On Tuesday, Michael B. Jordan became the talk of the internet after it was speculated that the Black Panther actor is dating a white woman. Pictures and videos popped up on several sites with Jordan and his rumored girlfriend, Ashlyn Castro, causing Twitter to erupt.
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A troll Instagram page then posted memes about boycotting Black Panther, which created a frenzy of social media posts blasting Black women for boycotting the film because of Jordan’s love life:
Now the funniest thing about all of this is that after an extensive search, I didn’t find a boycott. Not a hashtag. Not a point person doling out directives. Not an assembly line of Black women ready to stand outside of theaters to protest. I did find, however, people questioning the reaction to this invisible protest:
There are of course one or two Hoteps who probably are upset about Jordan dating a white woman, but not enough to warrant a full attack on Black women. And I’m willing to bet even those people will show up to Black Panther like the rest of us. The majority of the Black Panther cast is Black, it’s a superhero flick, it’s Marvel, it’s Lupita freaking Nyong'o. Please. No one is boycotting a thing.
This isn’t the first time Black women have been targeted after a Black celeb is discovered to be dating outside of his or her race. Hell, it isn’t even the first time people have attacked Black women over Michael B. Jordan dating outside of his race. It’s happened with Taye Diggs, Mike Colter, Lance Gross and the worst of the worst with Jesse Williams. A lot of it stems from manufactured outrage — people who suspect Black women will be upset with Black men dating interracially and react to their suspicion as opposed to what Black women are actually saying.
Black women against Black men dating interracially has been the narrative since forever. During the O.J. trial, Johnnie Cochran was fearful of having Black women jurors because of the fact that O.J. dated white women. The history of that narrative goes back even further than that. However, in the case of Black women boycotting celebrities who date interracially — it doesn’t hold up. Using that O.J. example, Black women were jurors on that trial and — spoiler alert! — he got off.
When we look at the box office, the numbers don’t support Black women not showing up due to a Black male celeb partnered with a non-Black woman. Jordan Peele’s Get Out did record-breaking numbers and there was virtually no backlash about him being married to a white woman. Same for Steve McQueen and 12 Years A Slave, which starred white wife-having Chiwetel Ejiofor. David Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King Jr. in the resounding hit film Selma? White wife. Honestly, if Black women really withheld support because a Black male celebrity dated outside of their race, we’d do nothing but watch Black-ish reruns.
Now, I’m sure there is something to the noise over Black women and Black men dating interracially. There have been dozens of articles and texts dedicated to dissecting what this means historically, politically, socioculturally and beyond. However, I don’t believe attacking Black women over Black male celebrities romantic choices will lead to any kind of productive conversation. Gaslighting Black women by calling them “miserable” or “bitter” isn’t community. It’s destructive behavior. And it needs to stop.
(Photo: Ernesto Ruscio/Getty Images)