Monday, December 28, 2009

We All Can't Be Michelle and Barack Obama: A Commodity Greater than Gold--Black Women Discuss the Near Impossibily of Finding a Good Black Man

I didn't know that I was so valued! Where are all of my queens hiding?

Whoa is the state of Black America when Steve Harvey is our resident expert on black relationships. I will have a guest this week (or perhaps next) who will be chiming in on the black marriage gap (sounds like the missile gap of the Cold War, no?). For now, some impulsive and less than well considered thoughts--that is my way of asking the women folk to not be too hard on a brother.

Who is to blame here? The brothers or the sisters? If you look at the out-marriage statistics, most people of all races (even Asian women who are the most likely to out-marry) marry within their own race. I have many female friends who often recite the "all the good black men are with white women" line. My response: most black people are dating each other. I submit that we only tend to notice those dating across the racial line because while increasingly common, those pairings remain relatively atypical.

More generally, how do we explain attraction and chemistry? In addition, how much do marriage markets play into this (i.e. the pool of available partners in a given social milieu given one's expectations and willingness to trade one trait for another--income, education, attraction, race, age, etc.)

What of these sisters' standards? Only men who are 6 feet tall? 50 requirements? The likely response from these (quite beautiful) women would be that white women don't settle, so why should they? My intuition: the grass is always greener on the other side. Based on my observations white men are often as raggedy as black men, and white women are not having that easy a time of it. Am I wrong?

Finally, are these sisters looking in the mirror and asking themselves, "is there something about me that is turning folks off?" In the immortal words of Michael Jackson should these women start with the man/woman/person in the mirror when looking to explain their situation? Being really provocative, are some of these women damaged goods? Is their "singledom" a function of a self-fulfilling prophecy where bad choices lead to more bad choices and negativity attracts negativity?


Pandora Bunny said...

After flipping through the book "the conversation" a few days ago, I've been thinking about this topic a bit.

I'm a firm believer in like attracting like. If sister's got a problem, then there's a good chance her man will to. And if you believe Sex and the City, all single men over 30 have some flaw-which is why they are still single.

At the same time, there are many eligible black men who are more interested in playing the field-it's all demand and supply-than trying to form committed relationships. It just seems worse (than players from other races) since there is a "man shortage" in the community.

Anonymous said...

I'll not be visiting your blog as long as this nonsense -- in standard, nonsensical fashion, no less -- is being discussed. Have fun....

Shae said...

I'm just a white woman, and worse, one who didn't watch the video as I can't do videos at work. So take what I have to say with a grain of salt.

All suggestions in your post being potentially true, aren't these two things true also:

1. Black men date/marry white women more than black women marry/date white men, probably due to sociolocial factors which make the former feel (even if only subconsciously) that they are marrying "up" in status, while the later feel they are giving in to the oppressor? If so, that means the pool of black men for black women to date is smaller than it perhaps is for other race combos.

2. Women live longer than men, and men date younger women more than women date younger men, further reducing the pool of potential dates.

If these things are true, then the pool of datable black men is mathematically reduced, even if other factors could improve the situation (black women looking in the mirror, opting for shorter than 6 foot, and so forth).

Al From Bay Shore said...

"Based on my observations white men are often as raggedy as black men, and white women are not having that easy a time of it. Am I wrong?"

This is often the counterargument presented against Black people who engage in meaningful self criticism. This is no different from a child who retorts "Well Johnny's parents let him hang out with the thugs down the street..." With all due respect, this has been my constant beef with contemporary Black political ideology, an extropolation of Civil Rights ideology - it fixates on "What White people are up to." At best, this is naught but a variation of the codependent activism that has made Civil Rights ideology a pathology. If, for a moment, we can focus on Black people and address only our issues, and not those of whites, we might take a necessary step towards empowerment.

Insofar as criticisms leveled by Black women against Black males, we need only to visit an establishment patronized by Black folks to see validity in their arguments. At my local Wal-Mart I am often blown away at the number of times I see disproportionate numbers of thirty and forty something Black men dressed as teenagers. In comparison, the number of Black women in that age category dressed similarly are profoundly lower. Additionally, I'll often see a Black woman dressed maturely coupled with a Black male clad in a baseball hat turned askew, baggy jeans immacuately pressed, multi-colored leather jackets, and a pair of "Tims" or the latest leather sneakers. In some cases, there may be a Black male child in tow dressed identically.

One of the reasons for which this happens is the absence of social pressure. In constantly invoking relativist rationales by comparing our dysfunctions with those of white folks we say that this behavior is acceptable. Demanding that that boy be a man is somehow wrong and, at least in the case of Michael Eric Dyson, criticising Black folks is tantamount to race treason. This is foolishness and its also destroying us.

The sisters are spot on. Something is dreadfully wrong and obsessing over the machinations of white folks as a form of comparison has done nothing but give acceptance to the destruction of the Black family and ultimately Black people. Even now you are beginning to hear subtle murmurings that "marriage is for white people". The sisters' criticisms are yet another canary dying the the mineshaft that is the Black community. Its time to stop the bleeding and end what may turn out to be the destruction of Black people. The first thing we need to do is have a revolution and overthrow the Civil Rights Industrial Complex - those who cleverly derail meaningful self criticism by pointing what white people do. After that, we can be free to discuss common sense solutions to the dysfunctions that plague our community without invoking a "blame whitey corrolary" or, in this case at least, the "white people do it too" counter argument.

The problems faced by Black women in seeking a partner are interconnected with Black on Black victimization, low academic achievement, and the destruction of infrastructure within our community, just to name a few issues.

Kat said...

First of all: Those women are HOT!
Secondly, in my humble opinion, it's kinda odd to say "Clock is ticking" if you're 30. That's just too early to feel left out, too young. Lastly, I was weirded out by the presentation of interracial marriages as "less", not first choice. That's offensive. And why does the video only imagine Black-White couplings? What about Asians e.g.?

Pandora Bunny said...

I agree with Kat, the black-white narrative is too exclusive (ironic).

As for the ticking clock, I would disagree. It may be too early to become neurotic about it, but after 38 the quality of eggs produced does start to decline. Depending on how long (if at all) a woman wants to be married/committed before having a child, then the earlier she has to start thinking about it.

RiPPa said...


You asked some very good questions. I just started doing blogtalk radio and this Sunday night we're tackling this issue. On the show we have a professed relationship expert who is male as our guest. He landed an interview with Helena Andrews author of the upcoming book "Bitch Is The New Black". If you could, I'd like you to check us out and weigh in on the convo if you can.

RiPPa said...

Oh, for the record: there's more than meets the eye with the women who were on the Nightline special. I saw their piece as just a teaser and nothing more. Steve Harvey? Really?

R-SON said...

"a Black male clad in a baseball hat turned askew, baggy jeans immacuately pressed, multi-colored leather jackets, and a pair of "Tims" or the latest leather sneakers. In some cases, there may be a Black male child in tow dressed identically"

What's that got to do with anything? Minus the baseball hat (my dreads are too big) that's me everyday. Yet I work 2 jobs, raise 2 wonderful kids and adore my wife. Why are we still harping on the issue of how cats look when they are out minding their own biz? Maybe I don't belong in this conversation (my wife is Puerto Rican), but that comment drove me nuts. What does a guy's baggy pants have to do with any of this?

gordon gartrelle said...

I actually agree with Al in spirit.

R-Son, you're right that the emphasis on clothing is a lazy shorthand, but I think what Al is trying to get at is the reality that a crapload of grown-ass men don't want to grow up. That they rock baggy jeans and tims is irrelevant; that they don't feel the need to be responsible adults, however, is a very big deal.

This problem obviously knows no color or class, but its effects are especially damaging on poorer people of color, whose communities are already the most vulnerable and dysfunctional.

As for the tired topic of professional black women lamenting the fact that there are no good black men, isn't it obvious what's happening here? Listen to these womens' criteria, and listen to how they talk about men (as accomplishments, as bragging rights, as prince charmings). Is it any wonder these women, while successful and relatively good looking, are still single? What man worth a damn would want to hitch his wagon to a woman with such skewed, shallow values?

chaunceydevega said...

@Pandora--At the same time, there are many eligible black men who are more interested in playing the field-it's all demand and supply-than trying to form committed relationships. It just seems worse (than players from other races) since there is a "man shortage" in the community----are the brothers any more or less inclined to play the field than any other group of men?

@Anon--sorry, can't please everyone. I do hope you return.

@Shae--like I always say, there are no "just" people have lots to offer this or any conversation. Do you and your white sisters sit around and bemoan the pool of eligible white men to marry?

@Al--good to see you back! we missed you. it is funny you said that about how the folk be dressing. i agree, we have a fashion aesthetic of "baby boys" and "little men." wear what you want, but there is something amiss when grown men dress like teenagers (my cousin is in his 50s and dresses like he is 15 for example) and to boot, their behavior parallels it. We also have many women enabling this behavior. As I always say, if women demanded accountability this nonsense would stop.

@Kat--you know, that would be an interesting piece that is often under discussed-does it not have the same voyeuristic appeal? where are the Asian men at complaining about their women being "stolen" by white dudes?

@Rippa. when is the show airing? and how would our readers, myself included, call in?

@R-Son, fair point. and you do belong in the conversation. The fashion point gets at appropriateness and social capital. Lots of our brothers who are baby boy, man children (and embrace it) don't know when to dress that way and when not to. Moreover, I wonder how many get the consequences for how their manner of dress influences how they are perceived by others?

RiPPa said...

@Chauncey: Here's a link to the site on blogtalk radio. The show is airing this Sunday night at 8PM EST. The call-in number will be posted on that page by Sunday morning. Right now I'm trying to get Jimi Izrael on the show as well to discuss his upcoming book "The Denzel Principle: Why Black Women Can't Find A Good Man". Spoke to him today and awaiting confirmation.

Bless said...

To emulate the imperfect is inherently flawed, and I agree with those who are like WTF at comparing Black rates of anything to other people. The goal is so not to be as screwed up as the next guy, but to be your best, regardless of the next guy.

As for fixing the damn thing, thinking forward, at the very least be conscious of the behavior and values I expose boys and girls to (mine or not), and even better be proactive and actively bring up and encourage the Black Family, and fifty years from now it will be like, why are so many African Americans happily married compared to other races. Just cuz our generation screwed up doesn't mean we can't fix the next one. All we have to do is try instead of just assuming the worse.

As for any lady who thinks she is doing somebody a favor relaxing her standard of a 6'5" tall brother to be shorter, she may want to reflect on why she thinks that's important and instead focus on aspects of a man that are actually important, such as character and values. That, and stop taking herself so serious - life's too short - stop comparing yourself to what the next girl got and feel free for once.

As for marriage market analysis - these ladies are in Atlanta right? Plenty of us there so, again, it just seems to me they are too distracted w/ what the next girl got. Reminds me of the Bob Marley joint about a fool surrounded by water but still thirsty.