Interracial Relationships, Sex & Marriage in Cinema

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Interracial Relationships, Sex & Marriage in Cinema

Interracial Relationships, Sex & Marriage in Cinema

Bigotry is the state of beliefs of a person who has prejudice towards an individual or a group of people based on different issues. This may be based on their gender, race, nationality, sexuality, religion or socioeconomic status hence bigots show contempt or intolerance towards these people. Most stereotypic individuals think in the manner that they do as a result of their environment during their formative years, growing up knowing that the treatment they apply to others has no fault. Others do not grow up bigots but due to the circumstances they go through in their lives, their thinking is changed to be in line with the situations as they face. For instance, racism is a major form of bigotry, with there being a certain level of contempt between different groups of Caucasians, Hispanics and Blacks. This, in turn, leads to great opposition by bigots to interracial relationships, sex or marriage. An illustration in which bigotry towards interracial relationships is portrayed is in the movie “Jungle fever” with the main characters being Flipper and Angie who are involved in an interracial extra-marital affair[i].

In the movie “Jungle Fever” Flipper had an affair with Angie who was of Italian American decent and on their affair being discovered he turned cold to her. The main form of bigotry is shown by friends of Flipper’s wife, who are more engrossed in the fact that Flipper cheated on his wife with a Caucasian rather than the main fact that he cheated. The main concern of the black women in this film is that of losing their men to white women[ii]. This film covers the events in the year 1991 where racism was at a high level, and the black community was yet to receive the same treatment with whites. A black man dating white women was an action viewed by the black women as placing them at an inferior position, and seeing them as not being good enough. This only further enhanced counter-racism with black women hating white women.

In the same movie, Flipper faces prejudice on different occasions, which might have led to his racist feelings towards Whites. For instance, at his workplace he is passed over for a promotion whereas he was fully qualified. Flipper’s contribution to his company is evident, but when an opportunity for promotion arises, he is overlooked possibly because of his race. This might have evoked his racist feelings towards Angie as he turns cold and uncaring once his affair is exposed. Flipper finds himself a victim of racism where he is confronted by two police officers when in Angie’s company. He is subjected to racial profiling as the two officers assume that Angie was not with Flipper on her own free will but was being raped. This treatment towards Flipper may evoke a feeling of resentment to those who subject him to it and any other people with any form of association to those humiliating him.

In two races with evident racism between them, there may be an attraction of the opposite sexes, but that attraction rarely translates into anything deeper. This may be due to fear of rejection from the other race, or fear of judgment from one’s race, or maybe both. The attraction may also be a psychological reaction, for instance, in the 1990’s period; black men may have been with white women as a sign of conquering the forbidden. Blacks were viewed as inferior; therefore, a man may have gotten a white woman to bed him just to prove that he was capable of achieving what the white men had. Having a white woman without committing to her may also have been a form of revenge towards the whites, who were showing him prejudice, to show that their women were easier to get. This might have been the case with Flipper in the movie when he is disregarded for promotion due to his race. He has an affair with a white woman whom he does not commit to and keeps her hidden, only to dismiss and distance her once their romance is uncovered.

In the movie, racism is double sided as Angie also faces the consequences of being in a relationship with a black man. When her father discovers the relationship, he disowns her and kicks her out of his house. Angie’s father could not fathom his daughter being a black man’s girlfriend. This may be as a result of the superiority complex the whites had at that period over black people. He saw it as a disgrace to the family and a humiliation to the white race. The double sided nature of racism is similar to that in the essay “The Mulatto Millennium” by Danzy Senna in “Half and Half”. She identifies that in the society people define racial categories with which they identify themselves. The blacks relate with their fellow blacks, whites with whites and Hispanics with their fellow Hispanics[iii]. This leaves the other races lacking an identity while biracial people are left confused as to where they belong. This explains the loyalist attitude displayed by Angie’s father to his race and the reason why he viewed Angie’s behavior as a betrayal to the race.

Moreover, in “Half and Half” where discrimination in relation to interracial relationships is evident is where Angie’s ex-boyfriend Paulie decides to date a black woman. His father warns him that he would not accept such a relationship. Paulie also experiences beatings from his friends who warn him not to date a black woman, but all the same, he dates her. This shows the view that people of the white race had on black people at that time and that they wanted no affiliation to them. Historical events could have a major role to play in the treatment of blacks over time. In America’s history, blacks were once used and traded as slaves as they were viewed to be intellectually inferior. With time, this stereotype was proved wrong, and laws banning slavery were put in place. However, the stereotype did not die and some whites still viewed themselves as being more superior to blacks. This is evident in the manner in which jobs were allocated until the late 20th century where the superior jobs were given to Whites, with Blacks being allocated the lower level positions[iv].

The treatment of authorities to races other than whites in the States also has a role in the acceptance or denial of interracial relationships. On many occasions, non-whites are subjected to racial profiling just as Flipper was in “Jungle Fever”. This can result in anger and humiliation hindering these other races from having a good relation with Caucasians. The institutionalization of racial groups by the government has played a major role in the growth of division in races[v]. This manifests itself at work places and schools where significant job positions were and still are allocated to whites.

This is also evident in the distribution of resources where there is more resource allocation in areas with a higher population of the white society. The white society may not be racists now, but they reap from the results of their forefathers being racist. By greater allocation of resources in areas populated by whites, those areas developed more than those inhabited by other races. This translated in more whites being wealthier than the rest of the races. Socioeconomic status also plays a major role in the acceptance of an interracial relationship thus with a woman coming from a wealthier family of Caucasian origin, it is harder for the family or society to accept her relationship with a poorer person from a different race[vi]. Thus, it is true that past mistakes have been carried on to the current society making interracial relationships difficult to be accepted. However, the acceptance of more serious interracial relationships has been on the increase with the current society being more open-minded and accepting.

[i] Lee, Spike. “Jungle Fever”. (1991)

[ii] Lee, Spike. “Jungle Fever”. (1991)

[iii] Ohearn, Claudine Chaiwei. “Half and Half”. (Pantheon Books, 1998).

[iv] Anderson Elijah, and Massey, Douglas S. “Problem of the Century: Racial Stratification in the United States”. (Rusell Sage Foundation, 2001)

[v] Anderson Elijah, and Massey, Douglas S. “Problem of the Century: Racial Stratification in the United States”. (Rusell Sage Foundation, 2001)

[vi] Anderson Elijah, and Massey, Douglas S. “Problem of the Century: Racial Stratification in the United States”. (Rusell Sage Foundation, 2001)


Anderson, Elijah, and Massey Douglas S. “Problem of the Century: Racial Stratification in the United States,” Rusell Sage Foundation, 2001.

Lee, Spike. “Jungle Fever,” Directed by Spike Lee. 1991.

Ohearn, Claudine Chaiwei. “Half and Half,” Pantheon Books, 1998.

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