It all started one night when I was sitting on my couch, listening to Terence Trent D’Arby. As a 28, going on 29-year-old, I was only a kid when his music was popular, but I still remember hearing his songs throughout the house as a child and watching his videos on MTV back when MTV actually showed music videos. As I listened to “Sign Your Name” (1987), one of Terence Trent D’Arby’s famous ballads, I decided to YouTube the video to further enhance my trip down memory lane.
* “Sign Your Name” – Terence Trent D’Arby (1987)
As I watched, the video portrayed the story of Terence, a mixed Black/White (Scottish/Irish) man who loved and lost a White French woman; their light-skinned, curly haired, brown-eyed child caught in the crossfire between the complicated love of two complicated adults.
Screenshots from official music video for “Sign Your Name” by Terence Trent D’Arby
After watching the video, I immediately thought to myself…
“How many other music videos highlight multiracial love?”
Continuing my late 80’s, early-90’s nostalgic journey, I thought about the catchy “Jungle Fever” (1991) by Stevie Wonder from the hit Spike Lee movie Jungle Fever and its story of an interracial relationship between a Black man and a White Italian woman in 1990’s New York City.
“Jungle Fever” – Stevie Wonder (1991)
In the late 90’s, there was the sexy futuristic video for “If You Can’t Say No” (1998) by Lenny Kravitz, where Lenny, a mixed Afro-Black/White Jewish man professed his love and loss for Mila Jovovich, a famous Ukrainian model and actress.
“If You Can’t Say No” – Lenny Kravitz (1998)
And of course, the video for “They Don’t Know” (1998) by Jon B., who everyone said “sounded Black,” but was a White man who displayed his secret love for a Black woman.
“They Don’t Know” – Jon B. (1998)
As for music videos showcasing interracial love into the 2000’s, many of us may remember Justin Timberlake’s video for “Like I Love You” (2000), his first single as a solo artist after leaving N’SYNC. The video showed him, a White man, trying to win the affection of a Black woman.
“Like I Love You” – Justin Timberlake (2000)
There was also the ballad “Lost Without U” (2007) by Robin Thicke, which featured then wife Paula Patton, as they engaged in a sexy flirtation. This music video also recounted a love that was lost between a White man and a mixed Black/White female.
“Lost Without U” – Robin Thicke (2007)
And most recently, Adele, a White British woman pined over a love lost with Mack Wilds, a mixed Irish/Afro-Dominican man, in her video for “Hello” (2015).
“Hello” – Adele (2015)
Despite these videos showcasing love and romance between interracial couples, they are predominately just a visual that comes with generic songs about love and heartbreak. The actual topic of interracial love is not overtly sung about. There are some examples, however, as few and far between they may seem. Auburn, a Black female rapper from Minneapolis, has received negative feedback by rapping about her Asian boyfriends and using Asian men to portray love interests in many of her music videos. In her song “My Baby” (2013) Auburn states,
“I know people look at us and they wonder why we’re attached because our skin don’t match.”
“My Baby” – Auburn (2013)
Other noticeable songs from the 2000’s which explicitly discuss the intricacies of interracial love are “Long Way To Go” (2004) by No Doubt front woman Gwen Stefani and member of Outkast, André 3000. The two sang about how love is love, regardless of color, but how society still has a long way to go to fully embrace the notion of colorblind love.
“Long Way To Go” – Gwen Stefani feat. André 3000 (2004)
There is Alicia Keys “Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” (2009) which directly expressed what it was like to engage in an interracial relationship when such an idea was still very taboo.
“Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” – Alicia Keys (2009)
And lastly, Robin Thicke’s “Dreamworld” (2009) which has Robin dreaming of a world where he states, “There would be no black or white, the world would treat just treat my wife right, we could walk down in Mississippi and no one would look at us twice.”
“Dreamworld” – Robin Thicke (2009)
It is interesting how the videos for the songs I have mentioned which feature multiracial love are stories of love that was lost, stories of heartbreak and misery. The stereotypical tragedy of mixed-race plays out even in mainstream music. How come we do not see music videos where multiracial love flourishes? How come we do not hear more music about interracial love from a variety of perspectives, not just couples who are Black and White? Why are artists not singing about multiracial love in general? And why does interracial love have to be so difficult, even within the language of music, which is supposed to heal all when other remedies do not work?
The acceptance of multiracial and interracial relationships are higher than ever before, yet, popular music has yet to catch up to the claim. This all may be a moot point now that music videos are not what they used to be. Maybe a resurgence of the music video in the future will help propel interracial love into a new spotlight. Thankfully, interracial couples are still being seen in the media, from TV commercials to clothing ads. But it would be great to turn on a good song knowing there is a music video somewhere out there showcasing the beauty of multiracial affection, to see that multiracial love is not to be lost, but that it can be held onto long after the music fades.
*The original music video is no longer available in this country. The version of the video provided is a live version of Terence Trent D’Arby performing “Sign Your Name” live at The Roxy in 1988.
**Image from Google Images.
***Image from Instagram.