For almost every social circle I have encountered, I hear the same constant killjoys about black love.
“Relationships are overrated.” (But you still want to be someone’s #ManCrushMonday)
“I don’t want everyone in my business.” (And yet, people will be regardless)
“I don’t believe in labels.” (But you are still low-key possessive about your terms of dating.)
As a black millennial, it often pains me to see that the young love era that I grew fond of from watching my mom’s old-school films (Love Jones and Jason’s Lyric are some of my favorites) might not happen for my generation.
It’s easy to blame social media or the music we listen to, but I think it’s deeper than that.
To be honest, over the past 20 years, I argue that the parents of our generation have pushed an agenda that has declared more social independence and sexual liberation at the expense of monogamy.
And this is not to say that I’m a conservative prude that is calling for traditional households (I’m currently in a gay relationship and fairly liberal.) But it does say something for a generation of young black men and women who are being culturally construed not to dig deeper than just hook-ups and casual dates.
Judging by the looks of mass media, we have been skewed not to trust each other. Whether through pop culture or these pseudo relationship gurus (looking at you, Steve Harvey), our parents’ generation has capitalized off of telling us that “brothers are no good” and “sisters are the enemy.”
Further introspection has even perpetuated the stereotypical tropes of the angry black woman and promiscuous buck of the black man. Culturally, black men continue to appear as hypersexual and aggressive, lacking emotion and an ability to hold themselves accountable. Sounds familiar when you think of the rhetoric of how black lives continue to be discounted for the same ignorance.
Black women, on the other hand, continue to be placed in the sweeping generalization that they are loud, angry, self-serving, and justify this by the way that “black men ain’t (insert any profanity you probably heard your mother, aunt or older sister say).”
As a result, this instilled fear and insecurity has carried on to us. Young black men my age are scared to commit to a relationship because they have “trust issues.” The black women in my social circles want to date, but also question their ability to have some control in the ordeal and question the loyalty of men as well.
And we won’t even delve into how much of a mess this becomes when you add in colorism and black beauty politics. It’s even nastier how old-fashioned stereotypes on dark skin vs. light skin, straight hair vs. natural, has shaped our horrifying ability to love and respect each other when it comes to dating.
Again, I blame it on the problematic lessons passed on to us from the generation before us and their parents.
Because when I hear a 13-year-old girl at the grocery store say she won’t ever get married because he will get her “pregnant and leave,” we have developed a wall of improper misjudgment for any man of color she plans to forever date.
When my little brother is at school and feels the pressure to define his masculinity by being a “playa” and having tons of girls’ numbers in his phone, but is encouraged not to call them — we are perpetuating a cycle of problems that are doomed to end us.
I love social media and blogs, because it reveals the truth about our world, but I can’t stand it for the same reason for it reminds me how wicked and disgusting we can be as a people.
For those before us that love to post Facebook videos of how your child’s father or mother doesn’t take care of the misbehaving child you are now trying to shame to the world: You are part of the problem.
To the producers of Love and Hip-Hop and other similar “reality shows” who profits off of the constant dysfunction and exploitation of black families and relationships: You are also part of the problem.
And all of the comics, corny life coaches and unintelligent dating professionals that have attempted to make a living off of finding ways to unfairly act as though blacks are less human in our ways of seeking love and understanding, please stop now.
Consequently, an entire generation of black millennials has learned how to “think like a man,” rather than be treated respectfully by one. Black men have been groomed into assuming that long-term commitment is like a prison sentence, when statistically we are better off in the former than the latter.
But this is where the complaints end, and the solutions begin.
Overall, we need to start dismantling the cultural vernacular and jargon that has invaded our tongues about our fellow brother and sister. Let’s make less sweeping generalizations about each other when we still have many decades to explore.
I’m so sick of hearing “black women are so… (insert tired and pathetic insult)” when you’re only 23 years old. And if you have never had a serious relationship in your life, stop saying that there are “no good black men left” just because you haven’t found one yet. All of these played out excuses aren’t doing any of us good and only separating us from ever loving each other.
Nostalgically, I want to believe that there was a world where we loved fearlessly and sought to be more direct about it. Today, our generation stands at recreating this with more inclusion, power and liberation through various expressions of genders and orientations.
Black love might look very different from how our grandparents had it, but it still deserves to exist.
Even if it starts with the swift quickness of an Instagram double-tap, some clever Twitter re-tweets and some thirsty (but flattering) Facebook likes.
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