Denzel Washington, White Women and Turbulence

Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy analyzes the intent and interpretation of the actor's kiss with Flight co-star Kelly Reilly.

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Denzel Washington and Kelly Reilly in Flight (Paramount Pictures)

Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy analyzes the intent and interpretation of the actor's kiss with Flight co-star Kelly Reilly.

For his part, Washington has noted that Hollywood, historically, was reluctant to put interracial relationships on the big screen, that he has no problem with it but won't do it just for the sake of getting a reaction out of viewers.

But he's done it now.

"It took me by surprise," Mildred Bailey, an information technology specialist for D.C. Superior Court, told me after the movie.

Toni Blocker, a retired visual information specialist with the D.C. government, was blunt about it. "The relationship was awkward and didn't work for me," she said.

(I happen to think Washington deliberately made the kissing scenes look awkward, like he was kissing a window pane, a signal to black women that his heart really wasn't in it.)

"I just sat there thinking: ‘Why couldn't they have found a black actress to co-star with Denzel?' " Blocker said.

Washington has spoken out on that problem, too. During an interview with the London Observer in February, columnist Alex Clark asked him about the barriers facing African American actresses.

"Black or white, there seems to be a cut-off for women," he said. "Don't have a couple of kids; you're out the door. They're constantly looking for the younger one, the younger one, and for African American women, women of color, it's doubly hard. And then for dark-skinned African American women, it's even more difficult."

Read Courtland Milloy's entire piece at the Washington Post.

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