Wedding Week: "Jumping The Broom" Addresses Racial Hangups While Marrying Ancestral Tradition

Jumping the Broom poster.
Uh oh!
Sabrina Watson has done it again!
“I promise you, God, if you get me out of this situation, I’ll only share my cookies with the man I marry,” she exclaims subconsciously.
Jumping the Broom is Arlene Gibbs first screenwriting credit.
Jumping The Broom, co-written by two women — Arlene Gibbs and Elizabeth Hunter (Beauty Shop and Abducted: The Carlina White Story), beats up tired stereotypes, plays religious poker, and opens up a can of scandalous worms at a wedding for two successful African American lovebirds who’ve only known each other for six months- Sabrina Watson and Jason Taylor.
Exciting, smart, and worldly, Sabrina is a formerly licentious woman seeking to change her approach in regards to relationships and calls on the Lord Almighty for aide; promising to stop fooling around with unworthy men. Salvation arrives in the form of Jason. After she accidentally hits him with her car, she apologizes profusely and makes it up to him by introducing refined, cultured sides of life- theaters, opera, and art galleries all while vowing celibacy. He certainly doesn’t mind waiting for the latter and enjoys the pain free newness she brings to his life.
By month five, Sabrina has received an opportunity of a lifetime — a promotion in China. Jason doesn’t appear thrilled; saying that he can’t be in a long distance relationship. This breaks Sabrina’s heart in an awkward scene. She gives him back gifted red rose, stares sideways at him, teary eyed, looking for validation and a singer’s serenade grows louder as quiet tension builds between the couple.
Jason (Laz Alonso) springs on the ultimate surprise for Sabrina (Paula Patton).
But alas, Jason proposes, wants to marry immediately, and move with Sabrina to China! A man willing to change lifestyle habits, possibly career, and fly around the world for a woman? Yes!
Opening credits roll with black and white montage celebrating happily wedded blissful couples still carrying on a tradition used in weddings today.
Jumping the Broom focuses on two strong customs — one being jumping the broom that has predated slavery, which Jason’s mother Pamela strongly supports, and saving sex for marriage. Sabrina and Jason obviously have strong physical desires for one another, but they’re willing to postpone physical intercourse and are continuing to know each other on various intimate levels- emotional primarily. This isn’t essentially common in most romantic films, especially an African American centric film.
Jumping the Broom co writer, Elizabeth Hunter.
Yes. The introduction reveals Sabrina to be a bit promiscuous, but she seems to always be regretful and ashamed by one night “cookie” stands. She commits to moralistic goals in ironclad obligation; having to even “fight” Jason off with a few kisses and eloquent French tongued whispers to temporarily dampen his arousing impatience.
The opinions that run amok between Sabrina’s and Jason’s prospective parties include many stereotypes in ideas of rushed marriage. Some believe that Jason has gotten Sabrina pregnant including Claudine, Sabrina’s overbearing mother. It brings about this peculiar lifelong notion that if both parents are unionized into marriage sanctity, the unborn child would be protected from the “sin” of being born on the wrong side of the blanket. The added plus is that the woman would be a wife and “saved” from “Baby’s Mama” label. Others, the ones who know that Sabrina and Jason haven’t slept together, believe that Jason is either cheating or being on the “down low.” This is also particularly disturbing. It’s incredibly mind-boggling that a man who can refrain from sex must be unfaithful or gay! When Jason confesses that he can hold out longer- a few weeks, but still, it just suggests that patience truly exists in the world. He was probably a monk in his past life.
Lauren (Tenisha Davis), Sabrina (Paula Patton), and Blythe (Meagan Good) have pre-wedding girl talk.
The filmmakers are validating these society extremes and addressing that Sabrina and Jason’s friends should not incite intrusive gossip without honest facts and have a lot to learn about real love and integrity.
However, “jumping the broom!” is one tradition that Sabrina and Jason are dead set against and this infuriates Anger Management attendee Pamela to a heated rage.
It’s the formalistic Capulets versus the Montagues reincarnated as angry spiritual working class black lady verses the high cultured, fluent French speaking mother who- gasps- has traced her roots to her family actually owning slaves and says this in a boast filled breath.
Shondra (Tasha Smith) and Pamela (Loretta Devine) at the post office discussing Jason’s wedding.
At first, aristocratic Claudine Watson looks to be a cold, frozen wave of upper crust vile, but is instead a misunderstood, determined, intelligent woman bottling emotionally layered scars underneath sarcastic exterior. She believes her husband, Greg is cheating on her, has a severely strained relationship with her sister, Geneva, and doesn’t take well to the “ghetto” presence Jason’s family brings to the eloquent Watson Estate on Martha’s Vineyard. However, the shocking fact that her infertility, an unbearably complex subject matter to address, is revealed in a gutturally delivered slap that is just as painful sounding as the back palmed hand that delivers it.
And Pamela Taylor hears all the soapy juiciness. Now there’s a reason she wasn’t invited to the brunch held a month prior to the wedding date. It wasn’t because she works as a loud, outspoken, and rude post office worker. She has apparently ruined every relationship Jason’s ever had. Upset that Jason doesn’t want to carry on the family tradition and that ignorance is definitely not bliss when the Watsons have an angry French tirade about her “backward”comments, Pamela nastily destroys Sabrina’s perfect upbringing in front of everyone. It’s kind of pathetic that she can be hurtful, cling to Bible like a shield, and believe her actions are just. This allows Jason to finally give her an ultimatum- she has to change (as in be a mother figure to him) or not be in his life.
Sabrina (Paula Patton) with the woman who raised her, Claudine (Angela Bassett).
After brutal climax, Geneva tells runaway bride Sabrina the bitter truth about her parentage- she’s the product of an affair Geneva had at age sixteen with a married man in France. With the hefty amount of French the Watsons kept speaking, it’s safe to say that Paris is definitely the new Las Vegas. Except well, what happened in Paris didn’t exactly stay there, but at least the infertile Claudine and Greg got to love Sabrina from the start. Geneva gave Sabrina to Claudine because she was married which comes back to stereotypes of children born out of wedlock. Two parents are not only better than one, but a much stronger unit, especially married and this message cannot be implanted enough. Geneva may have been from a rich family, but Claudine had the motherly instincts she didn’t have at the time and it’s been quite obvious that Geneva was making up for that.
Jason (Laz Alonso) and his mother, Pamela (Loretta Devine).
Although the Watsons are not seen reading Bibles as much as Pamela is, the holy presence is stressed so strongly that it binds these two families like an invisible cord.
Gibbs and Hunter’s story also shed light on contradictions that sadly still exist. Julie Bowen’s character Amy plays the white servant who mutters ignorant racial fodder- “why is she so light” when seeing Claudine’s sister, she impermissibly touches Shonda’s braids like she was at a petting zoo, and complains about the chef who sees Jason’s family as being “chicken folk.” Funnily enough, Jason’s immature and equally ignorant cousin, Malcolm says comments such as “you’re pretty for a dark skinned girl” (the ugliest and most hurtful insult to a colored woman) and has a white people hate complex, but winds up being the one to dance with Amy. Maybe both of their prejudices are supposed to cancel each other out?
Before committing fully to Jason once more, Sabrina understands her family and accepts the truth.
Differences become swept aside. Claudine’s marriage isn’t as heartless as originally appeared and Pamela sets forth to live in the present. Other ladies find unintentional romance post nuptials. Stylish, sophisticated, Blythe- the best friend/maid of honor, fell for a poetic, complimentary sampling chef while charming, free-spirited, Shonda- joyously soaking in the Vineyard getaway and fighting hard against a younger cougar worshiping college man finally succumbed to his lips. Even Geneva lets her guard down a bit and dances with Uncle Willie- a man of slithery pick up lines and unlikable wisdom.
Sabrina (Paula Patton) and Jason (Laz Alonso) are married and will have cookies later!
At the wedding, however, Sabrina and Jason may have started off with their own traditions, but the moment they jumped over the broom and smiled hard at Pamela, the couple gave an appreciative nod towards history and fulfilled the screenplay’s destiny.
Jumping the Broom may borderline on containing too many preachy sanctimonious moments, but it teaches spiritual lessons that symbolize the “something old” wedding gift. It doesn’t matter where a person comes from. Whether it’s from the ghetto or the suburbs, one must value themselves first and then create personal hierarchy of what matters most- partners, family, friends, and successes. For Sabrina, she just wanted to be in love and share her cookies with a good man worthy enough to marry.
And that she did.