A Word on the Black Woman-White Man Dynamic in Society and Popular Culture



Contemporary society features an influx of relations between black women and white men. From politician’s wives, notably Chirlane McCray (wife of New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio) to romances featured on prime time sitcoms, like Kerry Washington on Scandal and now Halle Berry on Extant, feature educated and powerful black women in the arms of white men.

There are many potential reasons why this white man/black woman dynamic has experienced an abundance of exposure in contemporary society. My mind journeys back to an article I read about the 2004 movie Hitch,starring Will Smith and Eva Mendes. The article disclosed why casting directors declined to cast a black female lead. The reasoning was, that a black female lead would alienate those outside the black diaspora. Interestingly, black romance is perceived as anti-white but in majority relations those of color are encouraged to see beyond the absence of color. Thus, its very likely that the influx of black female presence is issued at the expense of black love, as black love is viewed as a catalyst for the exclusion of non-blacks.

Interracial relations inadvertently explores the dynamic of science fiction. A common motif of science fiction is the dynamic between normative and the other. This romantic dynamic between blacks and whites embodies a similar prototype of the normative and the other. The normative is of course embodied through members of the majority and the other embodied by blacks and those of color. Interracial relationships while not uncommon in contemporary society, are still typically rendered taboo. Perhaps this union is seen as most taboo between black men and white women. Black men often, whether overtly or subliminally, are believed to have achieved upward mobility through a white or non black mate; contrastly, their white or non black counterparts display a presumed sense of liberalism through a black mate.

White or non black women often feel a false sense of superiority over the black woman because of their relationships with black men. This superiority is often jaded in the contents that often cloud their selection. Their selection is often rooted and reduced to an elevated beauty,  often assumed of white or non-black women. White or non black women are more often than not, cast in a role of submission to the ego of their often insecure black male counterparts.  Interestingly, more often than not it is the black male who behaves submissively in these relations, as his spousal selection often signals his conceding to western ideals of achieving a trophy spouse of European or non black extraction.

As a source of desire by white men, the black woman experiences a shift in her perception. Historically excluded from the dynamics of womanhood, the black women is problematically perpetuated as a figure to be admired through her white lover. While the relations between black women and white men are no stranger to American society, the implied legitimacy through consent of these unions, attempt to alleviate this union from a troubled past. This feat of detachment is impossible, as the black female body can never be separated from centuries of mutilation at the hands of white men.

With that said, the redeeming aspects of this black and white union are present in possibility. While many will argue that any racialized woman’s union with a white man will always contain a sense of victimhood on behalf of the radicalized woman, these unions work to alleviate the black female body from her previously under discussed and largely unacknowledged role as the victim.  These recent unions maintain the strength of black woman, an unwavering attribute embodied in both her physique and mind. While the union between the white man and the black woman work to place the black woman in a deserved position of desirability, it features power as an accompaniment to her physical appeal-an attribute very absent from their non black counterparts.

Black women are eliminated from the ability to occupy the role of the trophy wife or girlfriend. While much of this elimination is due to the failure of western society to properly acknowledge the beauty of black women, this inability is also tied to the standards of womanhood being vastly different for women who are not black. Non black women have been traditionally praised for their compliance, and beauty, whereas these traits are not traditionally welcomed or acknowledged on a black body.

The black females who are paired with these white men in both entertainment and society are black women who exude presence rather than passivity. McCray is an educated artist, Olivia Pope of Scandal and Molly Woods of Extant are extensively educated professionals; all have achieved monetary and societal recognition prior to their engagement in an interracial union. This union marks the surely unintentional pairing of individuals who mirror many of the same minor struggles despite their vastly different dispositions.

White men are largely perceived to be sexually inferior to black men but socially and intellectually superior to any and all racialized men. Black women are generally perceived to be significantly less attractive than white or non black women, but are valued for their ability to entertain, their tenacity and strength. Both black women and white men fail to be as stereotypically sexually desirable as their gendered counterparts. For that reason, the union between both black women and white men indirectly work to cast both into reconstructed positions of desirability. Problematically, the black female body has become yet another platform to magnify the implied superiority of white men. Once again what is believed to revive the black race, somehow works to benefit those of the majority faction. This suggests that this absence of black love works to denounce the sexual superiority of black males, at the expense of what appears to be a revised black female presence. However, this revision of the racicalized woman is truly a reconstruction of white male sexuality, depicting him as not only desirable, but of a humble and compassionate spirit- seemingly less culpable to the crimes of the past.

Thus, despite the inability to erase a troubled past, this union presents an unlikely similarity in two of the most unsuspecting factions. Disturbingly, reinforcing the elevation of white males on the backs of black females, at the expense of unity amongst blacks. Suggesting this lack of unity between blacks, or dissolving of the black love dynamic, as fostering the continued exploitation of the black female as the platform for reforming white male sexuality.