‘The Flash’: The Ugly and Racist Treatment of Iris West

Like all West-Allen shippers, my heart is exceedingly full thinking about The Flash wedding. All that our favorite television couple has been through has set the stage for this magical moment.  Through unimaginable tragedy, Barry Allen and Iris West have managed to build and sustain the type of love that us sappy romantics dream of finding.  Nothing should be able to ruin this television event for fans, but there are some elements lurking in the shadows trying hard to do just that with their hate filled rants about Iris and even more pathetic, their hate towards the black actress who plays the part, Candice Patton. True fans of the show and good people in general see it and we are not here for it.

Patton was cast to play Iris West in the CW’s live action series The Flash around 2014.  Since the casting  she and others affiliated with the show have received vile racist comments and messages sent through social media.  Here are just a few examples of the filth they are subjected to:

I liked Barry with Patty. Fuck Iris. She’s a dumb ugly black girl. Interracial is not okay. It’s racist.

@grantgustin@ThatKevinSmith But in @CW_TheFlash Iris is a nigger.

These messages represent just a drop in the bucket of the openly racist viewers who don’t try to hide their feelings about Iris. There are others out there that try to muddy the waters a bit.  Though I do not and will never accept any grounds for racist abuse, I attempted to understand where this particular group of so-called fans was coming from. I truly tried to find some redeeming idea in the thought process of these people. After researching, I found there are particular groups where this hatred comes from, and there is no redemption in any of their opinions.

Here are the groups that I was able to sort hateful viewers into.  People who insist they are not racist, but are just not happy that source material is not being respected, pretend fans are those that claim “Iris is just not written well”, and finally, the chemistry police.  These are the viewers that say Candice and Grant have no chemistry therefore they disapprove of the relationship.  If these critiques were serious, there is definitely room for dialogue about the importance of comic book canon, the writing talent of those responsible for the show, and on screen chemistry. But, because these are simply disguises for their loathing of a black woman’s portrayal of Iris West, these people cannot be engaged in serious discussion.

The Iris West Canon Argument

The canon argument falls completely flat when these same people champion the casting of Grant Gustin as Barry Allen.  In the comic books, Barry Allen has blonde hair and blue eyes. Gustin has brown hair and green eyes.  The comic book Allen has a more athletic build than Gustin, who sports a leaner ganglier physical make-up.  All that aside, Gustin’s portrayal of the Flash has been roundly acclaimed, and rightly so.  His acting range and ability more than make up for the lack of physical parallel with his comic book origin. Gustin and Patton are the only performers from their show to win Saturn awards for their acting, so what happens when we try to put up this same defense for the casting of Patton?  Here is what you get:

Good news guys. The powers that be are rebooting Iris as we speak. They’re scouting for a white, redhead. #AprilFoolsDay

This user severely lightened a photo of Patton and gave her green eyes. The caption states:

“This is a fairly good improvement from the original”

So in order to be seen as an “improved” version of Iris, Patton had to be given white features.  This is disgusting, and to be created by those who call themselves fans of the show is disgraceful.

The casting of Jesse L. Martin as Barry’s foster father is in no way, shape, or form comic book canon, but where are the comic book enforcers with this television portrayal?  Sure it’s probably out there, but I could not find negative things being said about Jesse Martin’s character Joe West.  In fact, loving Joe West is one of the defenses that these bottom feeders use to repel the argument that they are racist.  What they don’t realize is that West-Allen fans and true fans of the show know the truth. The truth is that Joe doesn’t bother these crazies because Joe is not romantically or sexually involved with the Flash character.  Because black Iris West is in a full fledged relationship with Barry, there has to be something wrong with it.  The images of Iris and Barry as a couple rip at the very soul of these racists.  Engaging in this double minded thinking is the very thing that allowed blacks to enjoy some but not all aspects of humanity. Joe can be tolerated as Barry’s surrogate dad, but Iris in not allowed to be his lover.

The Iris West Story Arc Argument

Image result for iris west gif journalist

Over the last 4 seasons, Iris’s character arc has been questioned, even by the Patton. That being said, I would not be honest if I didn’t say I have questioned ALL of the Flash characters’ development at some point. That’s part of being a conscious consumer of television, in my opinion. The writing of any show is fair game for criticism, but what happens in some corners of The Flash fandom is that the criticism becomes very racist and often times misogynistic against Patton and no other character gets the same vitriol.  If Patton’s Iris West isn’t contributing enough to the team, she’s an airhead and if she becomes too involved in the team dynamics, she’s a bitch who doesn’t know science or have powers.

Iris West: Because “we’re the Flash”

Me: Bitch u dont have any speedforce in you @candicekp

Iris is a black useless hoe that stands around in club outfits giving pep talks. Bitch do you have a job?

They should have killed you instead of HR. Iris is a shit @candicekp

Why are you trying to diverse everything? Can Iris leave the show? If the person who wrote this fits a white person for the role just make it that way. Why cast an annoying black person?

No one has to agree with all the story lines of a show or even the casting of an actor or actress to play a part, but the racial digs always come in because the ugly truth is that they are at the core of the criticism and a racist person will always show his or her true colors in the end.

The Candice and Grant Chemistry Argument

Finally we have the on-screen chemistry argument, which is quite interesting.  The character of Iris West was the most challenging and last to be cast per the writers and show runners. Grant Gustin has been quoted multiple times as saying the chemistry he had with Candice Patton was apparent to everyone in the casting room. “As soon as Candice left the room, we all turned around and said that’s her”.   Patton was up against more seasoned actresses like KeKe Palmer, and it was her ease and playfulness with Gustin that helped her land the part.  Fast forward to today, when the television couple is on the brink of exchanging wedding vows and we still have people trafficking in the “Barry doesn’t have chemistry with Iris” bullshit laced with some of their racism to boot.

@EmilyBett is way better than that nigger @candicekp i bet @grantgust agrees

Why would barry even think about marrying a dumb ass nigger hoe like iris

Barry combines with everyone like Felicity, Cailtin, and Patty. Less with Iris

This show needs a supreme white couple @gberlanti

Not only do these nasty comments go to the actors and writers at times, those that speak up for the show get caught in the crossfire as well.  Friends of mine on Twitter are called black bitches, cunts, and other despicable names for supporting Candice or simply for questioning the logic of the arguments presented against Barry and Iris being a couple.  While all of this is a very sad commentary on social media and the ability to have discourse around race, what was more appalling and head scratching is that some racist posts came from other people of color.

As I grab my tissues and ready my heart to stop when Barry and Iris take the plunge, I am saving some for the tears I have for this fandom.  It has some very sick people in it, but after today, I am no longer sitting back and letting racists have the last say.  I may cry, but I will clap back as well.  So no matter how many bows they wrap around the chemistry and story arc arguments or how many cherries they place on top of the comic book canon excuse, their truth is transparent.

It’s fucking racist, period.

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  1. Candice Patton has proven to be one of the best actresses ever she is beautiful yeah she is black so what who ever said that People should be divided in racial groups Barry Allen and Iris west are the best couple in the flash that is the endgame, guys we are trying to make the world a better place but it seems like that is not working if we are still racist to each other we are all human being like water and rain #candice Patton will always have my support

  2. Seriously? I understand where tour coming from. And any sort of racism is not okay. But iris west on the show is a joke. Candice parker is a good actress but the way they have wrote her she is unbearable. Completely unbearable. Let me correct my statement.. since season 3 she has been an absolute joke on the show.. actually since season 2. I fast forward through all of her parts now.

    1. You’re what’s unbearable and so are the sea of white incels you probably circlejerk over Barry with!

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