Cultural Critique / Pop Culture / Random Thoughts from an Uppity Negro / The Color Line

For Black Male Intellectuals Who Have Considered Suicide When Black Women Were Too Much

[Editor's note:  The gross generalizations when using the blanket terms of "black women" or "black men" are not to be understood as engaging the stereotype of "all" and lumping everyone into broad categories.  But for the sake of easy communication in an already lengthy blog post, please adjust your comprehension accordingly.  That is to say, if I'm not writing about you, then so be it; if the shoe fits, wear it, if not, then don't. JLL]

In the Age of Obama, the smoldering embers of black female and black male relationships roared to life most unexpectedly.  For many years prior, the black female agenda had been relegated to novelists such as Toni Morrison and Alice Walker for example and was housed largely in the work of authors such as bell hooks or Jacqueline Grant just to name a paltry few.  Black feminist and womanist thought had not yet received the shot in the arm that it desperately needed.  Black women were not just mounting a defense against predominant culture, but also battling black men who promoted and supported forms or patriarchy that kept them at the bottom.

Black women in this country have only recently received their suffrage moving from object to subject within the past generation or so.  Accounts of American history and specifically Black History have highlighted strong black women from Jarena Lee, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Diane Nash, Rosa Parks, Myrlie Evers, Hattie McDaniels, Fannie Lou Hamer, Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisolm, Michelle Obama not to mention the countless wives of modern civil rights leaders who stayed with their family and as their husbands sacrificed, they to sacrificed as well.  It has been of no question of the level of endurance black women in this country.

However, fictionalized accounts often tell of the glorious sacrifices that black women had to make.  We love to tell the story of Rosa Parks, or Myrlie Evers or even Coretta Scott King.  But even in the telling of the story of Coretta Scott King, we rarely talk about her husband’s proclivity for white women and stepping outside of the marriage; the type of pain that such a woman of prominence incurs that reduces her to an afterthought and ultimately back from subject to object.  We don’t talk about the male dominance du jour that black women felt the sting of a backhand from many a’ husband.  The level of physical and sexual abuse meted out from black man to black woman is certainly nothing to be scoffed at for the sake of sweeping it under the rug.

We have the fictionalized story of “The Color Purple” in more recent times that has stood as a benchmark for understanding the brutality that black women faced in the rural post-bellum South at the hands of black males and larger white society.  But, I remember being ten years old and my parents letting me watch the movie, the first of only two movies that I cried on (I can admit that), but I remember hearing my mother make the comment that “Alice Walker uplifted black women at the expense of black men” and that has stuck with me until this day.  So, four years later after reading Walker’s “The Flowers” short story essay about Myop, my 9th grade English teacher informed us that Walker was to be speaking at University of Chicago.  I went with a friend, and her mother to hear Walker speaking to a packed house, mostly of white college aged students and older white liberals no doubt, went on this tirade about black men.

We got up and walked out.

Back in this Age of Obama, intellectual discourse is no longer relegated to coffee houses in elite enclaves of academia, but has become part of pop culture.  While intellectuals have always made it their business to be cultural critics, meaning that there is a veritable and studied school of thought behind critical theory, means that pop culture has always been analyzed, certainly so in the years following World War I.  However, what was being said no longer requires a subscription to a boring scholarly journal, or purchasing Harper’s Weekly or the New Yorker or even just reading an editorial in the Sunday newspaper, but now we can merely turn on the television and hear and watch news stories on these issues.

As the United States culture of American has participated almost single-handedly in the dumbing down of our culture both here and abroad, we less and less qualified person with the ability to speak.  I refuse to lay the blame at the feet of one entity be it big business and corporations, mainstream media, politicians, conservatives, liberals or anything of the like, but the fact remains that in the Age of Obama we have produced a populace that doesn’t believe in reading, doing fact checks, thinking before they speak and actually promote mediocrity cloaked in a false sense of passion and intellect.  Seriously, the way people throw and use stereotypes nowadays is absolutely appalling.

As the Age of Obama dawned c. 2008, the dominant culture was more than intrigued with seeing a perceived black man and his equally black wife being so prominent in the face of the myriad of stereotypes about black men and black women.  As a result, CNN leading the charge with it’s abysmal Black In America series beginning in 2008 and has done equally wretched follow-ups since then.  However, Lady Michelle Obama thrust black female imagery back into the forefront of American iconography.  Not since John F. Kennedy had America had a young and photogenic couple, with kids in the White House.  The only problem was that they were black.

The Age of Obama wouldn’t be the Age of Obama if he and Michelle weren’t black.

Fox News and it’s minions ranging from Glenn Beck to Rush Limbaugh made so many underhanded, and mean comments about Michelle Obama making dirty comments about her height, her arms and her legs which of course do not stand to the white female image of beauty: Michelle Obama has curves and she’s not afraid to show them.  Naturally and rightly so, most black women were severely offended, and so was I.  That in 2008 and forward we were really listening to middle age white men say such things into microphones on syndicated radio shows–that had corporate sponsors.

Somehow, out in the ether, moderate mainstream outlets capitalized on this issue with black women and produced these news specials addressing black women in America and just how single they are and how depressing it is to be a successful black woman in America and then all hell broke loose.

We all remember the tragedy that was the Nightline special with Steve Harvey.

 

And we remember the further successive flunks that brought by ABC as well:

 

 

 

 

It’s like seven parts, so feel free to find the rest on YouTube if you want, but I realised we had entered silly season when Sherri Shepherd decided to say she wanted a black man who could take her braids out with her.

In my own opinion, when pop culture made this decision to place the battle of the sexes into the public sphere, it gave the power for women to objectify themselves.  I think what has happened is that pop culture, combined with some highly problematic philosophies of black feminism and womanism has allowed for black women to place themselves on an objectified pedestal that renders them untouchable.  That’s why Sherri Shepherd and the fineness that is Jacque Reid can sanctimoniously sit up on Nightline, get a check and essentially play the role of a pitiful, yet strong and independent black woman.  Just like most blacks are convinced that there’s a cure of HIV/AIDS out there, I’m convinced these black women can find a man.  But, just as there’s no money or profit in the cure, there’s no profit or money if black women start getting married.

If black women started getting married, then what would happen to black feminism and womanist thought that is so female-centered that there is no room for a black man?  Seriously, would “The Color Purple” be such a great movie if there was even ONE decent black male character that they had developed (since it was a fictional work)?

Black women are dominating the discussion.  Anytime a black woman in a room full of single black men says to the effect that “there are no good black men; the good ones are taken and the rest are gay” she has objectified herself into thinking that she’s an object of desire.  Aside from the personal objectification being problematic, anytime a decent brother tries to check her about it, he’s labeled a male chauvinist and complicit in the issues of male patriarchy–we become the enemy!  Basic common sense (although arrived at through a series erroneous and horrible jumps to conclusions) would tell anyone not to sleep with the enemy. So when black men become the enemy it’s easy to run around saying “there are no good black men” although, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: black women that choose to subscribe to this line of reasoning will never find a black man.

It also seems that black women are using the victim excuse of just how badly they are being portrayed in the media for the #NWNW (No Wedding, No Womb) internet campaigns, or just as a reasoning behind being an “independent black woman.”  Frankly when I hear a black woman use negative media images as a reason behind their thought processes, I feel insulted as a black man.  It seems as though you’re suggesting that black men aren’t negatively portrayed in the media either.  Fact of the matter is that blacks, as a whole which would include males and females don’t rank high in positive media imaging.

Understandably taking the victim role I think does aid in the healing process, but when we’re left battling each other for who’s story should be at the bottom, I think it defeats the purpose of actually healing the wounds.  Black women seemingly turn their attention to the easiest target of black men rather than deal with the hegemony of the dominant culture that brought us over here and turned us one against the other for the sake of American progress.

What pop culture has shown me through the wonders of the black blogging world and social networking is that often times these women who follow this line of thinking are often single well into their forties and give up or marriage, have married white men, or are actually lesbians.  I really couldn’t care less about one’s life choices, however, if that logic is followed, then no doubt I see why those black women end up making those life choices.

So where does this leave black men?

I know plenty of black men who are my age and have gotten engaged or who are indeed married.  However, there is this smaller cadre of black intellectual males that I encountered once I got to grad school that is left operating in this rarefied space of academia not quite knowing what to do with this new found intellect.  The constant struggle of the public intellect is to make their ivory tower musings applicable to everyday life; I personally believe one without the other is futile.  From this vantage point, I stand and make my claim:

Black men don’t want a black woman to be submissive to them, they just want a black woman to be supportive.  In turn, the black man doesn’t have a problem supporting them either.

I get the impression that the self-labeled “independent black woman” want her independence, but also wants to be dependent on her man (husband) as well.  Okay, as awkward as that sounds, I think a lot of black women are just saying that and don’t really know what that means.  But because they’ve been inculcated with this idea that “there are no good black men” out there, when on the first date, the guy makes the mistake of actually disagreeing with you on something, you label him as domineering and patriarchal — and you’re on to the next one.  What these black women fail to understand is that if you keep treating black men as though they are merely an option, we’ll do the same and you can’t get mad at it.

Another issue is that this is highly a class issue.  Black members of society who don’t make a certain amount of money and don’t reside in certain zip codes or who don’t have college degrees, certainly not those with advanced degrees, aren’t having this conversation.  The stereotypical Boom’quesha and Jowakatema can always find a man.  Similarly the Rae’Kwons and Jer’Marios of the world can always find a woman.

Black male intellectuals consider suicide when black women are too much.

Black male intellectuals have watched bastardized versions of black feminism and womanism pervade pop culture through the black blogosphere, social networking sites and mainstream media outlets.  We saw it in Deborrah Cooper’s article “How Black Churches keep African American Women Single and Lonely” from summer 2010, to the now famous YouTube clip entitled “Black Marriage Negotiations” and even to Jacque Reid’s response on The Root entitled “A Viral Video Attacks Single Black Women” blaming it “having standards.”  For the record, a list of non-negotiables isn’t having standards, but rather being an uncompromising individual who would be hell to live with in the first place.

I think black women need to be honest with themselves and stop hiding behind the mask of “independent black woman” or this warped idea of “what’s wrong with having standards.”  Be honest with yourselves that you are in search of perfection.  Black men know this and admit it often enough amongst ourselves, black women I’m sure in all female enclaves lust over the body of a Boris Kodjoe just like black men still daydream about Free from 106 & Park.  But, this type of black woman doesn’t want to admit to their male counterpart their secret — the funny thing is that we already know it.

Black men know when a black woman has lost interest.  If the man doesn’t know and still keeps on trying, well he’s a fool and isn’t really a part of this discussion anyway.  What this leaves is the black male intellectual, left alone in the halls of academia trying to make sense of it all.

What I’ve noticed, from this vantage point of gearing myself up for one day embarking on a terminal degree is that black women have a warped sense of what stands as black male sexuality and black male masculinity which of course all plays into black male identity.  Black women are defining the images of black maleness for us, and that was fine to a point.  But the enlightenment that we have experienced in the Age of Obama and even the anteObama era has given license for black males to push back.  Black men wear skinny jeans, and carry a murse (man purse), and go get facials and identify themselves as metrosexual, but still it doesn’t affect their personal identity of their manhood, their sexuality and their masculinity.

In fact, black women are just as vocal in using “gay” as a weapon to cut down a black man.  Black women will call a black man gay if he doesn’t show interest in her.  This not only continues her own self-objectification, but also cuts down black men in the process.  It’s one thing if another black man challenges the masculinity and manhood of another black man using whatever weapon he will, that has more to do with the male ego, but it’s another thing when black women are also complicit in that.

Black women know what it means to call a black man a bitch.  And they do it on purpose.

As the black male intellectuals stand operating in the rarefied air, many of them  can’t find support from black women for much of the same reasons that black women list under the reasons why “there are no good black men.”  Black men with a Ph.D. or even with a masters degree don’t want some waterhead female with a high school diploma no more than black women with advanced degrees want a working brother with a high school diploma.  Both want to have a mate who can at least hold a conversation with them about some of the work that they’re doing.  Just as I made the claim about black women marrying white women, black men also marry white women as well.  Black women make this an unfair double standard because they justify their marrying outside the race, but vilify a black man if he does it.

Also, there is a higher percentage of black males who are actually gay the higher up in academia you go.  Without stepping on toes, I really wonder if it’s for the same reasons some black women magically become lesbians the older they get: were these the black men that were unable to find woman for the same reasons that black women claim they can’t find a man?

I write this to wrest back my own black male masculinity and sexuality and identity from black women who have bastardized already problematic philosophies of black feminism and womanism.  This is me sending notice to black women that you will not define my maleness, my manhood, my masculinity, nor my sexuality just to support your warped understanding of what it means to be an “independent black woman” or to “have standards.”  I am here to declare and decree that you need to accept me for who I am with all of my faults and accomplishments and take me for who I am.  If you can’t accept this, then we wouldn’t work out in the first place.  If you view this is the epitome of patriarchal and chauvinistic, then so be it, but I am unapologetic for my masculinity and unashamed of being man.  Take it or leave it.

My mother told me “A Black man is good enough,”  and dammit, she’s right!

This is my Uppity Negro manifesto.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

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69 thoughts on “For Black Male Intellectuals Who Have Considered Suicide When Black Women Were Too Much

  1. My fav line. ” What these black women fail to understand is that if you keep treating black men as though they are merely an option, we’ll do the same and you can’t get mad at it.”

  2. Um. I must admit that when I looked at the title of this post I rolled my eyes. Hard. I thought this was going to be yet ANOTHER rant about the ills of black women and how we area ruining the world. There were points were you began to go there, but then you, being the intellect you are restrained yourself and put things back into perspective. Thank you for doing that.

    There were points that I wholly disagreed with, such as…” Black women are defining the images of black maleness for us, and that was fine to a point.” Black men will always and have always defined manhood. I believe that the significant absence of fathers in the Black home have forced Black Mothers/Women/Females into what she believes manhood should look like. I would compare it to a mother bear taking in baby wolf. The mother bear can love the wolf as best she can, teach it how to eat, how to survive, can even mimick a wolf’s hunting patterns, but she will NEVER be able to teach that wolf how to think like a wolf, act like a wolf, even how to act amongst older wolves.

    As a proud Black daughter of very independent,single Black women, I know that we can be over bearing and even judgmental, but as a woman, I guarantee that it comes from a place of desperation. The desperation of trying to find the perfect situation for her son/husband/boyfriend and ultimately for herself. However, from one Master’s Degree holding, Black Intellectual to another, we both understand that society, especially the American society is a male dominated one that still in many arenas objectifies and minimizes the role of the woman in society. Black women inherently want and desire Black Men, so much so that we still look to you all to set the tone, to determine how big our asses should be, how our hair should be coiffed, how our toes should be painted, etc. etc. etc. Black Men still have the upper hand. Still have us colored girls sitting on the sidelines wanting and waiting, pick ourselves to pieces, criticizing every aspect of other Black Women and would-be competition. Until Black Men take back their power (and there is a way to do that without talk down to a woman)and stop generalizing, then this struggle between you and I, our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers will continue to persist.

    I guarantee that “waterhead” females who ostracize your personal grooming habits and so forth are still looking to you. Still interested enough in you to spend time analyzing you. See, you still have the power. I believe the resentment that Black Women have for SOME Black Men is directly related to the fact that many Black Men do not live up to their potential, forcing women to become mother bear. Forcing us to go at it alone, when all we want is that Black Man to support and to stand for us, the way romantic heterosexual relationships were intended.

    As I digress, I am grateful for your last paragraph. There are not enough of you and unfortunately you and your Black Male counterparts will be scrutinized. And as an educated Black Man that is the burden you must bear, just as loneliness is the educated Black Woman’s burden.

    Thanks for the discourse.

    • “how our hair should be coiffed”

      . . . really? I really doubt black men set the tone and determine how your hair should be coiffed. Otherwise interesting comments.

    • @ ish

      As @VEe! said, I’m not sure if I see black men dictating all the time how hair should be worn or anything of the like, BUT, I do know some women who have changed their hair because of the attention or rather lack thereof that they received from men — but that’s another blog post.

      I can admit that black men have the upperhand just by the virtue of being men.

      That being said, I discovered in college what I thought was a novel idea, but clearly didn’t sit well with the women when I said it. I said that both black men and black women have been hurt by this country, why can’t we just begin the healing process together. Apparently for many that’s not the option.

  3. All right. I’m still processing what you’ve written & gathering my thoughts enough to make a substantial comment. Until that point, I do want to say that your post was well written. Kudos, sir. I’ll be back soon with a response to the actual post.

  4. Wow! What a read. I have a number of jumbled thoughts.

    -About 90% of the time Sherri Sheppard opens her mouth, I cringe. She seems like a fun woman, but she’s dumb.

    -I don’t think it’s fair for black women to go off about black men and how there “aren’t enough of the ‘good’ ones” available. What does ‘good’ even mean? Not thuggin’; not spreadin’ seeds every which way; not in jail? Yes, a disproportionate number of black men are incarcerated, but I *really* don’t buy into the oft-used statement about the free ones being hard to find.

    -About so-called “standards”: They’re dumb, too. I’m 24, and for the greater part of my dating life starting from the age of 16, I had this *thing* for dark-haired musicians. That was my “type;” I found myself always in relationships with those kind of men. That didn’t last forever, as I’m currently in an almost 2-year-long relationship with a non-musician, who pretty much defied every standard I would have had on my list, had I made one. And he’s the best for me.

    Standards can be illogical. Humans are complex, and no one is perfect. We often date people hoping to improve them, and while people should grow and get better as individuals, you can’t date an alcoholic and expect him to become sober just because he loves you. Similarly, I am pretty great, but I have my terrible qualities just like everyone else. I just want someone who loves me for ME.

    I think standards such as having a viable career and stable life are fine– but what happens when life happens? Do you leave your partner because of an unavoidable mass layoff at his company?

    I don’t think we should focus on things and attributes as much as we focus on character and heart.

    -I have plenty of single friends. A lot of the females (of all ethnicities) complain about not being able to find any decent guys to date. Maybe I’m some sort of exception, but I’ve NEVER wanted for a relationship (as in, never felt lonely or unable to find a date if that was what I wanted at the time)

    In fact, after being in five semi-serious to long-term relationships, when one ended it was never far after that another guy started pursuing me. I don’t think I’m God’s gift to man, but I do think when you carry yourself a certain way and are comfortable with and love yourself, that will send out a certain vibe and attract the right people to you.

    So instead of complaining about how “all men suck,” why don’t women look at themselves and think about why THEY might suck? Do they have anything to bring to the table? Are they happy with themselves and even emotionally able to love someone else? My girlfriends are beautiful, so it’s not about looks– maybe THEY need to look deeper.

    -When I call myself independent, I literally mean that I can take care of myself financially and in other ways. I’d never be comfortable with being a gold-digging, non-working woman, but that does not negate my love for having a life partner because he brings balance to the table.

    It is nice to rely on someone else (without taking it to dangerous codependency levels). I know for sure that my boyfriend, while he’s crazy, makes me better. Our lives are better together rather than separately. We’re learning and growing as a couple. We duke out our issues and fight like hell. But life is about relationships, and we should all try to work to help them thrive.

    • @ mizchartreuse

      I really can’t see what’s wrong with that image you’ve painted of black women. But, time and time again I’ve engaged in FB convos with single black women my age, similar backgrounds and what not and they’ve joined this chorus of “black men aint ish” and I’m just left wondering — I think it’s more you sweetheart than black men as a whole. And the fact that Jacque Reid is pushing this “have standards” thing is absolutely shocking and appalling to me. As I said on Twitter, if Jacque Reid can’t get a man, the rest of black women need to just stop trying as well.

      • “I think it’s more you sweetheart than black men as a whole.” I think that was well said.

        I can’t stand generalizations! People need to take responsibility for their own lives and not buy into media circus rings about what’s “going on with black female Americans.”

        If you want something, you can have it. People need to stop with the woe-is-me sob stories and go out and DO something.

    • how our hair should be coiffed

      Do you really think men determine and and set the tone for the way you wear your hair? Now I’m saying that you’re wrong, but from my personal experience and what I’ve read on a number of blogs . . . I just do not see it.

  5. Well written however you just did what “single blk women” with this idea of a good blk man is. U put them in the same glass box that’s they have by default put themselves in and now blamming society for be ring less & childless. Its wonderful to have standards but look at yourself women & men and ask yoself “what u I have to offer” “will I be willing to alter one or two things for mr right.” At the end of the day I was told as a young child be my parents “we all live the romantic lives we choose to” and person I have been interested in or have fit my standards I have went after a succeed. I always ask my girlfriends who find themselves at a crossroad “would u marry yourself?”

  6. To the author,

    would you say the Black American family is essentially matriarchal or patriarchal? if you should answer this question that it should tell you something of the women you refer to in the article.

    I hope your answer is as considered as it is honest.

    Thanks

    Menelik Charles
    London UK

    • @ Menelik

      I’m not a sociologist and I think any answer I’d give would be severely shortsighted and worthy of a closer look. But in my armchair analysis, the black American family has high strains of both. Matriarchal in the sense that many families are single parents and the “mother” figure is highly venerated in black American culture. Patriarchal in the sense that the presence of a man often supersedes that of a woman. However, I think history has shown that in the family structure it’s been a give and take over the years adjusting with the current times as necessary.

      The Black American community at large, however, I must say is decidedly patriarchal.

      A) What prompted that question? B) Since you’re across the pond, what’s your take on black American family life? c) How id the black English family? matriarchal or patriarchal?

      • Bro,

        answer your question I will. BUT first do please explain how – with single rates at rampant levels, and Black women collectively asserting that Black men “aint shit”,
        you arrive at the opinion that the wider Black community is “patriarchal”? In short: what area of Black relationships, outside of the home, does patriarchy exist?

        To help you along, might I also ask whether or not you personally consider African-American women to be as feminine as women of other races/ethnicities in the US?

        Just asking.

        Menelik Charles
        London UK

      • @ Menelik

        With all due respect, I obliged you and answered your initial questions, how about you return the favor first before more questions ensue.

  7. Uppity, man this could have been a shorter post. All I can say is that most of this discussion is from your personal experience and some of it reads anecdotal. Trust, in a couple of days, months or years some one will write the same thing.

    You got it, this is mainly a class issue. Birds of a feather would love to flock together. I usually try to ignore these discussion because it sounds whiney. Overall good read. Ok, I’m off to read the Dominant Subordinate Culture piece.

    ———
    1. Hey, you’re independent and strong? Ok, cool.

    2. It’s hard to find a good black man? Maybe it is just difficult for you.

    3. Your girlfriends are gorgeous? Ok, trust me on this one, men and women see beauty differently.

    4. You have standards? What men don’t?

    Note, Charles S. Dutton is an ex-convict with a Masters Degree in acting from Yale. Is he a good black man or not so much?

    • @ VEe!

      Well a lot of my posts are anecdotal and personal in nature. I think we speak best from those experiences. I wouldn’t have been able to write this if it wasn’t a personal issue for me. I put that heavy intro about black women’s struggle simply to avoid any issues a black woman reading this could try and have concerning me not understanding a black woman’s struggle.

      • Bro,

        what prompted my question was the fact that those Black women who play the “I’m victim of the Black man” card throughout the US media, are actually victims of a phenomenon much closer to home; and one they (unwittingly) perpetuate at every turn.

        Consider: Black females have sex earlier than other races of females in the US; they also have higher rates of teen pregnancies; children from multiple baby daddies etc. The result is that its virtually impossible for a well-meaning Black man to enter such a hot mess and play the good patriarch.

        It makes no sense!

        The result is that you have an effective matriarchy running the show in Black America (and running the Black family further into the ground). The mythical strong, independent, Black woman has emerged from this mess via mommy as a practical role model, and a feminised education system which is hostile to male children of every race.

        Black boys have little or nothing to gain from the matriarchal set-up since since his role model is likely to be absent (not always wilfully so), and even less to gain from an education in which to participate is to be labelled gay, white etc by the very females in your community.

        The model of manhood is at this point (“know what I’m saying?”) as emerge from both the matriarchal system which marginalises and disparages manhood, and an education system which they are groomed to oppose as though an extension of plantation slavery!

        By contrast, quietly, and consistently, Black females enter higher education at the same time their brothers, cousins etc are becoming ever familiar with the criminal justice system.

        The result? Black women “succeed” while Black men “fail”. However (and here’s the twist) college educated Black women shun their Black male college-educated peers (just as they shunned Black boys with their heads in their school books back in the day) for the ‘romantic alpha appeal’ of the thugs, playas, and baby daddies, they were both directly and indirectly responsible for grooming in the first place.

        The fallout from such unions are apparent from coast-to-coast throughout Black America. Now the women complain they can’t find ‘good Black men’. What they don’t tell you, of course (because they are unaware of its presence) is that the matriarchal mantle they were groomed to inherit from their mothers will bring about the same problems, predicaments and pain they complain about today.

        Only they will be the ones inflicting it upon themselves…and their communities.

        Thank you.

        Menelik Charles
        London UK

      • @ Menelik

        I’ma have to respectfully disagree with you my brother. From my point of view it seems that you’re operating from some slightly misinformed stereotypes about black women historically here in the United States. I think the fact that you’re saying black females have sex earlier than their other counterparts is just outright erroneous information (I’d need a source to verify such a claim) and seems to be the basis for your hypothesis. Respectfully, I think you’re seriously misinformed about that.

        I know far too many females and black males who do NOT fall into the categories that you have just created. By the same token I know of many that do. For me, that means that I can’t make a blanket statement about all black females as such.

        Now for the record you never said what this phenomenon was exactly that prompted you to ask such a question.

    • I personally prefer anecdotal writing than straight facts. It gives context as to from where the writer is coming.

      VEe!: Is your 1-4 list above meant in response to me? Or just in general?

      • Just in general. At this point many people know the script, read the book or saw the film Waiting To Exhale.

        I’m cool with anecdotal writing myself but I think people used their personal experience and draw crazy conclusions like “Black men ain’t shhh” or “college educated Black women shun their Black male college-educated peers.” Once you hear often people take this gospel as truth.

        Don’t mind me.

  8. This was a good and interesting read that gives me some food for thought. I don’t have much else to say except that I’m glad that this isn’t a major issue in my current location. The conversation has gotten repetitive and nothing has changed. (no offense to you though)

    • @ wizardofoz321

      Well, perhaps you can give me some context for Brother Menelik asking me questions, that I answer and then not answering my questions.

      • My fault; I thought I opted in for comment notifications, otherwise I would’ve answered this ages ago. :-|

        I don’t know who dude is, but in MY experience thus far, all this Black men/Black women s— hasn’t come up at all – for me or anyone else that I know from here or home.

        I’ll read over all these comments and see what you’re talking about, then come back.

  9. Great Post sir! I think that this whole “shortage of decent black men” thing is a load of crap and I have been saying it for years. I am 40+ and married to a beautiful and loving black man. He wasnt hard to find, but then again i wasnt searching. Lucky for me he was willing to wait for me while i got over myself…lol We need to let go of the fairytale fantasy of the prince on the white horse and then we can get to the business of loving our strong black man effectively. I could go on, but i wont…

    Peace :-)

  10. Bro,

    you’ve had my take on the state-of-play among African-Americans as re family relationships etc. I can claim to understand it because a similar situation exists over here among African-Caribbean people (it’s a post-slavery thing which we must really try to come to grips with).

    So anyway, my additional question to you was as follows: with single rates at rampant levels, and Black women collectively asserting that Black men “aint shit”,
    how did you arrive at the opinion that the wider Black community is “patriarchal”?

    In short: what area of Black relationships, outside of the matriarchal home, does patriarchy exist?

    Just asking.

    Menelik Charles
    London UK

    • @ Menelik

      Primarily, the African American Church is still heavily male dominated from deacon boards, to trustee boards and other governing bodies and certainly black male ordained clergy outnumber black women.

      Additionally, if you look at businesses through the black community, black men are often the heads. Same goes for HBCU’s, the majority of college presidents are still men. It’s highly patriarchal.

  11. @ chauncey devega,

    interesting that you should refer to this confronting of a segment of the Black female society as “speaking truth to power” for this is precisely what we’re dealing with as the article (perhaps unwittingly) makes clear.

    Seriously, it’s akin to taking on the Israeli Lobby when challenging any aspect of the utterances, sentiments etc of these dames. Push too hard and they’ll be saying you hate Black women, and questing your sexuality… guaranteed!

    Menelik Charles
    London UK

  12. The time it would take to unpack all the problems affecting your claim would fill a dissertation which would be awesome! This is my response. I read Hill Harper’s book “The Conversation” and I thought it was excellent because it didn’t really tell black woman ‘how to get a man’ but it was just a conversation that black women and black men need to have. A married man in the book told the difference between black women and white women (really cultural differences that affect our relationships). Your husband comes home 2am drunk which in any relationship is going to be an argument. White woman asks husband “where the hell have you been!?” and he mumbles a terrible response. Then he gets the riot act about responsibilities and blah blah blah. The argument starts the same for black couples, but then it gets specific to his race…”you’re just another trifling black man! you ain’t no different! blah blah blah”. He said a black man is still just a man regardless of race/culture, but black women are good at turning that incident into a race issue further reducing the black man’s value in the relationship and the world. Sooo, your post made me think of that. That’s all. Like he said, if this doesn’t apply to you don’t worry about it, if it does then it does.

    • Correct, we need to stop injecting race into every argument we have. The same problems we face are faced by most Americans regardless of race. Black women aren’t the only ones who complain about not being able to find a “good man”. I blame the line of thinking that says we can have our cake and eat it too. There are good men out there, but they are usually overlooked because they do not fit a certain standard of female desires. When women say “there are no good (black) men”, what they really mean is “there are no good (black) men who deserve me and fit my definition of male perfection” It’s the American woman princess sentiment that reigns supreme across all ethnic groups. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a foreign woman say anything close to that (of course I could be wrong…)

  13. Well written article. The objectification exist in many aspects in the “Black-American community.” The conversation, like most “solution-based” attempts, is in dire need of different insights and more debate. How do we sum up the experiences of Caribbean-blacks and African-Blacks that settle in the states?

    The US is facing a very interesting time period—one that needs intellectuals to push logical conversations into the streets(Barbar shops, salons, coffee shops etc). Myths, media-driven assumptions, and downright lies will further perpetuate the victimization of black women.

    Why do I feel like we need an engaging power point slide, with bullet points…an atmosphere like TED Talks, and bowls, large bowls, of Cinnamon Toast Crunch?

    • @ Wilkine

      I think first and foremost both Caribbean blacks and African Blacks need to abolish the stereotypes that they have of American Blacks. And in turn us American Blacks who can trace our ancestry to no farther than Mississippi need to abolish the stereotypes of the “other” black as well. We need to understand that we both share a history that is VERY closely intertwined with one another. I will admit, however, it is very hard. My first encounters with Caribbeans was from a sister from Trinidad from 8 years ago has left a very, VERY, bitter taste in my mouth throughout the years. I end up teasing my Trini friends, playfully of course, based on that first encounter.

      But this is coming from a person, myself, who actually requested an application for the University of the Virgin Islands (it was the farthest place from home I could think of without having to apply as an international student.)

  14. The Uppity Negro said:

    I’ma have to respectfully disagree with you my brother. From my point of view it seems that you’re operating from some slightly misinformed stereotypes about black women historically here in the United States. I think the fact that you’re saying black females have sex earlier than their other counterparts is just outright erroneous information (I’d need a source to verify such a claim) and seems to be the basis for your hypothesis. Respectfully, I think you’re seriously misinformed about that.

    Menelik replies:

    hi Bro. The notion that Black females engage in sex earlier than other races of females has been around for years. But since you asked for a reliable source, here’s one below:

    http://www.newstrategist.com/productdetails/Sex.SamplePgs.pdf

    See table 1.1 Average Age at First Sexual Intercourse among Women, 2002.

    Menelik Charles
    London UK

  15. Menelik asked:

    what area of Black relationships, outside of the matriarchal home, does patriarchy exist?

    The Uppity Negro replied:

    @ Menelik

    Primarily, the African-American Church is still heavily male dominated from deacon boards, to trustee boards and other governing bodies and certainly black male ordained clergy outnumber black women.

    Additionally, if you look at businesses through the black community, black men are often the heads. Same goes for HBCU’s, the majority of college presidents are still men. It’s highly patriarchal.

    Menelik replies:

    with respect Bro these patriarchal positions are largely ceremonial in character. They do not, for example, have any influence on whether or not Black women have oow births; children from multiple partners; run matriarchal homes or on whether men choose to stay in their children’s lives.

    In short: these men are wholly powerless as regards the condition of the African-American family and community. This is not the case among say Pakistani Moslem Imams whose patriarchal status compliments that which exists in both Pakistani homes and it wider community.

    Just saying, Bro.

    Menelik Charles
    London UK

    • @ Menelik

      Per the African American church, brother, I don’t know where you’re getting your information from over the pond, but I think as someone in my field I think you’re dead wrong if you believe that black males in the Black church are ceremonial in their positions. You need to seriously check yourself on that one bro.

      • Brother,

        the only point I’m making in general is that the patriarchal structure of institutions like the church have no influence on the direction of the Black family i.e. it does not reflect the structure within which most African-American children reside.

        This being the case and the face, I would absolutely insist that the role of the Black male preacher is largely a ceremonial one when viewed from outside of the church.

        And is this not more so the case given how so very few Black men actually flock to churches? Black men looking for patriarchal guidance, I would guess, would tend toward the Islamic faith.

        No?

      • @ Menelik Charles

        Your sources seem thoroughly misinformed. When well upwards of 50% of blacks in this country identify as Christian and as a part of an historically black denomination, everything you say falls apart. Based on what you’re saying black men in this country would be busting down the seams of the local mosque, and that’s certainly not the case. I’m letting you have a pass on this one because you’re speaking as a complete outsider, presumably, but you’re completely wrong in the assumptions and connections you’re making with patriarchy and the African American church setting.

  16. One of the most intelligent blogs I’ve read about BM/BW relationships. I agree with 99% of it. Clearly, your truth is also the truth of others.

  17. Bro,

    this is not about sources (I have not cited a single, by the way!) but about the simple, observable, fact that the patriarchal structure of institutions such as the Black church in no way reflect the wider matriarchal structure of the family and the community.

    This is no theory, Bro!

    the uppity negro said:

    based on what you’re saying black men in this country would be busting down the seams of the local mosque, and that’s certainly not the case.

    Menelik replies:

    Bro I referred to neither a minority or majority of Black men but ONLY those seeking patriarchal guidance of a religious nature e.g. like those men from Christian-backgrounds and mother-headed families, and who reside in U.S. jails.

    • @ Menelik

      Sir, you’re wrong. You’re conjecture based on your observations is plain wrong. But, I’m done with this back and forth, neither of us are profiting from it.

  18. This is an interesting post.

    Uppity you seem to object to women having “standards.” Would you want your sister or mother hooking up with a violent man straight outta jail? How about a registered sex offender? HIV+? Or just a plain old dumb ass? My standards rule out these types and narrow my focus to guys that I actually have something in common with. My idea of a date involves a museum/playhouse/film festival not playing dominos and drinking 40s with his boys (no I’m not making that example up).

    Even with my standards I still got 6 marriage proposals (all from black men) and married twice, first time to an Egyptian and second try to a brother from Cali, and I’d like to share something I learned. I briefly considered suicide and murder when my ex-husbands were too much. I don’t understand all the whining on both sides about finding a mate. That’s the easy part! I’m a black woman with a master’s degree and I did not have trouble finding a man. The real work of making a relationship work starts after the wedding. There is nothing worse than sitting across the room from your spouse and still feeling alone.

    • I fully object to what pop-culture is telling black women are “standards” that they should be having. As I said in the blog post, having “standards” is not a list of non-negotiables that make you an uncompromising individual. Who wants to live with someone like that? Moreover, you making that short list in your comment about “violent man straight outta jail? How about a registered sex offender? HIV+? Or just a plain old dumb ass?” makes you sound trite and petty that in such a serious discussion you’d make such hyperbolic accusations.

      Standards are wanting a mate knows how to compromise; knows how to have open lines of communication; has a deep care for self and others around him. Standards are NOT having a list of things that are really about status and class issues that have more to do with outward appearances than really about taking a look at yourself.

      I had a friend after reading this post say he asks all of his females friends when they start going on the “black men aint shit” tirade point blank: “do you see yourself marrying yourself?”

      Based on this small snapshot that you give of yourself in two paragraphs, I can only assume that you personally have your own issues to work out when it comes to “standards” and having been through two failed marriages. Some black women would automatically blame the men in those cases when obviously, the only constant was the woman.

      • Uppity I’m not sure why you are so defensive. I wasn’t going on a tirade, but if you want to have a frank discussion about this issue please don’t insult my intelligence. We have both been to the ivory tower brother, but this sister has also seen her share of the raw reality of life. Sadly my “plain old dumb ass” and your “water head females” do indeed exist.

        You don’t know anything about my ex-husbands or me for that matter. I left both marriages because I had to make a choice when my mates would not compromise. Do you think I should have given up my religion and education to please my 1st husband? Should I have stayed in my second marriage with an alcoholic who refused to stop drinking? No amount of AA meetings or marriage counseling could make him stay sober. You might disagree, but I didn’t want to raise my son in that environment. I had two options in both my marriages, stay and put up with everything my hubby dished out or pack. Since you think I’m such a man-hater it might surprise you to know I still talk to both of my ex-husband’s occasionally and we are on good terms now. They both understand why I left them.

        I was making the point that people who have never been married often think of the alter as the finish line. The serious work of making love last begins with the commitment. My grandparents were married for 62 years. They built a life together through the great depression, Jim Crow, civil rights movement and the Reagan years. I believe in black love and marriage, but stories like my grandparents’ are rare nowadays.

        Black men should have standards too. One of my close male friends married a lady-of-the-night he picked up in a bar in Ghana. He made the mistake of thinking an african woman would be traditional and less domi than a African-American woman. Poor guy. He’s a college professor, but he’s having a very hard time trying to figure out how to get himself and the children they now share out of that terrible union.

        Now to answer your question “Do you see yourself marrying yourself?” I assume you are asking if I am worthy of walking down the aisle again. Do I have myself together enough to make a good wife? Hell yes! If you don’t believe me ask the two brothers who proposed to me this year. Both of them have known me for over 20 years and were happy to hear about my divorce, but getting remarried is not a priority for me right now. My 1st grader needs my full attention and again I’m choosing what I think is right for both of us

      • @ jazzcat

        I was responding to your defensiveness concerning “standards.”

        And as I said, having never met you, knowing nothing about you, I HAD to make leaps and assumptions true or not about you based on only two paragraphs you wrote. I’m not defensive, but just responding to what I got.

  19. Just read those comments. Menelik Charles might need to move to the States, as he seems to agree with a sizable amount of Black men there. :-|

  20. Hello. I’ve been a long time lurker on your blog and I was bit surprised to the this incarnation of black gender wars come about. I’ve sat ‘by the door’ and watched this unfold. Some black woman bashers from other blogs have made it here and I expected this. This whole thing about having ‘standards’ should be just that :something that is standard. I do not think that it’s exceptional to expect that your potential mate not to have a drug or law-enforcement problem. I do not think it’s uncompromising to ask your potential life partner to be similarly educated or worldly as you. The same goes for manners and traits. I think people should have standards but herein lies the problem: what’s the difference between having standards and having a laundry check list? Using myself as an example, I abhor violence. Display so much as a hint of it, especially towards me and I’m gone. I consider that my standard. I tell men I date this: if you can’t articulate your frustrations and engage in an appropriate coping mechanism without laying your hands on me, then I’m not for you. That’s a non-negotiable. It’s a trait I seek that speaks to the complete morality and value of the man in question. Being able to stop, breath and think so you can see the forest rather than isolating a flawed tree is important to me. And I ask nothing that I cannot give. Reciprocity seems to be a very taboo or one-up-man-ness issues. I’m still confused about why this is. I think alot of black men and women have very poor self-realization and inter-personal skills. I think changing gender roles have caused much of this and it’s going to be a slow, painful process for many of us to adapt.

    • @ MzVic

      Perhaps that’s what it is, we as humans just like inter-personal skills. Because, certainly, I’m in favor of reciprocity and I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

  21. Great article, though you know that a ton of those that don’t want to agree with the truth will say every excuse in the book, and then some. I might have to send you copies of three books that I wrote, starting with “When a Black Man Loves” which led to “When a Black Man Still Loves… even though (Sisters, there are still some good ones left).” Hell, maybe I will make that one digitally downloadable for free.

    It’s funny that I know one sister that made the claim that almost half of the black men out there are gay. She used to be someone that I respected. At that point, I even stopped talking to her as a friend.

    I even had one [white] woman tell another woman [whom I had been sleeping with, but she didn't know it] that I was gay. This was of course because she slept with most of the other patrons of a bar and I would never give her the time of day.

    And there, there was your point about class, and the fact that those on the lower rungs can always find someone.

    Lastly, I replied to one sister’s op-ed piece regarding all of the “why black women are single” media drama. In the end, she showed that she was just an educated chicken-head which probably in turn ran off most men who would have even been interested in the first place.

  22. Just because you are articulate doesn’t mean you are intelligent. What you wrote was extremely bias. You completely ignored the negative media that black males put out there as if it is non existent while putting the entire blame on black women. You fuel ignorance by not addressing both sides of the issue and so further harm black unity and poison everyone who reads your words. You have helped nothing and done further damage. It is black people like you who hurt your own people and fuel the divide. We don’t need you. If you do not seek to unify then keep your ignorance to yourself instead of trying to gain attention by betraying your people.

  23. This is what white people want. Their racist programming dehumanizing black men & women so powerfully even we believe it.

  24. There is an overwhelmingly sexist undertone to the following statement from the article, “Black men with a Ph.D. or even with a masters degree don’t want some waterhead female with a high school diploma no more than black women with advanced degrees want a working brother with a high school diploma.” You use the term “waterhead female” to describe a woman without advanced education, but then use the term “brother” to describe a man of the same station. This statement alone negates the validity of this post.

    While you admit that the post is primarily anecdotal, you stumble across and through attempts to support your perspective. Additionally, you imply that you are educated and knowledgeable (see “uppity”), yet struggle to write a concise and coherent statement throughout your ramblings.
    As I find with many so-called intellectuals, sprinkling a few 10 dollar words into an otherwise poorly written piece does not a well-articulated idea make.

    I read your post anticipating a value statement, supported by more than your personal perspective, but finished disappointed and deflated. Please know that our community needs this kind of discourse, but there is a need for more informed writers, sociologists, psychologists and behaviorists to provide proper insight on such topics.

    You have opened the door to further discussion, but please be mindful of the subjectivity of your writing when you commence to impose your position on your readership.

  25. That is very attention-grabbing, You are an overly skilled blogger.

    I have joined your feed and look ahead to in the hunt for more of your great post.

    Additionally, I have shared your website in my social networks

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