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JENNIFER'S GEMS
by Jennifer Brown Banks

Challenging Stereotypes
(About Love)

Whether we admit it or not, most of us hold stereotypic views about certain races, genders, and classes. Because it's not always “politically correct” to express them, we may not verbalize our beliefs, yet they define how we relate and connect with others. Sometimes those stereotypes may even be on an unconscious level.

For example, the other day, while channel surfing, I happened upon an OPRAH segment that featured comedian, Dave Chappell. Although I am a fan of his work, I didn’t think he would be an engaging or informative guest. After all, he’s a comedian. Right?

 

To top it off, this A.M. time slot typically competes for my attention, as there are several programs that I enjoy that air at the same time: Divorce Court, Regis and Kelly, and Family Feud. But, curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to hear first hand why Dave had reportedly walked away from a 50 million dollar contract for his show. And boy am I glad I did!

Much to my surprise, he wasn’t his usual silly self. Here was a man who was eloquent, reflective, and very intelligent! He spoke at length about social responsibility for blacks, being caught up in the rumor mill, and how fame and fortune can sometimes challenge one’s value system and cause tremendous stress.

Suffice it to say, I learned a thing or two!

After the interview ended, it dawned on me how we often miss out on valuable experiences in life due to preconceived notions - particularly relationships.

I thought of how many singles sabotage their romantic futures because they buy into existing myths without having first hand facts. Or they fail to evaluate situations on an individual basis:

In the recent hit movie Something New, starring Sanaa Lathan, we are confronted with many of these stereotypes and preconceived ideas regarding love. The movie is a very tasteful and terrific account of interracial dating. Lathan, a beautiful, high-powered partner at an accounting firm, meets Brian, (a blue-collar landscaper), on a blind date arranged by a mutual friend.

When she meets him in a local Starbucks, and discovers that he’s white (although hot looking), she immediately ends the date by making some excuse about having a lot of work to get home to.
She later hires Brian as a landscaper for her new home, but assures him that it would be a business deal only, in that she doesn’t “do white men.”

Not only is he white, but there’s a class issue operating as well.
She’s from a well to do family, (her dad is a doctor), and is initially concerned about appearances.

To make a long story short, she becomes romantically involved with Brian, but faces opposition from friends and family members, and begins to doubt her decision. So they break up.

She then dates a sexy Black lawyer (with whom she was fixed up by her brother), thinking they would have more in common because they’re both black and successful “professionals”. Big mistake! As the movie progresses, she discovers that love is not about color or class, but two people connecting on spiritual, physical, and emotional levels.

It's a great, "feel-good" movie that I highly recommend.

When it comes to dating and mating, see how many of the most popular stereotypes you are guilty of buying into. Which statements below are true, and which are false?

All men are "dogs".

True love only comes along once.

All the good ones are taken.

People who use dating services, or date online, are desperate.

Blind dates always have dismal results.

Men are intimidated by strong, successful women.

People who date interracially are romantically doomed.

Black women have attitude problems.

All women are gold diggers.

Long distance relationships never work.

All women are crazy

Single parents make poor potential partners.

Younger guys are immature and make bad boyfriends.

Women should always make the first move if they see a guy they like who doesn't express an interest.

If a woman is not married by the time she's 40, there must be something wrong with her.

If you answered "false" to all of the above, you’re correct! Don’t let love pass you by because you have fallen victim to myths and mistakes. Define happiness on your own terms, and don’t be afraid to open your heart and discover your own love truths.



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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.


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