Friday, April 23, 2010

Black Women Are the New Black and That's Not Particularly Good

Sisters, let me take a just a minute of your time to just talk to you.  It seems that you’ve come under some intense scrutiny but not in a good way.  And I ain’t trying to join in, but I was just on the sidelines looking on, and I thought I should say something.

All of a sudden, all the various media seem more than a bit overly concerned with the marital status of successful Black women.  According to the media, available, suitable African American men are in short supply, and successful black women are out there languishing, hoping against hope for a man, a good man or, perhaps, just any man to make their lives complete.

Admittedly, I have this loony, quirky, out of control imagination, so when I hear the media continue to beat this dead horse with a stick, a get this image in my mind of a amorphous, glassy eyed, zombie-like mob of successful Black women roaming the streets of any major metropolitan area, arms out-stretched in front of them, moaning “MEN!  MEN!” ala Dawn of the Dead.

But this narrative is nothing new;  some version of it has been around for as long as I have had consciousness.  In fact, this deficit narrative of “successful Black women can’t find no man” goes hand-in-hand with its brother deficit narrative of “the black man in crisis.”

And I am not saying real issues do not exist within the two groups;  however, in studying and reporting on these issues affecting these two groups, broad generalization takes the place of any real explication.  The situation and circumstance for a few individuals or subgroups became a synecdoche taken as the situation and circumstance for the whole.

Regardless, the level of scrutiny seems wholly unprecedented.  From time to time, Black males have come under a microscope but never like this.  The difference in this instance, however, seems to be the amount of money to be made and notoriety to be gained explaining and providing commentary on just how unhappy successful Black women are and how they might be cured.

Wednesday night’s Nightline program was but the latest in a seemingly ad nauseum cavalcade of similar articles, blog posts, and television programs.  I may be mistaken, but the publicity surrounding the publication of Helena Andrews book, Bitch Is the New Black, just happened to open this powder keg.  However, according to Andrews, the book was intended entirely as satire with her and her group of friends and their efforts to find love in the DC metropolitan area at the center.  Think an ebony version of Sex in the City.

However, through a masterful marketing campaign, Andrews garnered quite a lot of attention.  From what I understand, she had a movie deal for the book even before it went to press.  With the potential for that much money and attention just waiting to be had, naturally folk began to jump aboard this gravy train.

Suddenly, people and entities concerned with the plight of successful Black women seemed to emerge from the woodwork.  Articles began to pop up almost everywhgere in the print media.  Recently, even Economist magazine published an article on the issueEconomist magazine?  When did Economist became so concerned with what seems to be a social issue?

In addition, I believe that at this point, every major network has done some kind of special report.  In fact, I read somewhere that Chris Hansen is doing a television series entitled To Catch an Available, Suitable, and Single Black Man.  Well, I’m lying about that just trying to get attention again, but you get the gist.

And a few brothers have even gotten in on the act.  Comedian Steve Harvey suddenly emerged as some kind of relationship counselor, though I’m unclear as to his exact qualifications.  He even has authored a best-selling book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, and get this;  he just launched a dating site for African Americans.

Actor and author Hill Harper has appeared more thoughtful and introspective in both his book, The Conversation, and personal appearances discussing the issue.  He seems really dedicated to affecting change.

However, that’s in stark contrast to Jimi Izrael of tight t-shirt fame whose bombastic, self-serving text seems to depend on purely base and sensationalized conjecture in an attempt to merely sell books and does not contribute anything worthwhile to the conversation. 

And just as an aside, is it just me or does Jimi Izrael seem to be always wearing the tightest t-shirts known to mankind?  It always looks as if he is walking around in a big, tight onesie.  I’m beginning to think that smedium is really a size.  Maybe I’ll choose a store in the mall and ask where the size smedium t-shirts are kept.  But I digress.

So to continue, we’ve discussed this issue in minute detail on our blogs and BlogTalkRadio programs.  I’ve even participated in such a program on a BlogTalkRadio show I co-host, Freedom thru Speech Radio, and it has proven to be our most successful program to date.  So we are, in fact, fueling that interest even as we decry it.

And let me say this now.  I don’t claim any special expertise in this matter;  I’m just a brother who through a series of fortunate events, a bit of favor, and a whole lot of tenacity, made it good.  But I’ll just tell you what I tell my two daughters, and that’s what I learned through living and personal observation.

The statistics are real.  The numbers are real.  Black successful women and Black women in general are at a statistical dis-advantage.  But this goes for both men and women—if you base your happiness on a source external to you, if you base your happiness on being able to find a woman or a man, if you are waiting on someone else “to complete” you, you will be forever losing.

You are essentially born with everything you need to be happy.  And if you cannot look inward for happiness, if you are not happy with yourself, you cannot make anyone else happy.  If you do not love yourself, you cannot really love and be loved truly and fully by anyone else.

The whole upshot of this narrative is that we are being told what we need to be happy.  Even though we may be happy with ourselves, even though we may be alone but not lonely, we are told that this is not acceptable.  But I really and truly believe, do you, continue to work on you, and everything else will work itself out.  
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