Black Men, Asian Women on TV

By Rinku Sen Sep 22, 2006

I had a great time at a Public Square event in Chicago last week talking about the little bit of writing I’ve done on the race and romance front, in particular a piece on Black Men and Asian women couples on popular primetime dramas like Grey’s Anatomy. A couple of points I made: our social relations are closely related to our political relations, and to specific policies in fact. In my piece about Black Men and Asian Women, I point out that the combination of post-1965 immigration policies and domestic policies that raised, if only slightly, the fortunes of Black communities, gave these communities access to each other in neighborhoods, schools and workplaces. I learned from Mae that historically in the US (and in the Caribbean too) the more common relationship was between Asian women and Black men. The Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited Chinese women from immigrating, and anti-miscegenation laws punished relationships between Asian men and white women. Makes perfect sense, had I thought about it for a moment as I was writing. Obviously, media representations have a lot to do with who is considered desirable in what kinds of ways. Love is love, but all love is influenced by the context in which it grows. To recognize that doesn’t make the love any less real. Today’s representations of interracial couples seem to reinforce the conservative notion that the United States is already a colorblind society (look at all the cross dating!). Barbara Ransby pointed out that many of the Black conservative leaders have white partners, which conservatives seem to accept perfectly easily. We should be very careful about assuming that the proliferation of interracial couples, whether on TV or in real life, means that our racial justice project has been successfully completed. It hasn’t, and we can’t afford to be distracted by the country’s dating patterns.