could keep going but I’ll stop here on what I would like to see.

  3. Media I Would Recommend:

    Just Wright- I can’t recommend this film enough. Superb!!!!!

    Batman-Mystery Of The Batwoman: OMG BATMAN IS DATING A BLACK CHICK! AND A FINE AND FIERCE ONE AT THAT!!!!!

    Nu Star Trek for obvious reasons.

    In comics:

    Jessica Jones & Luke Cage. They are one of the best couples in comics, period. They banter, they bicker, they have a daughter they both adore and the relationship is so organic. And the fact that Jessica is white and Luke is black is handlded in such a matter of fact manner. Check em out in New Avengers.

    And speaking of Heroes For Hire.

    Iron Fist (Danny Rand) and Misty Knight. Also very well done pairing.

    And despite my issues with the publicity stunt behind the pairing, I will be the first to concede that Black Panther (T’Challa) and Storm are very well done as well.

    I would also recommend Grace Choi and Thunder over in DC. Two queer WOC. RVC Bard, you might actually dig these two. Just don’t read them if it’s written by the Nazi homophobe Chuck Dixon.

    There was an old TV show called Snoops where a black successful married couple played by real life couple Tim and Daphne Reid would solve murders. It only lasted for a season but it showed them as sophisticated blacks in a loving relationship. Much in the spirit of say Hart to Hart.

    The new Karate Kid movie had a wonderful example of romance/friendship with young POCs done right.

    One actress who continues to star in projects I enjoy is a black actress named Jessica Lucas. Best known for her role in Cloverfield, she also starred in other projects such as the Covenant, Life As We Know It (the tv series) and Melrose Place 2.0. What’s interesting is in each of these shows and movies, Jessica plays a role which you almost rarely see be afforded to black actresses. Her characters are these sweet affable ingenues who are innocent and pure and full of life and bright and on the cusp of actualizing their potential and taking the world by storm. She dates white men in each of the projects, but she’s not the sapphire, the jezebel or the sassy black chick. She’s usually the strong virtuous heroine that’s usually portrayed by white actresses if that makes any sense. It’s refreshing and they did it right as far as she goes.

  4. Just Wright- I can’t recommend this film enough. Superb!!!!!

    It got a lukewarm reception from critics, but then again, these critics by and large were White. But my friend and I loved the shit out of this movie.

    Seriously, when was the last time you had a romantic movie where the Black guy:

    1. was not a thug
    2. had no baby mama drama
    3. was employed
    4. did not call women bitches and ho’s
    5. had two parents who were married

    Or where the Black chick in a romantic movie:

    1. had a name people can pronounce
    2. had no baby mama drama
    3. did not get into a fight
    4. had two parents who were married
    5. was the main character

    • “Seriously, when was the last time you had a romantic movie where the Black guy:
      1. was not a thug
      2. had no baby mama drama
      3. was employed
      4. did not call women bitches and ho’s
      5. had two parents who were married
      Or where the Black chick in a romantic movie:
      1. had a name people can pronounce
      2. had no baby mama drama
      3. did not get into a fight
      4. had two parents who were married
      5. was the main character”

      …………………………….

      *e-crickets*

      *tumbleweeds roll past*

  5. I’m going to try to start with the wishlist first, because I could be here all day with the bad.

    I want more Black love interests in “secondary” roles. Example: Desperate Housewives (I know, I can’t believe it either) has a storyline in which one of the housewives has been hiding her knowledge of her younger beau’s (Brian Austin Green’s) son by an ex-girlfriend. The ex-girlfriend? Rochelle Aytes. Of course I want fleshed-out Black romances in the main story as well. but even if I go along with the fact that the protagonists lead all-White lives (it’s not that uncommon), can’t we get some hot Black extras/side parts?

    I second the request for more Black queer characters everywhere, but I’m putting in a special petition for more Black lesbians. The heterosexist nature of all of the “Black women can’t get a man” bull really bugs, and I feel like Black lesbians always get thrown in the “men/butch/hard” category, especially if they’re darker-skinned.

    Can we stop with the automatic pairing of two Black people in movies/tv? Seriously, White people get some kind of common interest or mutual attraction to build on–with the Black people it’s always, “We’re here, we’re Black, the end.”

    Also (and I’m looking at books especially for this), please stop describing the beauty of your romantic heroines in terms of the paleness of their skin. It creeps me out, and it automatically excludes a good number of Black women from the “beautiful” category by default.

    • The heterosexist nature of all of the “Black women can’t get a man” bull really bugs, and I feel like Black lesbians always get thrown in the “men/butch/hard” category, especially if they’re darker-skinned.

      This is why Hollywood needs to hire me right now. I can be a consultant – just swoop in and say, “Nope, nah, uh-uh, that shit ain’t going in there. Change it.”

    • Can we stop with the automatic pairing of two Black people in movies/tv? Seriously, White people get some kind of common interest or mutual attraction to build on–with the Black people it’s always, “We’re here, we’re Black, the end.”

      LOL! Inorite!

    • Also (and I’m looking at books especially for this), please stop describing the beauty of your romantic heroines in terms of the paleness of their skin. It creeps me out, and it automatically excludes a good number of Black women from the “beautiful” category by default.

      Amen to this! I am so sick and tired of reading about heroines and their “porcelain skin” and “rosy-hued complexions.” I am also tired of hearing about their long, silky hair.

      It’s time to expand that very narrow definition of what counts as beautiful and desirable in our society.

  6. Wow, you’ve pretty much covered it.

    …But I will mention one story, that stands out in my mind as having gotten it right. There is a short within Paris, je t’aime called, Place des fêtes.

    It is literally the sweetest most affecting ‘black’ romance, I’ve ever seen.

    It is tragic, but lovely and bittersweet and true romance, in the classic sense of the term.

    I want to see more human and truly romantic stories like this, without the trappings of what Hollywood believes our race would bring to it.

  7. One of my favorite recent romance authors, Zoe Archer, just wrapped up a four-book adventure romance series. The hero of the fourth book — because she was totally saving the best for last — is a British black man in the late 19th century, and he’s a total geek. An inventor and strategizer par excellence, with a love for fine waistcoats and a deep well of loneliness that he tries very hard to keep hidden.

    (Full disclosure: he may, in fact, be my favorite romance hero of all time.)

    The heroine was a white American chick with red hair, who’d had some experience with being on the wrong end of privilege but had never thought about it from a race rather than a gender point of view. There was one scene where they talked about how their difference in skin color could cause problems down the road, but by then they were already in pretty deep lust and basically just told the bigots to bring it.

    I would very much like more like this. The kind of romance where skin color varies, and skin color matters, but is not automatically the whole focus of the plot.

    Every other multiracial romance I’ve tried — and I should try some more recent examples, really — has been all about TEH RACISM AND HOW LOVE CAN OVERCOME EVEN FALLING IN LOVE WITH A BLACK DUDE. That’s some creepy shit right there.

    • The hero of the fourth book — because she was totally saving the best for last — is a British black man in the late 19th century, and he’s a total geek. An inventor and strategizer par excellence, with a love for fine waistcoats and a deep well of loneliness that he tries very hard to keep hidden.

      This is why Chiwetel Ejiofar needs to be the lead in a romantic period piece.

  8. I guess I disagree with most of the comments posted. Most of my life I have noticed commercials and movies where a black man is usually paired with a white or light-skinned black woman (except for the last year or so). To me, this gave the impression that society does not think darker woman are attractive enough to be seen on mainstream tv. If she is, she usually is not the love interest. I think it would be great to see a movie where the black man is with a black woman (who is not light skinned). Tyler Perry does an excellent job of pairing black men with black women, not matter what they’re skin color. He does have a little stereotypical stuff, i.e., baby mama drama and the fighting black woman. But his movies are WAY better than most black movies before him. I personally like to see black couples. To me, interracial couples in the movies are just another way of presenting the cultural diversity ideas that are very popular now, but the truth is that there have never been enough movies with regular couples (meaning middle income, live in house or regular apartment as opposed to the ghetto or inner city) that don’t feature drugs, crime or the “black problem” as the main plotline. And on a personal note, because I am a black woman who struggles with same sex attraction and does not believe that a person is born that way, but rather that it is caused largely by inner brokeness and a lack of early age gender identity, I do not want to see that topic in movies.

    • “And on a personal note, because I am a black woman who struggles with same sex attraction and does not believe that a person is born that way, but rather that it is caused largely by inner brokeness and a lack of early age gender identity, I do not want to see that topic in movies.”

      Ew ew ew I need a shower!

      Oh Josephine, I can’t even sustain my anger at you. It must be awful hating an aspect of yourself so much that you think you’re entitled to comment on other people’s lives as if you know one single damn thing about them. Take your ‘lifestyle choice’ of fear and repression elsewhere, ta.

  9. I do like to see a good black romance flick instead the ones that hollywood shove down our throats. Like i do like it when someone goes against the trend. Which why I respect The Karate Kid and Romeo must Die.

    Also if someone say that interracial couples are not marketable. Let’s see you have: Blasians, Blatino, Eurasians, Black-Arabs and etc. So you have also of people if not descendants of those mix races.

    On another note: I do like to see a fictional romance with Ryoma Sakamoto and Harriet Tubman. Man I can just pick the right actors

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