Freeform’s ‘Good Trouble’ explores polyamory in Black relationships
EXCLUSIVE: Actress Zuri Adele chats with theGrio about her character Malika's liberation through polyamory. Outside of the realm of television, there are thriving Black polyamorous communities.
Zuri Adele believes she has found the role she was meant to play in the Freeform series Good Trouble. In the show’s third season, her character Malika Williams, has discovered her place in the world through family and friends; which centers around her Blackness and romantic relationships.
“When I first read and auditioned for this role I felt so connected to the character particularly for her passion for Black liberation as a means of collective liberation,” Adele told theGrio.
In this new season, Malika arrives at a place of self liberation and explores what it means to be polyamorous — a move by the show’s creators and writers Zuri says she was happy to take on. “Polyamory isn’t something that I have practiced in my personal life but I have been able to lean and draw from experiences of people who are close to me,” said Adele.
That research combined with deep conversations with show creators and writers allowed Zuri Adele to take the character Malika on new and exciting frontiers. “It was really clear that the show runner wanted to bring a level of humanity to this storyline,” Adele said.
For context, according to the dictionary, Polyamory is defined as the practice of engaging in multiple romantic relationships, with the consent of all the people involved. A 2016 open letter in the Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships devoted to polyamory in the Black community looked at the community as a whole and concluded that it’s estimated that 4 to 5% of the adult population within United States are openly engaging in polyamorous style relationships. Black Americans are substantially underrepresented in that percentage.
“I love the way that we are including this conversation in each script for the show and bringing to life how normal is it to live a polyamorous life and it be OK,” said Adele.
Outside of the realm of television there are thriving Black polyamorous communities. Houston Texas residents Devon and Danielle Stokes-White are the founders of Black Poly Nation, an organization of roughly 34,000 members. “Black Poly Nation is the largest organization of its kind that has ever existed,” according to Devon White. The Whites started the organization two years ago out of a need to belong to a community.
“When we were introduced to polyamory it was hard to find any sense of community especially in our area so that was one of the motivating factors for us going full steam in creating a community for other likeminded people,” Stokes-White added.
As a couple they are leaders in creating a space for other polyamorous people where they can explore and learn from one another. “We spend a lot of our time creating content for the Black polyamorous community,” said Devon White. They welcome the idea that shows in the mainstream are creating a space where representation and conversation around topics that are often considered taboo can be explored. “The community that we have built is really great because you have built-in friends who understand how you are feeling,” said Stokes-White.
Good Trouble in its third year run has brought thought-provoking and engaging conversation to life through the lens of Generation Z. The show, whether it be the Black Lives Matter movement or relationships centering-around heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality in healthy ways, has moved the needle forward in how audiences may view someone different from them.
In this season, Malika’s exploration into polyamory is no different as Adele’s take on the script and character provides levels of humanity and normalcy to a subject not many people know much about.
“I really pray that people understand that our purpose is to live our most liberated lives and if part of that is polyamorous structure that can be liberation for them,” said Adele.
Kelsey Minor is a two-time Emmy winning freelance reporter based in New York City. You can follow his work on Twitter @theKELSEYminor.
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