CHELSEA GARDNER | STAFF WRITER
Is it possible to sustain loving relationships in the black community? Does black marriage still exist? These often thought-provoking and challenging questions are given realistic and forthright answers in Hill Harper’s novel, “The Conversation: How Black Men and Women Can Build Loving, Trusting Relationships.” In September 2011, one of the headlines on the front page of Essence Magazine read, “Is Marriage Just For White People? One Man Asks” When I stumbled upon this, I was livid. I could not understand why someone would make such an accusation. But after reading the article, my thoughts began to change. Before winter break, I discussed with my friends what this article could possibly mean. My male and female friends were willing to share their opinions and perspectives on the issue. One of my friends suggested that I read Hill Harper’s 2009, “The Conversation.” I decided to take my friends advice and after break I got the answers I was searching for.
Hill Harper did an amazing job of exploring the dynamics of black relationships. He discusses the successes and the failures. He also tackles commitment and communication, as well as divorce and marriage. He confronts the damaging cycles in black relationships from the perspectives of males and females. He did extensive research to format his novel from couples and singles. His research pinpointed communication as the direct hindrance in sustaining a loving relationship. Clearly, communication is still an obstacle in the success of our families. Therefore, I think it is necessary and high time that we start having this conversation in 2012.
I really appreciated the way Hill Harper tailored his novel in a way that allowed him to communicate with audiences from various ages and generations. He offered up questions and ideas that could really benefit our age group. I am reminded of Drake’s verse in the “Unthinkable” Remix.” He starts off by saying “Ugh, Tez keeps telling me he just turned thirty, having dreams of being single forever, he’s getting worried, and I’m scared too…” As a young person listening to these lyrics, we often begin to anticipate these same fears and feelings in our future. Here is Drake, yes somewhat always overemotional, discussing some of the same issues Hill Harper tackles in his novel. Instead of turning to the music to explain things, which is often something, we as young people do. We should, instead, delve deeper into the lyrics and pick up a book.
It is necessary for every student to read this novel. It is our duty as the future of America to end a cycle of often-damaged relationships and help build strong, long-lasting ones that our ancestors once shared. Hill Harper gave us a gift with this masterpiece and we must be willing to accept it. Ultimately, he challenged us, as African Americans, to improve our relationships in the black community. Having read the novel, I understand certain aspects of my culture so much better. I often shy away from reading self-help framed novels but Hill Harper took me on a journey with his words. As I watched his growth unfold in the novel, I realized that anyone and everyone could have a sense of enlightenment when reading it. It was brilliant!