Jacqueline MacInnes Wood and Texas Battle courtesy CBS
Stephen Colbert claims he doesn't see race. Is the same true for today's soap scribes? The Bold and the Beautiful recently revealed that blonde bimbo Donna Logan secretly gave birth to a mixed-race child back in high school. Now grown up, hunky Marcus has moved to L.A. to find his mom - thereby outing her to everyone - and is already busy romancing young white heiress Steffy Forrester. Nobody, including Donna's snoopy sisters and in-laws, seems to notice - much less mention - that the kid is black.

B&B message boards are abuzz over the situation, with many fans applauding the soap for not playing the race card, while others claim that modern society isn't that progressive and ignoring the color of Marcus' skin - they're calling it "the elephant in the room" - is unrealistic and ridiculous.

"It doesn't matter and shouldn't matter that Marcus is black," says B&B chief Brad Bell. "We don't mention it because we're not in the business of telling our viewers what to think." This week, Marcus and Steffy will engage in some extremely steamy pre-sex. "I expect to hear from people, black and white, who don't like it," Bell admits. "At the same time, we've got viewers saying, 'Thank God, Marcus has arrived!' Our core families on B&B have all been white. They want to know what the hell took him so long."

Interracial romance is common these days, from Guiding Light to One Life to Live to the departing Passions (easily the most color-blind soap). But it wasn't always so. "Peter Bergman lost his job when All My Children put our characters [Angie and Cliff] together in the late '80s," recalls Emmy winner Debbi Morgan. "Back in the day, soaps used to have what was known as 'the black story.' We broke that rule, and Peter paid the price."

Flash forward 20 years: Erica Kane is making out behind bars with the guy who put her there, African-American politico Samuel Woods. AMC head writer Chuck Pratt says he's not sure where this budding romance is headed, due to actor Mario Van Peebles' busy schedule on Damages. But if Erica and Sam ever do get conjugal, it'll be no biggie. "We'd never make race an issue," Pratt insists. "Considering who's running for president, why would we?" - Michael Logan