Dwayne & Whitley Were Never Relationship Goals

Her Voice

It's one of the most iconic, more memorable and arguably one of the most talked about moments on Black television.

Everyone remembers how they felt the first time or hell even the 100th time they watched Dwayne run up the aisle, confess his love for Whitley and run off into the sunset with his new bride. It's every girls dream. But it shouldn't be.

I've literally watched the entire series of A Different World at least 60 times throughout my life but this time, season five (the season Whitley gets married) burned me to my core.

At 16, this scene was a classic example of a man who was truly in love and put his pride aside to go after the woman he loves. He realized that he would never find another woman like her and got his "shit" together to win back the love of his life. Why wouldn't anyone WANT a man like Dwayne?

Sure, he wasn't the type of man she was attracted to. And okay, maybe he didn't have even a third of the qualities on her checklist. But at least he treated her nice. At least he liked her. At least he…at least, at least, at least. I was only 16 but I knew this much, if my man didn't fight for me like Dwayne "fought" for Whitley, it wasn't real love.

But at 32, this scene has an entirely different message. I'm ashamed to admit that I once thought this was the ideal relationship. As I sat here and watched the season play out, I realized why I was so annoyed and bothered. It hit me.

I've met Dwaynes before and Dwayne was, is, and will forever be trash.

To put this into perspective, let's travel down memory lane:

The first season of A Different World centered around Denise Huxtable. This was the first woman he was infatuated with who, as to be expected, did not return the interest. Denise, much like Whitley, was completely out of his league, something he already knew but that did not stop him from constantly and often inappropriately, forcing himself on to Denise. It is important to remember that initially Dwayne did not want Whitley. In fact, he couldn't stand Whitley. He thought she was a stuck up, rich kid who only got into Hilman because her family had money. He didn't even respect Whitley as a person.

Going back as far as the very first season, Dwayne was constantly making fun of, harassing, and belittling Whitley for how she talked, the way she dressed, and often poked fun at her making reference to what he assumed to be her "lack of intellectual capacity." Denise leaves, crushing his dream for Einstein babies with hippy style, so now he's left with no one to fancy. In enters Whitley.

The woman he once considered to be an annoyance has become less repulsive and more like a challenge.

He accepts.

He knew that she was out of his league and that she wanted a certain type man, and made it a point to constantly berate her and the standards she had for herself, guilting her into thinking that wanting more was a problem. She finally falls in love with him. She loves this man so much, that even the threat of losing her inheritance wasn't enough to make her end it.

She was completely gone. He had her. Over the course of their relationship, Dwayne the Nerd transforms into Dwayne the Stud. He dresses better. He walks differently. He talks with more confidence. People listen to him when he speaks. They take him more seriously. And while no one will say it out loud, that respect comes partially (or primarily) from the fact that he is dating Whitley. He was always smart. This goes without saying. But he wasn't respected. He had it all.

Then, Dwayne screws up.

The night before Whitley is set to leave for her summer job, she overhears Dwayne talking on the fire escape with Ron about the doubts he was having about them separating for the summer.

Ron challenges him, stating that if he really wanted Whitley, he wouldn't be giving up so easily. This challenge attacks Dwayne's ego sending him into a mini man-tantrum, all of which is heard by Whitley. On the night of her departure, Whitley tells Dwayne that she has also been thinking, and she doesn't think that a relationship is something that they need at the moment.

Uncertain of what just happened, and with his pride on the ground, Dwayne does the unimaginable. As she disappears into the dark, Dwayne in one last desperate attempt to reclaim himself, screams after her, asking her to marry him. The season ends with Whitley stopping in her tracks, turning to face him and the episode ends.

The following season opens with Dwayne and Whitney now living together in their new quarters on campus. Whitley is chasing Dwayne around the apartment, demanding that he give her the ring she had been waiting for all summer. That's right. She accepted the impromptu proposal sans ring and it appears that the couple is "happy". Everyone is getting along. Everyone is looking forward to the wedding. Dwayne is still the "man". Life is good. And then, Dwayne screws up again.

Feeling as if he is missing something, he makes the decision to entertain another woman hours before his engagement party. Whitley, feeling hurt and betrayed by Dwayne calls off the engagement. When you think about it, Dwayne is the definition of the "nice guy/nerd" who just wants to be your friend but he really is just silently waiting for the right vulnerable moment to make his move.

He went from being her annoying bothersome headache to being her "goofy, dorky friend" to the man she fell in love with. Sounds romantic, right?

He watched her moves. He watched who she dated. He listened to her problems and made sure that he was the first ear to listen when she needed one. On the surface, it sounds sweet but when you snap back and think about it, considering how it all played out, it's a little disturbing.

Whitley then happens to meet a dashing young aspiring Senator who is completely in awe of her. They immediately hit it off and quickly land into a relationship. Byron wants nothing more from her than her. She doesn't have to change who she is. She doesn't have to pretend to be "humble". She doesn't have to settle or go without. It's the relationship she has always dreamed of, and before Dwayne, the kind of thing her dreams were made of. Soon after, Whitley gets engaged and Dwayne finds out. He is enraged.

How dare she get engaged? This was supposed to be a phase. She wasn't supposed to really get serious with this man. She was supposed to wait.

Dwayne waits until the night before the wedding to make his move. He makes his way into Whitley's presence by arriving unannounced to her home, and makes this announcement of remorse and regret for all the things he has done. He must really love her, right? Because only a man truly in love would wait until the night before your marriage to another man to show up and apologize for hurting you all those months ago.

He tells her that the pressure she was putting on him before to "do better" was exactly the type of "pressure" he needed to "get his act together". And suddenly, on the eve of her marriage to man who doesn't "need" her to pressure him, he's had this epiphany. Whitley's eyes begin to tear up as she is now forced to once again remember what she was trying to forget. He then turns to her and asks her if they were all of that to each other, why didn't their relationship work? He watches Whitley choke.

Before she can answer, he jumps up in a "welp, that was fun" manner, stating that he didn't know why either. Being sure to leave no corner unturned, he grabs a flower from the garden, kneels down on one knee, hands the flower to Whitley and says, "I always knew you would make a beautiful bride, Whitley Gilbert."

He leaves, stopping only for a second to catch one more glimpse of a now emotionally distraught bride sitting in the garden crying.

Now, she's confused.

She was already having doubts but now what? She decides to go through with getting married, or at least try to. She should be happy, but she's torn and she doesn't know what to do. Everyone around her is excited and beaming with joy and she is struggling to keep a smile on her face. Then, the iconic scene begins to take place.

Everyone at the altar has taken their place. Whitley has successfully been walked down the aisle. Her family and friends looking on in awe of how beautiful she looks. And then, Dwayne makes his move. He had her cornered. It was now or never. If he was going to be successful in his plan, he had to put on extra. He had to do something, anything, to prove that he was the better man, because his ego would not let him lose. So, he did the unthinkable.

He crashed her wedding, coming in proclaiming his love in front of her, her family, all of their friends, Byron and all of his constituents.



He cried. He screamed. He begged. He fought. He was hoping that this public display of sincerity would win him the prize of having Whitley Gilbert as his wife, and it worked. No woman wants to see the man she loves cry. With that said, Whitley looked at the man who had done nothing wrong but love her, apologized for wasting his time, and then ran off to hug the man who fought for her love. But he didn't fight for her love. He fought for the right to call her "his". He fought for his ego.

Whitley made the decision that a lot of black women tend to make when dating and picking partners:

We allow our emotions and our need to see the "potential" in a person to cloud our judgment.

We hear a good word from a slick tongue and see a glimmer in the eye that looks like a tear, and we are ready to throw away all of our common sense and all of the lessons that history has taught us, in hopes that this time around it will be different. Certain opportunities only come around once in a lifetime and we will throw all caution to the wind for love.

Love is beautiful when it is healthy and productive. Love is a beautiful thing when it is grounded on mutual respect and growth.

Who knows who, what, or where Whitley would have been if Dwayne hadn't seen her as a conquest that needed to be conquered. Would she have ever met Byron? Would she have married someone else like him? Would she have ever gotten her dream of being the "trophy wife" she always dreamt of being? Regardless of whether you agree with that type of lifestyle, it was her dream and she was allowed to want that for herself.

Whitley was a challenge. She was difficult. Her demanding nature, her refusal to settle, her ambition, her firmness...all of which made the chase that much more exciting. He completely stripped Whitley of all that she was, and she became a mirror of him. This is how most Dwaynes operate.

Dwayne and Whitley's storyline was a toxic tale of a male's ego and the damage it can cause to a woman if she's not careful and diligent in protecting herself.

Don't be Whitley. Marry Byron.

This article was originally published by https://www.jenniferrenee.co.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer.

This is Maya's story, written by Charmin Michelle.

I know this may come to a surprise so many, but here we are. Yes, I got a BBL. If you aren't aware, a BBL is a Brazilian Butt Lift, a cosmetic surgery process where the doctor uses a combination of liposuction and fat-grafting, transfers the fat into the butt, resulting in added volume, defined curves, and a lift. It is technically lipo and a fat transfer. But yeah girl, this has been on my to-do list for a while. And now that I am able to afford it, I went for it.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Adulting is hard but packing up and moving from one living space to the next is even harder. As a young adult, leaving home to attend college 300 miles away, I was yearning for a change of scenery so much so I couldn't wait to pack my belongings and head to sunny southern California. With each transition, it wasn't an easy task, however, nine years and 10 roommates later, I finally have a place to call my own. As liberating as it is to be in a space that's all mine, this move is unlike any other. As a single woman, the responsibility of uprooting myself has been more challenging than I ever imagined. More than just saving dreamy home decor inspiration via Pinterest, making "my house a home" has been a process that's easier said than done.

Keep reading... Show less

Earlier today, I was talking to one of my closest male friends about some closure that he got with a particular woman in his life. She was someone he had met online and, although they were digging each other, she actually liked him more than he liked her. "Liked" in the sense that she wanted to move forward with the potential of it turning into something more serious and lasting, while my friend was fine leaving things casual. When he told me that she called him to let him know that she had met someone else who was on the same page with her and so she thought it would be best that she and my friend cool things off out of respect for what she was building with someone else, I appreciated my friend's response. He said, "Man, that made me respect her so much because a lot of women play games out here. She was direct, it was a 'clean close' and that makes me open to always staying in touch, no matter what."

Keep reading... Show less

If there's one thing Historically Black Universities are known, it's fostering a sense of interconnectedness for collaborative genius to thrive. Of all campuses, it was on the soil of The Mecca, Howard University, where She'Neil Johnson-Spencer and Nicolette Graves rooted their friendship and aligned their passion for beauty and natural brains. Today, the two have founded a skincare brand of their own, Base Butter, that has not only carved out their niche space in the market but rallied a community of women to glow from the inside out.

Keep reading... Show less

While I'm pretty sure that all of us get the gist of what body language is, if you're looking for a way to easily define it, it's when you use your mannerisms and expressions (including one's tone) to communicate with other people. Although it's been said for many years that 90 percent of communication is non-verbal, more studies are revealing that it is somewhere around 60-70 percent. Either way, what we do know for sure is, when it comes to how people respond and react to how you engage them, your body language plays a really significant role.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Find Confidence With This Summer Workout Created By A Black Woman For Black Women

Tone & Sculpt trainer Danyele Wilson makes fitness goals attainable.

Latest Posts