In the film Something New Kenya McQueen a senior manager at a prestigious accounting firm, is on the verge of making partner. As she approaches the pinnacle of her career she realizes that her personal life has gone lacking especially in the love department. After spending another Valentines Day alone Kenya agrees to a blind date with Brian Kelly, a handsome and free-spirited landscape architect who turns out to be not exactly what Kenya pictured for herself and on top of that he’s white.
As the movie progresses and they spend more time together as Brian is doing some landscaping to Kenya’s backyard sparks fly and a relationship begins to blossom. Like most relationships, the first 3 months have their ups and downs and Kenya decides that it will just not work. Nelson, Kenya’s spoiled younger brother then introduces her to his mentor, Mark, who at first glance has every attribute Kenya ever wanted; he’s black, intelligent, well read, successful, and just as ambitious as she is. Now Kenya is confused, she has everything she wants but she’s not happy.
Ultimately, Kenya has to decide for herself and follow her heart – no matter where it takes her. “Something New” doesn’t necessarily advocate for black women dating white men, says its producer, Stephanie Allain. “We wanted to put something on film that we haven’t seen before…. Why shouldn’t we have choices as women? Just as we can be sitting at a table [in a business situation] with 12 white men looking at us for our opinion, it was high time to show a woman in that position being sought after by a lot of different men….
It echoes the promise of endless possibilities that haven’t always been available to us. ” (page E. 16 Los Angeles Times) Often times, we have in our minds the ideal man that we should be with: their height, weight, financial situation and race, but ultimately, the best person for us is the one who treats us the best. When I first met my husband I was in awe of how like my father he was and he was constantly telling me how much in common I had with his mother before I even met her. Society dictates to us who we should date, and the type of person we should be in a relationship with.
Often times you may see a handsome man with someone who in your opinion he does not match with. That man has taken the time to get to know someone intimately, not sexually, but intimacy of the mind. When Kenya and Brian first met they were in a predominately black neighborhood and while no one was really paying them any attention Kenya was uncomfortable and tried her best to affirm her culture by randomly making comments to various strangers. While Brian on the other hand who was the only white person in the cafi?? was not even phased but immediately picked up on Kenya’s unease.
Ultimately, we are attracted to those who are like us, but does that mean it is only an attraction based on race? When Kenya was told about the perfect man from her co-worker, she automatically assumed that he would be African-American. Little did she suspect that her co-worker not considering the race factor felt that they would be a good match for one another. As Kenya and Brian get to know each other and he brings color into her otherwise beige life she begins to step out of the box that she’s created for herself. The question remains is it enough?
Can she ignore the fact that he can never understand her struggles or can we blame him for not wanting to constantly visit the race issue? In this movie things were reversed, Kenya grew up wealthy with highly educated parents, privileged life filled with cotillions and Ivy League schools and with all of that she is just as insecure as she is proud. The couple’s first big argument is centered on race. At the end of a long day while walking around a grocery store, he says he’d like to take a night off from talking about race, and she goes off. You don’t have to think about being white,” she says. “Every day I’m in a room full of white people. That’s what being black is about. You don’t get a day off. ” So the question asked is what she said to harsh? In my opinion there was truth to what she said, being black is a constant thing and it’s a full time 24 hour a day job. I also understand Brian’s frustrations in any relationship you want to have a time where you don’t focus on the negative especially after a bad day. Interracial relationships are more challenging and fragile than marriages between two people of the same race.
In this scene as they are arguing you see individuals of various races walking past them and based on their expressions it is apparent that they are being judgmental. While Brian is trying to maintain a level of discreetness Kenya is constantly getting louder. This outburst is the final straw in a relationship that was fragile from the start. Kenya begins dating Mark who a aforementioned is her brother’s mentor and the Ideal Black Man (IBM). He is everything she thought she wanted.
There weekends are spent doing paperwork and sitting on the couch with there laptops quietly typing away. Her mother is elated with her choice of a mate and practically goes into convulsions when he mentions the idea of marriage in the near future. Now that Kenya is with Mark she has everything but she is unhappy and bored with the pattern they have fallen into. Kenya finds herself conforming to Mark where with Brian it was about spontaneity and not thinking outside the box but realizing there is no box. With Brian she had passion and with Mark stability. In many ways, Brian is the antithesis of Kenya: He takes things as they come, she’s a manic planner. He’s brash and exuberant, she’s quiet and reserved. He’s a dog lover with a passion for the outdoors; she hates dogs and is content to spend the day in the office. ” With Kenya’s mother in her ear pushing her toward what is right and her friends in the other ear tell her to let it Go and let it Flow, Kenya is in the middle wanting to do what’s right and finally realizing that no matter what she will never be good enough for her mother.
Kenya finally begins to realize that it was not necessarily her family but her own personal prejudices, her own guilt, her own shame and embarrassment about what her peers thought and keeping her from her true love. “Going in, I think people expect that it’s about race, and then they experience the movie, which is really a love story,” she said. “It’s about how Kenya blossoms and learns to think and follow her heart. ” While this movie takes a great look at interracial dating I believe the true heart of this movie lies with Kenya.
From start to finish we see Kenya doing the right thing at times denying her own happiness for what is expected of her. As the movie progresses we see Kenya finding out that instead of stepping outside the box she realizes that there simply is no box. Kenya has a strong sense of culture; she knows who she is and where she has come from. By accepting and participating in each others’ culture, Kenya and Brian can create a never ending cycle of the growing wisdom of more than one person.