A large part of the discussion of racism in New Who has centered around the couples shown. While multi-racial couples are, I'm told, far more common in Britain than in America, black fans complained that all of the black characters in a romantic relationship were shown in love with white characters - worse, white characters who did not value them as partners. Rose abandoned Mickey, protested his inclusion on the TARDIS, and joked around with the Doctor while ignoring Mickey three feet away. Martha, who attracted a fair number of white characters that she had to leave at the end of each episode, was attracted to the Doctor, who alternately relied on her, flirted with her, and ignored her, to the point where she repeatedly said that she felt he couldn't see her or made her feel second best. These were the reasons she explicitly cited when she left. Even Martha's father, who had been part of a minority couple, broke it up to go chasing a shallow white golddigger, who reduced him to whining after her as she broke up and stomped out of his own son's birthday party.
I've read these arguments. I have been persuaded by these arguments. Since new Who has shown stable white/white relationships, I agree it's past time that they show a successful black/black one.
I hope you'll forgive the slight spoiler if I say that Clyde flirts with a black girl in one of the Sarah Jane Adventures. While pulling soniclipstick
together, I found and linked to the Behind the Sofa review of that episode. Here's what they had to say about that moment. (Language warning, and some of it's mine):Oh no. Not the "Black characters have to have black love interests" cliche. Not the "Keep yer damn n*gger paws off our whaaaaaht womenfolk" bullshit.
... the fuck? If that's the reaction, then the writers don't stand a chance in hell of setting up any relationship that won't get them accused of racism, unless it's possibly black/other minority.
But... IS that the reaction? I'm asking - is your gut reaction to watching a black character flirt with another black one in Who "Damnit, they're telling him to keep in his place!" or "About damn time!"
I can't say that the SJA has been free of the same racist attitudes that have threaded through Doctor Who and Torchwood, although I am encouraged by the most recent episode, which I think shows sudden, significant improvement - while Nos thinks it's being really egregiously racist yet again
, so obviously there's a lot of wriggle room for interpretation. (Spoilers for Whatever Happened to Sarah Jane, pt 1, needless to say.)
But romantically - what do you think? What kind of romantic relationships do you want to see a black character have in the Whoniverse? What kind of romantic relationships do you feel will *not* carry a racist subtext?