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aruna
08-13-2012, 08:56 AM
I'm interested in looking at the dynamics of love stories in novels (and movies too) where one is a Poc and the other white. Two things occured to me:

-- in contemporary love stories, the interracial thing may be not an issue at all, just an irrelevant detail. Their being of different races is not a plot point or the difficulty they have to overcome. Can you name such novels/movies?

-- in historical stories, the race thing is likely to be the crux of the matter. Yet still, iin most cases it is the man who is white and the woman who is PoC. In all of my own novels, published and unpublished, this is the case. I know of several other novels with this set-up.

-- there are very few stories the other way around: white woman, PoC man. At the moment I can only think of one movie, Far From Heaven with Julianne Moore as the white woman who falls in love with the black gardener, Dennis Haysbert.
At the moment I can't think of a single novel with such a scenario. Help me dig up some!

I think the reasoning behind this is that it is far more taboo for a white woman to be with a black man than the other way around. Traditionally, the woman is supposed to marry "up" -- her husband lifts her into his social class. And of course men having sex with their black servants was always condoned and accepted -- he wasn't supposed to actually marry her, of course, but still, if he did that would be far more socially acceptable than a woman moving "down" in the world by falling in love with, and marrying, a black man, usually of a lower class.

Your thoughts? Examples?

Kitty Pryde
08-13-2012, 09:51 AM
I'm interested in looking at the dynamics of love stories in novels (and movies too) where one is a Poc and the other white. Two things occured to me:

-- in contemporary love stories, the interracial thing may be not an issue at all, just an irrelevant detail. Their being of different races is not a plot point or the difficulty they have to overcome. Can you name such novels/movies?

-- in historical stories, the race thing is likely to be the crux of the matter. Yet still, iin most cases it is the man who is white and the woman who is PoC. In all of my own novels, published and unpublished, this is the case. I know of several other novels with this set-up.

-- there are very few stories the other way around: white woman, PoC man. At the moment I can only think of one movie, Far From Heaven with Julianne Moore as the white woman who falls in love with the black gardener, Dennis Haysbert.
At the moment I can't think of a single novel with such a scenario. Help me dig up some!

I think the reasoning behind this is that it is far more taboo for a white woman to be with a black man than the other way around. Traditionally, the woman is supposed to marry "up" -- her husband lifts her into his social class. And of course men having sex with their black servants was always condoned and accepted -- he wasn't supposed to actually marry her, of course, but still, if he did that would be far more socially acceptable than a woman moving "down" in the world by falling in love with, and marrying, a black man, usually of a lower class.

Your thoughts? Examples?

White woman with a black man? How about the movie Jungle Fever? Tasteful title, I know. Not a very romantic story though.

If I get credit for tv shows, Happy Endings is a modestly diverse urban ensemble comedy with Damon Wayans Jr as the male half of an interracial couple. My partner and I both think it is hilarious, and relatively realistic. Race isn't the hugest deal between them, but it does come up.

Or Rose Tyler and Mickey on Doctor Who!


The other side of the reason behind the taboo you're talking about is the notion that black men would rape white women, and that the sexuality of black men is wild and uncontrollable, something white women need protection from. For a very long time in US history, it would be downright dangerous for a black man to be in a romantic or sexual relationship with a white woman because of the community's violent "protective" reaction toward the situation.

Scribble Orca
08-13-2012, 09:57 AM
Racking my brains here. There was that YA book Perfect Chemistry - she was uptown and he was Hispanic?

Spike Lee's Jungle Fever film? She was Italo-American and he was African-American.

I am not a person of a skin colour living in a society where my skin colour is an issue. I have been in a society where that skin colour was an issue. But then, I've been in societies where certain things about me that I am unable to change are issues, and also not.

I think we make our problem by focussing on differences as if these were undesirable. I even think sometimes naming these differences creates the difference. But that isn't always the case, so dealing with the problems created by the differences, by illuminating what the crux or core of the problem is (fear of something different) can hopefully work to lessen those problems.

aruna
08-13-2012, 03:39 PM
If I get credit for tv shows, Happy Endings is a modestly diverse urban ensemble comedy with Damon Wayans Jr as the male half of an interracial couple. My partner and I both think it is hilarious, and relatively realistic. Race isn't the hugest deal between them, but it does come up.

Or Rose Tyler and Mickey on Doctor Who!


I don't watch much TV so I don't know these shows. Thanks!


Racking my brains here. .


It's hard, isn't it? That such a perfectly "normal" thing should be so rare in fiction!

TudorRose
08-13-2012, 04:07 PM
A few Indian examples:

Heat and Dust - Ruth Prawer Jhabvala

The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott (series of books upon which the brilliant TV series The Jewel in the Crown was based). The first book has the main romance, but its repercussions thread through the series.

In a Far Country by Linda Holeman (hazy on the details of this one and I think perceptions of race shift, but the female MC certainly starts out as the daughter of white missionaries)

ETA: these are for white woman with PoC man, not your first point

Also, haven't read it, but I believe Doris Lessing's The Grass is Singing is about a WW/PoC relationship in South Africa

aruna
08-13-2012, 05:33 PM
Thanks. I've seen the movie Heat and Dust, but so long ago I've actually forgotten the story -- though I love ANYTHING by Jhabvala/Merchant Ivory.

I also read one of the Raj Quartett books eons ago; again, no memory of the relationship in it.

So that's two down with Indian men; and speaking of Merchant Ivory remonds me of E M Forster's Passage to India, thoguh of course that wasn't a love story, but exactly what I'm talking about: Indian man daring (supposedly) to touch a white woman.

I'm still looking for books where the man is African black, woman white: a real love story. Anything out there?

aruna
08-13-2012, 05:42 PM
OK, I found this list (http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/16244.Interracial_Relationships_in_Fiction)on Goodreads. I'm going through it to see if I can find what I'm looking for. Southern Discomfort (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/165399.Southern_Discomfort), by Rita Mae Brown, seems to be a wf/bm book, judging from the cover, but it's hard to tell by the blurb and the reviews, and it's supposed to be funny? I'm not looking for humour. Anyone know about this book?

ETA also, that list is for interracial relationships, not necessarily love stories. To Kill a Mockingbird is on the list.

ETA: Oh lord! I'm not seeing right. There's a book there called Brenda Baily Cunningham's Ankle Bracelet. This is from the blurb:


It was Brenda's birthday and her husband Riley had presented her with a gift. It was an ankle bracelet with the letters BBC hanging off it. BBC was Brenda's initials and she loved the fact that her husband had purchased such a personalized gift for her.

Neither Brenda nor Riley knew of the intended purpose of this bracelet.

In the world of interracial swinging, BBC stood for Big Black Cock and when a white woman wore this, she was signaling not only a preference, but also a willingness to submit to black men.

One night, a man named Marcus, who knows well the significance of the bracelet, approaches Brenda. However, upon learning that she was unaware of the meaning of the bracelet, he sets off to turn her into a whore for black men to use as they see fit.:(

Rachel Udin
08-13-2012, 06:48 PM
This problem was shown in the movie "I am Bruce Lee". I think he's probably the last Asian male to ever get a leading role where he got the girl too (US, of course). Also, where it didn't matter what the race of the girl he had either.

Poc Males rarely get to take the lead unless it's a PoC movie/book. In reverse, it's fine for white leading men to take PoC women...

I can only think of real life stories... (beyond the ones mentioned.)

aruna
08-13-2012, 07:12 PM
This problem was shown in the movie "I am Bruce Lee". I think he's probably the last Asian male to ever get a leading role where he got the girl too (US, of course). Also, where it didn't matter what the race of the girl he had either.


I remember discussing this with the black SF writer Steven Barnes at a writers conference years ago. We had a good old rant together!

I seem to remember a movie with Will Smith where he gets the (white) girl? Or am I mistaken? Still, where are the books???

missesdash
08-13-2012, 07:18 PM
Ugh, okay wrote this huge long reply and the internet ate it. But I was commenting on how white women are statistically the least likeliest to date outside of their race, with black women coming in a close second. And that black men are much much more likely to be in an interracial relationship than black women. So not only is the lack of these stories odd, it's not at all a reflection of reality.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/01/29/us/20110130mixedrace.html?ref=us

aruna
08-13-2012, 07:49 PM
OK: I found several books on that list that fit the bill. All of these are exactly what I was looking for, and they all look like books I'll be reading soon.

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/480711.Crossing_Blood

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3160847-holly

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/271685.Five_Smooth_Stones

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4081269-dancing-at-the-victory-cafe

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/428322.21_Sugar_Street

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/717811.Love_Invents_Us

The_Ink_Goddess
08-13-2012, 08:26 PM
I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga is a (pretty gory) YA thriller with an interracial relationship (white boy, black girl). It's an interesting/bizarre example - she falls into the category of the Sassy Black Woman cliche (ugh) and makes some very clumsy comparisons between slavery and the main character overcoming his childhood. But it's quite interesting in that it's both presented as no big deal (no-one is racist to them), and a plot point (the main character was conditioned to be a serial killer by his father and therefore view women as potential victims - all except black women).

aruna
08-13-2012, 08:49 PM
Thanks to all who posted here -- as you may have guessed, I'm writing just such a novel now and as I've never read anything of that sort I was looking for books I could compare it to.

The difference of all those to mine is that the latter is set in British Guiana, not the USA. I've never done this before so it'll be interesting to see how it goes. Easier or more difficult to place? Time will tell!

aruna
08-13-2012, 09:31 PM
... and how could I ever forget the Mother of them all -- Othello!

backslashbaby
08-14-2012, 12:37 AM
It's very common where I live, so the lack of it on TV, etc, stands out.

I've almost written it a thousand times, but I get afraid of the controversy of a white woman talking about how sexy a Black man is. If I were a white male I'd be afraid of talking about sexiness of Black women, too.

The way white folks used to be attracted to Black people involved such a power difference, and the sexuality of Blacks is a trope that is used in a racist way so often that I just get scared of having the white character go on about any sexiness.

This is for a longer work, btw. In a shorter work there are fewer thoughts to possibly state in a controversial way.

It's a little like exoticizing Asian females. If you really do think Asian women are beautiful and different looking than white women, you run the risk of sounding like you only like them because they are so 'exotic', a bad trope.

I hope my explanation makes sense. 'Exotic' Asians and sexy, strong African-blooded individuals are just something that can be very tricky to go on about (imho), unfortunately.

I think in real life it can be like liking redheads or blondes, etc. It's just what you find attractive or less so. But add in the race controversy and the old ideas, and it can sound so different than, say, preferring tall men as far as looks go.

dolores haze
08-14-2012, 04:44 AM
The Lover by Marguerite Duras. White French girl and Chinese dude set in colonial era Vietnam. Also a movie.

LJD
08-14-2012, 05:51 AM
-- in contemporary love stories, the interracial thing may be not an issue at all, just an irrelevant detail. Their being of different races is not a plot point or the difficulty they have to overcome. Can you name such novels/movies?

There's Cake in my Future - Kim Gruenenfelder (it's chick lit) a bunch of interracial relationships in that one, IIRC. It's an OK read, but nothing fantastic.

No Souvenirs - K.A. Mitchell (m/m romance) Pretty good. One of the men is Korean-American.


->my WIP if it ever gets published, haha.

You might go to a romance website like Dear Author and look through the relevant tags, rants about this issue, etc.

aruna
08-14-2012, 08:45 AM
The way white folks used to be attracted to Black people involved such a power difference, and the sexuality of Blacks is a trope that is used in a racist way so often that I just get scared of having the white character go on about any sexiness.

This is for a longer work, btw. In a shorter work there are fewer thoughts to possibly state in a controversial way.



I think in real life it can be like liking redheads or blondes, etc. It's just what you find attractive or less so. But add in the race controversy and the old ideas, and it can sound so different than, say, preferring tall men as far as looks go.

Hi you're right, and I agree that that might be the reason for the taboo, if there is a taboo. I get around it by not at all emphasising any sexiness. The black man concerned is a bit of a geek, with ambitions beyond his status; it's his character, more than anything, that intrigues the woman. And she's just an innocent girl; there's no physical relationship beyond a kiss. It's an emotional rather than a physical pull; he's the first interesting peron she's ever met. I'm taking her on a roller-coaster journey with her waking up to her privilege and growing to truly understand the ingrained racism of her class, rejecting it, and maturing. It's a coming-of-age story as much as it is a love story.

And it is a longer work. I'm almost on 80000 words, and it will definitely go beyond 100000; plus there will be two follow-ups.


I was just curious as to the place of such a set-up on the market. I've never written from the POV of white female before, and I did have my qualms. But there's a personal reason I ended up doing it, and it's working. I really need to do some reading, though.

backslashbaby
08-15-2012, 12:56 AM
Oh! If it doesn't involve sexy descriptions, I think it could go over very well with nearly everyone. A coming of age story sounds lovely. I wouldn't worry about the interracial part a bit :)

And my fear of the sexy stuff is just fear of controversy. Just so everyone knows, I think those stories should be written. I'm just a scaredy cat, myself ;)

LJD
08-15-2012, 04:09 AM
I seem to remember a movie with Will Smith where he gets the (white) girl? Or am I mistaken? Still, where are the books???

Well, there's Hitch, where he gets Eva Mendes.
I seem to remember there being a lot of discussion about this. They didn't want a black actress because they didn't want it to be seen as a "black" movie, perhaps?

Rachel Udin
08-15-2012, 04:54 AM
Well, there's Hitch, where he gets Eva Mendes.
I seem to remember there being a lot of discussion about this. They didn't want a black actress because they didn't want it to be seen as a "black" movie, perhaps?
She's Cuban.

He did act across of a white woman in MiB, but I don't remember him ever getting that girl. MiBII featured him getting an African American girl (Well one that looked like one) instead.

He was in I, Robot acting across an Irish-American woman Bridget Moynahan. Never saw the movie, but didn't he get the girl on that?

LJD
08-15-2012, 05:00 AM
She's Cuban.

Yeah, I neglected to mention that in my post. IIRC, not only did they not want a black woman for the role, but they didn't want a white woman, either.

This article is what I was thinking of.... (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/7019342/ns/today-entertainment/t/was-race-issue-hitch-casting)