Whitney Houston's The Bodyguard role opened up interracial dating

Categories: Rap/Hip Hop
"If it wasn't for Whitney, I wouldn't be married with a beautiful kid and wonderful husband today" says Lisa. "She changed the game by kissing Costner." Lisa is a black 30-something wife and mother of one who lives in Eden Prairie. Her husband is white. "We met at Tropix [an old downtown nightclub] years ago, I actually went up to him. And we have been together ever since."

This past week, memories, tributes and tweets have highlighted Whitney Houston's talent, beauty and her voice. But one thing that has gone unrecognized is another achievement: The impact she had on interracial dating, especially between black women and white men. Who knew how powerful that image would be of Whitney slow dancing with Kevin Costner in that country saloon?

When The Bodyguard was released in the winter of 1992, it was a box office hit and winning soundtrack, obviously. But little is talked about the social barrier it broke down, a romantic story between a black female and a white male. Whitney and her star power made it easier and gave more confidence for a black woman to ask out a white male or any other race for that matter, and made it socially acceptable. 

Others don't believe so, like Tisha from Minneapolis. "I can't say it made it easier. Whitney Houston played a superstar singer, and for some reason, stars and athletes are an exception. A white woman, for a black man is a sign of status that he's arrived. Your average black woman doesn't come with that same connotation in our society. But the movie definitely helped to open up people's minds, and the result of that is evident today." 

Tisha is now dating a racially mixed Irish/Asian man from Bloomington. "I couldn't wait around for a Denzel, they are scarce in this city, and the ones that do have their act together are already taken. I like where I am at right now" 

Due to the simple lack of black males in the small city of Minneapolis, and because many of them date white women, black women look outside their race. To black women, Whitney locking lips with Costner on that airport tarmac left them less awkward and more comfortable about the approach, or the possibility of dating a white man.

According to recent research, black men are more than twice as likely as black women to marry someone outside their race -- 24 percent to 9 percent. 

"I always looked up to Whitney, and seeing that movie made me realize, their are other options for love out there," says Lisa. "I didn't have a big butt or breasts anyway, so the fellas were not really trying to check me. I was too athletic for them. But if I did try to date outside my race, I would get teased, mocked and harassed, even though some of them were dating white women, I was looked at like the traitor" 

Lisa met her first white boyfriend at the Brookdale Mall in the mid-'90s while shopping for tapes at Musicland. She asked the salesperson for help and they ended up dating for the summer. But it wasn't always the summer of love. 

"My father didn't react well when I finally introduced the two," says Lisa "My dad literally threw him out the front door as he fell down the front stairs onto the lawn. I was forbidden to see him and I went off to college that fall and never saw him again." After college she headed to Tropix to celebrate her older sister's birthday, and, well, you heard about the rest. 

But acceptance is changing, even since the days of The Bodyguard, about 83 percent of Americans say it is "all right for blacks and whites to date each other," up from 48 percent in 1987. As a whole, about 63 percent of those surveyed say it "would be fine" if a family member were to marry outside their own race. 

Movie and music stars like David Bowie, Robert De Niro, Jon B, and Robin Thicke all have dated or married black women, and stars like Halle Berry, Kerry Washington, Thandie Newton, and Zoe Saldana have dated or married white men.

So to some, Whitney left a huge catalog of music, beautiful smiles and practically reinvented "The Star-Spangled Banner." But to a few ladies, she made it all right to test the waters to find their love. Wonder what ever happened to Lisa's first white boyfriend? Well, he's writing this article. I will always love you.

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I agree with the thought that race is not matter is loving a person.. It is the feeling itself to the right one.


Interesting take but I think it goes both ways and more in favor of Mr. Costner. Kevin Costner made it thinkable for white men to find a black woman attractive. Not that they never did before. But I have often thought about his choice of Ms. Houston. This was a really bold move on his part. He had just won two Oscars. Was wildly popular. Yet he chose a black singer (a superstar in her own right but still no acting experience) for this movie. And not only did he chose her...he WAITED for her a whole year until she could come on board. Plus, her race in the movie or rather, the interracial aspect of their affair was not even mentioned. Purposely. It was just boy/girl stuff. I think in this age of freer dating between ethnic groups, we have forgotten just how amazing it was for him to do that. After all, Ms. Houston was a cross-over artist. If the movie bombed, she'd still have a singing career. Can't say the same for Mr. Costner.  So instead of a lot of kudos to Ms. Houston, I'd say 'Bravo' to Mr. Costner for having the guts to stick to his guns regarding Ms. Houston. He was right in every single choice he made regarding her in The Bodyguard.


I really connected with this article because I was in an interracial relationship for 12 years. I was a white male dating a Sikh(east indian) female. I wouldn't really give much thought to the whole movie part of your article but I found it very interesting in all the other points. My relationship ended sadly 4 months ago when her parents would never accept me and made her choose between myself and her family and their arranged marriage..Thinking about her welfare I made the decision for her and told her to go with her family and be happy in time. I know she will be happy with her new husband once they adjust to each other but its a choice I made out of my love for her. It still hurts every day but I'm trying to fix myself one day at a time.


This is interesting. Surprised to see this connection. Me and myfamily grew up listening to the Houstons. I can also relate to some ofthe things said in this article about black males and their preferencein woman. That's their journey. But if a sista steps out with a white,asian, latino guy all hell breaks loose on the block. That's beengoing on for years and still will. But if I can find a better, stableand secure life with someone other than the color of my skin, then gohead! I wouldn't connect The Bodyguard to it, but it did make mecurious after seeing the movie when I was young. Maybe it subliminalplanet a seed that I just noticed now.


Are you kidding? That's the most ridiculous connection I've heard made. I'm sorry but Huston is given way, way too much credit.

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