The recent viral video of a random white dude proposing to his girlfriend sent chills down my spine.  I am not a hopeless romantic, but I am hopelessly in love with the potential and future of the black family in America.  For some reason, there was something about this video that lit a fuse in its viewers, leading me to reflect on some of the barriers that keep all of us from showing our best selves when we enter into relationships.

I am no relationship guru, but I resubmit that if Steve Harvey is qualified to talk about relationships, then so am I.  When I speak with my daughters about love, I think about the bitterness that some of us can have from past disappointments, creating a tough shell of cold disregard to protect the most vulnerable part of our spirit.  We enter relationships with itchy trigger fingers and toxic predispositions, causing us to wait for the other person to do something that will confirm that he/she is the dog that we expect that person to be.

In the black community, the lack of trust between men and women can sometimes turn love into war.  Starting with the first disappointments from the missing father or a college heartbreak, love can become an exercise of saving face and not being played, which is not conducive to building lasting families.  As a result, divorce rates are through the roof, babymama-itis is at an all-time high, and STD rates are skyrocketing as people in their twenties and thirties bounce from one broken relationship to another.

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What I enjoyed about this video is that there is something amazing that happens when one party doesn’t allow fear to keep him/her from expressing deep-seated affection for another person.  The man in this video made himself look like a damn fool to show this woman how much he loves her.  Not to say that we should get all of our cues from white people (you know how I feel about that, they are no better than us), but there is something that can be learned from everyone, and this guy teaches all of us a great lesson on love.

If your relationships consistently fall apart, or you find that your so-called love life has become a haven of treachery and emotional espionage, you might want to take a look in the mirror and determine if the person  you see is emotionally equipped to take the risks necessary to experience true love.  You must also determine if you are capable of identifying people who will reflect that love back at you and not selfishly absorb it in order to maintain control.  Without taking risk, there is little reward, so you can’t expect to witness the highs of lasting love if you live life with your cards held close to your vest.

That’s what I learned from the random white dude proposing to his girlfriend.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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