Why can’t successful single black women find a man? Come on. Are we still singing this same old song. Nightline, please!
I thought that we left this in the 00′s. Especially when statistics show that 44% of black men are never married vs. 42% of black women. The official Miss Picky says every man and woman regardless of race deserves not to settle. Love is supposed to be fun. Let’s talk…
Megan Carpentier at Jezebel.com asked me to weigh in on this topic. Here’s the definitive single black women article featuring the brilliant Twanna Hines, Latoya Peterson, Sister Toldjah along with Abiola Abrams (me). And here’s my full article.
Today’s Kiss and Tell Report.
Sixth grade was my last year in coed education. After that my parents and I made the genius decision that I would enter a snooty all girls prep school for the remainder of my adolescence. Seemed like a good idea at the time but that’s a different article. And by article I mean therapy session.
I had a wise-cracking wizened old teacher, let’s call him Mr. Goldstein, who used his ‘I’m one of you’ schtick and stale jokes to push us. Goldstein actually managed to be amusing and relevant despite his advanced age. He was ancient. Like 30 years old at least. Anyway, in a stroke of teaching brilliance Mr. Goldstein turned our weekly quizzes into contests. The top 10 students in the class would to attend a fun-filled after school pizza party.
This was a huge friggin’ tween deal because it meant we girls had 4 opportunities a month to hang out with boys without being chased, hit, or wielding a joystick. What kind of joystick you manipulated depended on how ‘fast’ you were.
Being the reigning queen of the geeks and an over-achieving suck up meant that I was on the inside track to attend every pizza party. Luckily big butts were in style in my ‘hood. With some cajoling maybe we could even get Goldstein to play New Edition or Salt N Pepa. What better way was there to have your own personal Theo Huxtable jammin’ on the one?
The first few times that Goldstein dangled his pizza party carrot the top 9 kids out of 10 who qualified for the after school jam were girls. We had fun together and enjoyed our extra cheese but really missed the boys. Now that I think back, a big part of the boys not doing as well probably had to do with the uncoolness factor in urban schools surrounding achievement. For the other issues surrounding young black boys and learnin’ check out educator Jawanza Kunjufu.
But after 3 weeks of pizza parties that looked more like an episode of The Facts of Life than the hot gooey pizza filled co-ed Breakfast Club orgy my raging hormones craved it was clear that the girls were ‘winning.’ Something had to change.
What did Mr. Goldstein do at that point? Did he yell at the girls for overachieving? Berate us for being so accomplished? Tell us to aim lower and not leave our peers in the dust? Remove the standards to allow the boys their opportunity at high cholesterol and heartburn? Or tell us girls that we were stupid and desperate young bitches destined to die alone for even wanting to share the soiree with boys?
No. Mr. Goldstein challenged the 6th grade boys to step up to the plate and be men. He chastised the underachievers. He lectured them and offered them after school tutoring. He encouraged us girls to share photos and stories of our pizza party high life to tempt the dudes to get it together. And step up they did. Eventually the pizza party winners were almost 50/50.
Why am I sharing this now? A deep longing for ghetto Queens pizza? Well, yeah. But also it’s been reported that Nightline is once again tackling that poignant 00s question, “Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?”
Chris Ariens at MediaBistro reports that: Nightline’s Vicki Mabrey and talk show host Steve Harvey moderated a “Face-Off” debate between Sherri Shepherd, Jacque Reid, Hill Harper, and Jimi Izrael for an upcoming episode. [Video: My Interview with Hill Harper about black people and love] Pardon me while I lean out of my Harlem window to hurl on the last junkie left in the alley.
Haven’t we pummeled this horse to death already? Or at least put it out to pasture in The Washington Post, Essence Magazine, Ebony on The View, Oprah, and yes, Nightline. I haven’t had this many people in my bedroom since college. But that too is another therapy session.
For those of you new to this single black woman “debate” here’s what usually happens in these episodes: The host rallies off statistics like, “If you are a black woman with a degree you have a better chance of being one of Tiger Woods’ mistresses than getting married.” They then throw up graphs to show the percentages of black men who don’t graduate high school, who are in jail or gay, the rest who choose to date interracially. They highlight the fact that black women are least likely to date across racial lines.
At this point in the program several high achieving, successful women are shown with all of the degrees, hair relaxers, dreadlocks, Loubatin shoes and designer accoutrement that can fill the screen and asked what they look for in a man. Then like any other human being on the planet the women simply state what qualities they seek in a mate.
For example on my fame-whoring gig on the Drew Barrymore-produced “reality” series VH1′s Tough Love my list was: Single black female seeking a man that I am attracted to, who is kind, smart, gainfully employed, spiritual, funny, community-minded and available. For that my character was dubbed Miss Picky. Really? Are there people out there seeking someone unkind, not smart, unemployed, and unavailable? Methinks not.
So if a man is not interested “he’s just not that into you” but if you are not interested you’re too picky or something is wrong with you. Got it. Here’s the thing- all of us – even those in arranged marriages have a concept of what we seek in a partner. We may or may not physically list it out but the list is there. Do what works for you.
Obviously the great 6th grade pizza experiment wasn’t a clean test kitchen of the full psycho-socio-economic issues facing black men and women in America. But WHY are women being berated for wanting to date people that they like and have things in common with. This is absurd.
Why isn’t anyone addressing the men?
I think that most of us, even some Republicans, will agree that we are all created equal. People are interested in dating and marrying people who have the same interests they do. People tend to meet people primarily through work or in their social circle. Anyone can find just any man or any woman. What I hear from my friends – male and female – of all races is that they are seeking people they find right for THEM.
The insane thing is that this conversation has taken on a vicious black woman-hating tone– much of it from other people of color including black women and men. [Video: The Reason Black Men Jump Ship] This strain of the argument goes, “Black women are all nasty bitches so black men don’t want them.”
As a certified platinum certificate holder on nasty bitchiness with best friends of both the Becky and Keshia persuasion I can tell you that nastiness comes in every race, creed and gender. [Video: Black Men Seek White Women Because Black Women Are Too Angry]
Another strain of the conversation says that these women are caught up in the fairytale and want some unrealistic version of the prince. And men are exempt from fairytale ideals? Ever seen a barbershop wall? Or whom men cast to play their love interests in movies and music videos? How about whom wealthy men (including athletes and the like) with the largest dating pool choose to pursue?
Here’s the real deal– we are all seeking our Kings and Queens. That’s why Larry King is on his 8th divorce. As for being sold a fairytale we forget that men are taught the same fairytales that women are, and they too buy in to whatever their culture reinforces. For some that fairytale may be that the man should be a prince; for others that fairytale says that the man should be a pimp.
Enough of reinforcing this “no good men” prophesy. My father and brother are amazing black men so clearly this mystical white whale exists. Marriage numbers are down across the board because many women (gasp) don’t want to be married. Many people are living paperless with their life partners. They don’t register in these stats. As for the swirl, I too also used to feel like I only wanted to marry a black man but I’ve since grown to realize that I am seeking commonalities and attraction. Duh. [AbiolaTV Throwback Videos: Still Taboo and Black Women & Interracial Dating]
It’s an amazing time to be a black woman. You have Tyler Perry and Steve Harvey to give you relationship advice, Chris Rock to offer commentary on your hair, and Bishop TD Jakes to resolve your salvation. And Nightline to make it all make sense for you. Goddess bless America. (And a special inside shame on you my corporate TV partners for changing my Goddess references to Princess to make me “more accessible.” You know who you are.)
I have much more to say but I am way over my word count. Apologies. I am West Indian and prone to excess. Find me at AbiolaTV.com on Twitter @AbiolaTV or Facebook at xoAbiola to continue the conversation.