With Valentine’s Day upon us, it’s this time of the year to celebrate love, happiness, and relationship. It’s the time for lost souls to find their mates. Should it also be the time to be real about love?
Just like Christmas and other popular celebrations, Valentine’s Day is this one moment of the time when we call a truce to freely seek for and honour love and relationships. Now, I am sure many of you remember your first letter, box of chocolate or secret Valentine. Don’t you remember that feeling of hope that this year will be the one? This year will be the year you find your true love. So, I thought I would invite you to talk about love.
Let’s start with a love story from the past. On a bright distant July evening in 1958, a newlywed couple has just returned home from Washington D.C. to enjoy their honeymoon in their Virginia love nest. Oblivious to the world outside them, Richard and Mildred were in awe of each other. Just like all newlywed couples, they were cherishing this love they had found in what was supposed to be the safety of their home. While they were peacefully asleep the unspoken happened: the State Police barged into their bedroom and arrested the couple for being married illegally because they were an interracial couple.
Shocking! But, this was dark ages when in the United States a court could rule against interracial marriage. Although fighting the law overshadowed a good 9 years of their marriage, it seems that Mildred and Richard Loving story had set a precedent (Loving v. Virginia) for future interracial marriage in the United States. Unfortunately, history is replete with sad examples of barricades erected worldwide against love.
Now in the 21st century is love free of human barriers, prejudices, and ethnic and racial walls?
It is frustrating all right that the government can decide to tell you who you can love, who you can spend the rest of your life with. It is equally upsetting when parents decide to meddle with your love life and try to choose for you. Isn’t it? It was of course ancient times when parents or the village could choose your future husband or wife. Only old and strange culture would marry babies. Today these are alien concepts to us.
So, I am asking is freedom of love a reality?
In today’s society, freedom of speech, freedom of same-sex marriage, or freedom to come out of the closet and be who we really are seems to be the new motto. And yet love is faced with new obstacles. Love and marriages resemble mainstream society to a point the genuineness of the phenomenon becomes questionable. Marriage seems to be more like social obligations than the outcome of love. What are we pursuing marriage for? Is it for social stability and social status? Is it to please our family, friends, and peers? Is it to fit in? Is it for the enjoyment of spending our life with someone we love? The latter seems very unlikely. No wonder, there is this popular narrative of black women who feel excluded from the marriage circle, as if marriage was a social club.
In an interview with For Harriet, University of Maryland Professor Philip Cohen states that there is an education gap between men and women, which affects the black community in particular. “You do have more black women marrying husbands with a lower level of education than themselves”. So, there is a relationship between marriage and education level? Professor Cohen adds: “There are things working against the availability of men for black women” and those things are believe or not “the bad news” related to “Black men”: “mortality, incarceration, employment problems, and unbalanced intermarriage rates the deck is stacked against black women.” Should marriages and relationships be confined within a racial circle?
Why should marriage be based on social and cultural factors such as education, race or ethnic groups?
Well, it would seem that money, education, and social status represent the perfect recipe to find the perfect mate. The story goes like this. On a perfect day in America, a Princeton University alumni, Susan Patton, decided to give current female students one good piece of maternal-academic advice: “Find a husband on campus before you graduate”. For the Princeton Mom, as coined by the media, the reason is simple enough because after academia, “you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you”.
Following this vocal outburst, the likeliness-unlikeliness belief has been spread through the net like the narrative about black women, particularly the educated ones being less likely to get married than their white counterparts. The timeline is not really clear nor the reason Black women mating life has stood out. However, it seems that a Brookings study, Single black female BA seeks educated husband: Race, assortative mating and inequality has set the tone.
From there, strange and unexpected phrases came out of nowhere, such as ‘assortative mating’, which apparently means “the decision to marry someone of a similar educational status” and ‘married down’ that stands for women “opting for men of lower social classes”.
Is it me or is there a segregationist discourse here that tends to keep Black women on a tight leash even in their love-life?
Meanwhile, more people have quickly joined the mating crusade. Articles, blogs, tweets, Facebook messages, you name it; most of them with a focus on Black relationship. Once again, the black community is under the spotlight for questions of inequality and discrimination. Black women’s dating and marriage habits are being dissected and consideration is given to the chance of finding the perfect mate for a Black woman: an educated and richer Black man with good social ranking (no prison records; influential studies show that most of the married-age Black male population is or has been incarcerated).
Looking at the saga, the only prominent outcome seems to be division. Once again a fragile nation is being divided; once again the Black community is being torn apart in the name of something that is supposed to unite people: marriage. Surely, the irony is not lost here.
On one hand, there is this persistent and widespread discourse about Black weakness, unluckiness, violence, and neediness. On the other hand there are groups of Black female that took the opportunity to point at inequality, racism, and deception from their male counterparts for marrying out of the Black niche. Now I know how complicated relationship can be . So, why adding racial division to the puzzle? Besides, what is wrong with marrying someone from another ethnic or racial group? If it was not okay when governments could rule against interracial marriage, why should other institutions or individual bring it back to the table?
I think it should be clear to everyone that the right to choose someone to live with belongs to the lovers. Shouldn’t you be the one to decide of what is good for you and your future? Why let some university studies, some so-called advisors, your parents or your friends dictate your choices?
While this blog focus on the United States lovers everywhere can relate to the issues. There is no place in the world where in a form or another, institutions and people haven’t tried to control the love-life of others. A man or woman who finds love outside his or her group (Religion, race, village, social ranks, pedigree..) always pose a challenge to long-established taboos.
Where does love lie in this whole mating structure, anyway?
Love is the most powerful feeling that human beings have ever experienced, right.
An unknown author once said: “the best relationships are the ones you didn’t expect to be in; the ones you never saw coming.” (From Board of Wisdom)
I believe he or she is right. Why running after love, after relationship? Chances are you might get lost along the way or worse, get overwhelmed with statistics and prophets of doom predicting bad omen for your future – and eventually lose hope.
Love should be free of social clichés, racism, or cultural barriers and understanding. Sounds
more like a dream, but dream is what keeps us going forward. It’s because of dreams that today the sky is not the limit anymore.
Just remember that in your love life, you’re the boss. From this Valentine’s Day forward, stop running after the perfect matching significant other. Instead, open your heart and let love find you. Open yourself to diversity because love is colorful but race-blind and cultureless. What really matters in the end, isnt-it to be with someone who truly loves you?
It is wrong to try to institutionalize such a free and powerful feeling and instruct individuals on how, when, and where to love. Love has become an alien feeling to us to the point that we need dating lessons, love apps, love experts, and more common today e-dating agency to make the the first step on our behalf.
Whatever happened to our natural tendency towards loving each other?
Are you now in the market for love? Dare open yourself to love and you may be surprised of the happy and unexpected outcome. Have encountered obstacles on the road to nirvana? Feel free to share your story with us.
A note on diversity:
The term diversity carries an ambiguous meaning. For the purpose of this blog, the word hasn’t been considered in its first sense: “the state of being diverse; variety” or “a range of different things”. A preference has been given to its contemporary meaning, where diversity represents “the inclusion of individuals representing more than one national origin, color, religion, socioeconomic stratum, sexual orientation, etc.: diversity in the workplace”. (Dictionary.com)
However, this blog post focus on biracial relationships and marriages between Black and White people, a paradigm all racial and ethnic groups can easily relate to.