Saturday, January 14, 2012

Black singles: Make love, not war

So it has come around again.
The recycled story about professional black women being disproportionately unmarried and terminally single.

During the holidays Nightline aired a story about successful black women who seemed to be perfect in every way, except for not having a man.
I missed the story during my holiday travels but heard a lot about it.
I got a few text messages about it and received several emails about the story.
There was a lot of buzz about it on theNational Association of Black Journalists list serve.
I finally caught the segment on YouTube.

Sigh...Deep breath.Exhale slowly. Very, long, sigh...
The story is another one that framed professional black women as the loneliest women on earth who cannot find anyone to love them.
I hate to criticize another reporter's work. I know the hard work that goes into producing these pieces. And I know how hard it is to get stories about people of color some ink and air time in mainstream media.
It isn't that I don't think this is a worthy story.
As an unmarried black woman who is friends with scores of other single black women, I know this is a newsworthy story.
I live it.
But this story seemed to be incomplete.
The voice of single black men was absent.
Brothers were reduced to a collection of somber statistics and each one was like a punch to my gut.
Black men are undereducated, unemployed and disproportionately imprisoned, the reporter said.
Those statistics are true. But lining them up against successful black women with no black man to speak on the issue painted all black men as shiftless and unworthy of professional black women's attention.
The good brothers who are single and available were invisible.
There were no examples of professional black women who eventually got married, no input on how they achieved healthy relationships. And single black women framed as the modern-day poster girls for today's spinsters didn't sit well with me either.
However, there was input from instant relationships expert Steve Harvey, author of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.
He suggested that professional black women should consider dating older men. That's not a bad idea.

What I don't like about this recurring story most is the analysis and blame that comes afterward.
In neighborhoods, kitchens, barber shops and beauty salons the attacks on professional black women soon come.
There are claims that educated black women are single because we are siditty, picky and even too uppity for black men.
And accomplished sisters need to get off their high horse, lower their standards and be submissive.
Then women talk about their individual negative relationships with black men and assign all of those bad characteristics to all black men.
Each side hurls generalizations and stereotypes at one another like live grenades.
Then the war of words begins.
But the conversation about single professional black women seems to always blame the ladies and cast black women as undesirable and unlovable.
That hurts.
Because black women are holding families and communities close to their hearts and showering them with the same love black women wish they had when they are alone at night.

Having real and honest conversations about values, partnerships and compromising is what black singles need.
The blame game is a distraction and only deepens the disconnection between black women and men.
We need to be making memories, making love, making babies and making families.
We don't need to make enemies of one another.
If we continue to do so black women and men will continue to be unhappy and alone.

Originally published 1/15/10

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