Candice Patton is the Hero We All Deserve
If you watch The Flash (Tuesdays at 8/7c on The CW) you know who Iris West-Allen (nee West) is, and more importantly, you know who portrays her. For four years, the lovely Candice Patton has graced our screens as the brave and witty reporter turned team leader, and helped solidify The Flash as the CW’s top-rated show. Thanks to Candice, we’ve entered a point in time where young Black girls finally get to see themselves as the ingenue, but that journey hasn’t been without hardship for her. Since the casting announcement was made there’s been a lot of racism from certain groups regarding a Black actress playing a character who has always been drawn as white, and over the past week that sector has risen again.
This time, Candice was informed that a white man who chose to date or marry a Black woman was a “loser”, referencing Iris’ relationship with Barry on the show, and she responded with her typical aplomb. Candice rallied the “losers” and fans from around the world chimed in with beautiful pictures and stories of their interracial relationships, and it reminded me, once again, exactly why Candice is so very important to all WOC, past, present and future. Before Candice stepped into Iris’ shoes, one was hard-pressed to find a Black woman (or any WOC) playing a prominent role in a superhero franchise, whether that be film or television. We’d had Halle Berry as Storm and Catwoman, but I can’t think of any others without doing a deep research dive.
One of my favorite quotes from Candice is: “I have to be strong and continue to deliver, because this is bigger than me. It’s not about just this role, it’s about the landscape of film and TV. It’s about the young girls coming after me. I need to keep that door open for them. To show up at work and do my best and change and impact as many minds as I can.” In my opinion that’s something that Candice is doing admirably well. Since Iris’ TV debut, we’ve seen a massive uptick in the number of Black women in superhero films including Thor’s Valkryie (Tessa Thompson), Justice League’s Iris West (Kiersey Clemons), Luke Cage’s Misty Knight (Simone Missick), Black Lightning’s Thunder (Nafessa Williams) and the entire cast of Black Panther, just to name a few.
I didn’t plan on writing this brief opinion piece, but I felt compelled to after seeing Candice’s grace. I admire the strength she exudes, her never-give-up attitude, her awareness of her ability to help shape the current mainstream media “look” and wanted to say “Thank you.” Too often Black women are expected to be strong and to bear the burdens everyone tosses at us, without gratitude or recognition, so to Candice (and all the other Black women in her shoes): I see you, we see you. You are appreciated more than you know and, most importantly, you are not holding that door open alone. We’ve got your back.