Sunday, November 20, 2011

Where Da (Good) Black Men At? ....Then Where Are the (Good) White Men?

Perhaps they [black women] are punished for their success, reviled for their strength and independence, feared for their security, hated for their heart, loathed for their determination to survive, and yet still loyal to black men.
         –Michael Eric Dyson
When black women who want to be in relationships, who want to raise families, who want to share all the love inside them with a man reject possible partners who might be good for them and do so solely on the basis of race, they may be throwing away their best chances for happiness with both hands.
         –Karin Langhorne Folan

Can all of the good black men please stand up? Countless magazine articles, blogs entries (including this blog apparently), and news segments keep proclaiming that black women are facing the worst good black man shortage in history. This conversation has been going on for a couple of decades, so the drought should have declined by now, right? Am I doomed to be single for the rest of my life in a big house with my 12 Siamese cats (I like cats, so sue me) to keep me company and a well-stocked wine cellar to keep me warm at night? Or at the very least, end up as a lonely divorcee with three kids to care for? I cannot escape the bombardments of statistics of single black females since doing the research for this post. It is definitely a can of worms that I partially wish that I had never uncovered.

The Elusive Good Black Man
Is there honestly a shortage of good black men that are marriage potential for black women or is it merely a ploy by the media to further degrade the image of healthy relationships between the genders? Have black media outlets taken the bait of the mainstream media and are causing black women to sink to even lower levels of desperation?

Smith tells us that good black men cannot be found since they were never missing in the first place (2010). Kind of like when you lose your car keys and your searching everywhere for it and the moment you stop looking....BAM!! They keys were not missing, they were right in front of your face while you were busy searching in between sofa cushions, your pockets and everwhere else. The good black men black women are searching for may be right under their noses (Smith, 2010). May I suggest that these men write ‘good black man’ on their foreheads so that they can be easily identified? Black women keep missing them at every intersection for some reason.


The media, on the other hand, seems to think that good black men are damn near an extinct species and that no matter how much black women try, most of them will never find one (that's so not fetch!). Magazines, such as Ebony and Jet, have been causing black women to become hysterical since the 1980s with article titles like "Shortage of Black Men May Force Alternatives to Traditional Family" (from Jet in 1986); "How Black Women Can Deal With the Black Male Shortage" (from Ebony in 1986); and "Where Are the Eligible Black Men?"(from Ebony in 1980). Solutions to the shortage ranged from polygamy (whoa!) to abstinence (I don't think so buddy).

Get Me a Dictionary—I Need to Look Up “Good Black Man”
What exactly do we mean when we refer to a good black man? If women are in search of this elusive man, then they have to be able to describe him explicitly. Does a good black man look different? Smell different? Is he like my ideal man-hybrid of Lupe Fiasco, Common, and Michael Eric Dyson (swagger, consciousness, intellectual)? Is he like a supersized order at McDonald’s and all the other men from the dollar menu? Folan (2010) provides an accurate list of demands:

Qualifications of a Good Black Man

- Is at least well educated as the black woman searching for love
- Makes at least the same income that she does or more
- Is as intelligent, well spoken, and informed as she is
- Is attractive and reasonably fit
- Is drug-free and physically and emotionally healthy
- Has a good personality (there goes that good word again)
- Has compatible interests and religious beliefs
- Is manly and firm (no thugs please, but no punks either)
- Holds similar views on sexual intimacy and children
- Is monogamous
- Is free of emotional baggage
- Is BLACK (duh!)

Is that some list or what? Most black women are unwilling to budge when it comes to these demands, which is understandable; they are not willing to settle for less (Dyson, 2004). Black men have their own set of criteria for women (and some of them are not even doing anything with their lives) so it is only fair that women are allowed to have their own. I have seen plenty of black men overlook beautiful, charismatic, successful black women because they had a fuller figure than most. I have witnessed plenty of black men overlook successful, chocolate Sisters because their skin was too dark or had natural (kinky) hair that they found unsuitable. I refuse to play the “black women are too difficult” game. Both genders are “difficult” when it comes to choosing a mate, but since there are more single black women than single black men, it is assumed that the women are at fault. Black women are expected to be gracious for scraps of affection from black men as well as dim their shine so as not to make black men uncomfortable and when they do not follow these rules, they get attacked.

A Few Depressing Stats
Some of you may have already endured the onslaught of similar statistics, but here goes nothing...

Black women are less likely than women of any other race to marry. According to Dyson (2004) and Folan (2010), only 50% of black women are expected to be married by the age of 28, unlike 80% of white women. Well, this is not too bad since one can conclude that these women may marry at a later age than 28...until you consider the number of incarcerated black men. Black men make up 50% of the prison population even though they constitute for a mere 6% of the general population (Folan, 2010). Seriously? What the hell are these men doing? What does Smith have to say about this? No wonder so many black women are single. All these niggas behind bars!

If these black men are in and out of the prison system, then most likely not many of them are attaining an education. A half million more black women than men are college graduates (Folan, 2010, p. 43). Remembering my college graduating class, I would have to agree with that particular statistic. Black men who fall victim to the prison system are not only less likely to graduate college, or even attend one in the first place, but they are also less likely to receive their high school diplomas. Here comes Campbell with depressing stats of her own: “1/3 of all Black men in America are already in—and will also continue to go—to prison” (2008, p. 108). Correct me if I am wrong, but was she making a reference to Clifford “Tip” Harris otherwise known as T.I.? Black men with a criminal are not exactly the best prospects for hire at most companies so they will either be unemployed or be underemployed at menial jobs.

I regret to inform all of the black career women out there that they better find a dog to keep them company because it seems that the older they become, the less likely their chances for marriage. Over two decades ago, Ebony magazine said that career women who reach the age of 30 and are still single have an 8% chance of finding a husband; if they reach 35 and they are still single then those chances drop to 2.4%; and by age 40 the chance of marriage is a pathetic 0.7% (1986). This will not bode well for the thirty-something year-old black woman on the fast rise at a law firm. How many of you know a powerful woman in her 40s who is still single...and still looking for a husband? You will eventually have to hit her with a dose of reality, but please be gentle.

I do not even want to talk about the rising prevalence of black men who marry outside their race because I know it is a sore spot for my Sisters...but I will do it anyway. “Black men enter interracial marriages at a higher rate—9.7%—than any other racial or gender group except Asian women” (Folan, 2010, p. 50). So it looks like any black woman who has shared the sentiment that white women (and others) are taking all the good black men may actually have had valid point.

She’s Got Jungle Fever, Too
With the dismal prospect for a suitable mate, more black women are turning to white men for relationships (take that black men!). It is rather a bit difficult because black women tend to look for approval from black men and the black community. They may worry about becoming ostracized or displeasing their parents (Folan, 2010). A young, black woman admitted, “I’m not one hundred percent comfortable being seen as a couple[with a white guy] in public...I’m actually more fearful of how brothers will react” (Folan, 2010, p. 55).

This just proves that black women are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to please others, especially black men, including sacrificing their happiness if need be. They may be made to feel that they hate their own race by both black men and other black women. But to fall in love with someone of a different race does not mean you hate your own race (Nicholas-Nash, 2002). So all of the black women in interracial relationships need not take heed to people who make this comment. And do not pay any mind to those who say that interracial marriages (in other words black women who marry white men, but not black men who marry white women) are ruining the black community...the black community has been ruining the black community for years.

If black women are searching for partners who are on the same level as they are, then they have to broaden their horizons. More and more black women are starting to realize this and are allowing love into their lives regardless of color (Nichols-Nash, 2002). Despite the fact that black men have been dating outside of their race for years without consequence, black women have felt the need to remain loyal to them. Even when many black men have proved that they cannot handle a powerful black woman they choose to remain loyal. Even after black men have continually called them difficult, gold diggers, and too independent (and yet praise white women for the same behaviors and reward them with marriages/partnerships) black women choose to remain loyal. Bitch, are you a woman or a dog?

The stats provided above show that loyalty to black men will result in years of loneliness. Either black women make compromisations with their list of qualifications for the ideal man (like marrying someone without a college education) or they date outside of their race for a suitable match. Nichols-Nash put it succinctly when she said, “When you expand your options, the pool gets bigger. Why limit your options by closing off a whole race, you might miss Mr. Right. Black women need love, too. If he’s White, he just happens to be White. Deal with that” (2002, p. 12). Not sure about you, but I have always loved a lot of milk in my coffee.

In closing, I want to share an interesting comment from an anonymous woman on the role of black men in the lives of black women which made me laugh out loud while still causing me a bit of pain in my gut: “Black men over the years have become less and less of value to black women both rich and poor. I predict in 10 years they will be obsolete. Now they serve little to no function and what little they can do, they don’t want to do” (Campbell, 2008, p. 114). *Hums the tune to “White Boys” from the musical Hair*




References

Campbell, M. D. B. (2008). Book III. In Food for the soul (pp. 51-168). Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.

Dyson, M. E. (2004). Another saturday night, or have all the brothers gone to white women. In The michael eric dyson reader (pp. 147-166). New York, NY: Basic Civitas Books.

Folan, K. L. (2010). Don’t bring home a white boy: and other notions that keep black women from dating out. New York, NY: Karen Hunter Publishing.

How women can deal with the black male shortage. (1986, May). Ebony, 41(7), 29-34.

Nichols-Nash, R. D. (2002, August). Why more black women are dating white men. Jet, 102(10), 12-16.

Smith, A. A. (2010). How to find and keep a good black man. In Is there really a shortage of good black men? (pp. 89-117). Durham, CT: Strategic Book Publishing.

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