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In Light Of Last Night’s Steamy ‘Scandal’ Sex Scenes, Revisiting TV’s 1st Interracial Kiss Between A White Man & A Black Woman

In Light Of Last Night's Steamy 'Scandal' Sex Scenes, Revisiting TV's 1st Interracial Kiss Between A White Man & A Black Woman

In light of last night’s steamy episode of Scandal, as we saw Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope and Tony Goldwyn as Fitzgerald FitzGrant heated up our TV screens with one or two scenes that made some of us wonder how they got past network TV censors, and also because it’s Friday, I thought I’d take us back about 44 years, to the November 22, 1968 Star Trek episode titled Plato’s Stepchildren, which is popularly-cited as the first example of a scripted kiss between a white man and black woman on American television (between Kirk and Uhura).

I couldn’t help but make connections between the two, as I wondered just how far TV (and this country) has come (even though we still have a very long way to go, in terms of race-relations, and what is *acceptable* TV these days, and maybe even banal, compared to 1968, when the now-history-making Star Trek episode aired).

Although I’m sure there were people on both sides of the aisle (white and black) who watched last night’s episode and cringed at the site of what we could say were unusual (for network TV) sex scenes between a white man and a black woman. That is if they even watch the show; the thought of an interracial romance likely turned them off from the start. 

And let’s not even get into the reverse, as in, imagine if this were between a black man and a white woman. Would that even make it on screen? Is America (or maybe more specifically, Hollywood) more tolerant of interracial romance between white men and women of color (not just black women), than they are of interracial romance between men of color (not just black men) and white women? What we see on screen tells the tale. But you guys can discuss.

However, what I really wanted to draw your attention to was this 10-minute long video in which Nichelle Nichols talks at length about shooting that now famous kissing scene with William Shatner. I actually wasn’t aware of all that she says in the video in terms of just how it all went down, the director’s interference, Shatner’s insistence, and Nichols’ frustrations. 

It’s definitely worth watching and listening to if you’re not alreay familiar with it all.

But first, here’s the sequence with the kiss; and underneath you’ll find Nichelle Nichols’ recounting of the set when the scene was shot:

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How could a black women be proud of being just a sex object
these racist white folks movies and shows. Thats just so naive
of black women to act as if nothings wrong. No value at all for black women.
They just stand for any and everything for a buck. Are black women that
easy? As long as you keep letting this ride (black women) you'll never get the respect you
deserve.You'll just keep being a white mans tool that can use any time he wants to use you

Connie Bradford

I heard the Scandal Season finale isn't coming on Tonight, Dec, 13, 2012- Say it isn't so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Cw's "Arrow" has a positive relationship between a black man and white woman. The Cw's "Hart of Dixie" also just started a relationship between two black characters (Cress Williams & Golden Brooks).

Kid chaos

Every time a woman of color is on major Tv she is with a white man.Tell me one show on major tv where a black man is with a black woman


I don't mind seeing black women with white men but then again I am gay. I imagine, for some heterosexual black men they might be jealous I suppose to see beautiful black women having sex with white men on television. I'm all for it to be honest. On Meagan Good's new show I think called Deception coming out in January 2013 her love interest is a white guy. I like it that we get to see black women with white men. Why can't a black woman be the one men of all races desire? Why should a black actress only have a black male love interest. Some of the most attractive black women in Hollywood working today have had several IR roles such as Kerry Washington, and of course Gabrielle Union her new film In Our Nature her love interest is a white man.

Has Courtney ever watched 90210 on the CW Network? The very attractive black male actor Tristan Wilds his character Dixon has had several interracial relationships with white women. And on the soap opera General Hospital there is a teen interracial romance between a white girl Molly and a black boy TJ. So there are indeed television shows that are showing interracial romance with a black male and a white female. Although, I do notice these are programs for young people and perhaps younger people are more accepting of IR relationships than older people.


Nichelle Nichols is gorgeous!


Thanks for the opportunity to discuss this, Courtney. And I applaud your writeup for even touching the topic regarding this lack of balance. It hasn't been discussed enough when IR in the media in general is brought up. But let me point out that TV has been far better in displaying IR than Hollywood movies have been this is even in the case when the interracial couple is a BM/WW. Actually primetime and cable TV has been more open to this type of couple, daytime TV on the other hand has been far less likely to pair a black guy with a white woman.


Blah Blah Blah… Scandal is great!!! Can't wait till next week's show!

Agent K

You know what, this article and some of the comments justifies my prejudice against IR relationships. Well not the relationships themselves but the romanticizing of IR pairings. "We all know that IR happen between black men and non black women in the real world". Talk about desperate. Who fucking cares which one is doing it more? I know people are gonna do what they do but damn.


The bigger takeaway for me, in last night's episode, is that both character's did touch on the complexity of the relationship, both as it related to and doesn't relate to race. When Oliva made the Sally Hemings Jefferson remark. More than any other writer/ producer — in recent memory for me — Shondra Rhimes makes an effort to address the racial aspects of this relationship, which are real and important. Several members of my family are in IR marriages, and I can tell you, from experience, that race remains a HUGE issue in our society. Anyone who has read, extensively, about our nation's history, but also read about IR relations between other groups — most notably Asian men and women who marry whites — would have a much broader understanding of this topic and not dismiss Courtney's blog about last night's episode. Also, Lawrence, if you truly understood how Hollywood and the egos of the white male patriarchial hierarchy work then you wouldn't have asked such a ridiculous question.


You know, the fact that you wrote this article means we actually haven't come that far. When people like you stop making a big deal out of interracial relationships, THEN we'll have come a long way. Get some real writing material, idiot.


"To quote another commentor, people only see their oppression, and never their privilege." Yup, just waiting to see the number of folks complaining and crying. LOL. Nevermind the fact that we all know IR happen more between BM and non black women in the real world. I would love to see all unions represented equally because it would represent what we see in real life. Also, with Shonda, she isn't afraid of putting IR couples together. She's done it a lot on Greys and Private Practice. So people need to just stop.


It still amazes me how in 2012 its still more acceptable to see intimacy between a whit man and a black woman in TV and movies than a black man and a white woman. The white man is always potrayed as the hero knight in shining armor coming to save the black woman ie "Something New", "The Bodyguard" ect and the in films where the black man is a white woman's love interest its forbidden, dangerous and taboo. Sad.

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