Candice Patton On Why The Flash Doesn't Talk About Black People

The Flash Season 4 episode 1, "Reborn."
The Flash Season 4 episode 1, "Reborn." CW

It’s no secret Black Lightning will have a degree of cultural density The Flash does not. This topic was at the center of conversation during the “Shades of Heroism: DC Heroes Through The African American Lens” panel at DC In DC.

“It’s a tricky thing, to discuss that kind of content. For me as an actor, I would need to feel like I had black writers and creators carefully handling that topic,” said Flash star Candice Patton. “It’s also the show isn’t about the West family. It’s Barry Allen's story.”

Even though the show is about Barry Allen, he did grow up in a way most white people will never experience.

“I always wondered, what was it like for Barry Allen growing up in a black family? We joke about it all the time behind the scenes on the show. Like this boy could probably dance,” Patton continued. “He probably loves my fried chicken.”

While The Flash must keep focus on Barry Allen’s story in relation to the West family instead of vice versa, Patton says there may be opportunity to deeper introduce black culture within Barry and Iris’ interpersonal relationship.

“The lighter sides of a black woman and a white guy dating. As far as the deeper issues of Black Lives Matter and police brutality, it’s hard on a show like The Flash where we are telling Barry Allen’s story, which is why I’m so excited for Black Lightning.”

The Flash may not address real world issues head on, but the perception of the character of Iris West will forever be different than the way she was originally created in the comic books. The impact of Patton's performance has inspired fans anticipating the Flashpoint movie to petition to #KeepIrisBlack.

“Iris will live in imaginations as a woman of color. It’s not about the way I look, but her personality, her strength, her character and people are seeing beauty in her and that’s important so young girls who look like me feel beautiful and desirable and smart.”

Stay tuned for more coverage from DC In D.C.

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