Single, Black Female

from the Jackson Free Press

For much of 2010, it seemed everyone from ABC to CNN to RT (formerly Russia Today, a worldwide English-speaking channel) were concerned about my single dating status. Well, not me, specifically, but black women in general.

The last time I wrote about the single life was almost a year ago. A few things have changed for me since then, but not really.

One thing that kept the media’s interest through last year was why so many black women are single. Let’s revisit a couple of the most devastating—says the media—statistics before we get started:

Forty-two percent of African American women have yet to be married, compared to 23 percent of white women, according to a Yale study. The 2000 U.S. Census reported that there were 1.8 million more black women than men.

By spring, I began to feel a bit freakish about my black singleness. It seemed everyone who’d never paid attention to me otherwise (the Russians, for example) was concerned about who I was going to date. In their attempt to figure it all out, they sought out comedian-turned-radio-host and “Think Like a Man Act Like a Woman” author Steve Harvey who became the go-to guy about all things relationship. This is when I knew for sure America’s interest in my life was nothing short of people not having anything else to talk about at the time. You’re seeking answers to questions about black folks from a comedian—not a sociologist, marriage and family therapist or a psychologist, but a man who wrote a common-sense manual about dating?

Harvey admonishes women to not lower their standards for a man’s sake and warns that men are aware that women are desperate and nervous because they think there’s a man shortage. It all makes sense, but it’s not enough.

I don’t have an issue with Steve Harvey. Many people I’ve heard complain about him have said things like: “He’s been married three times. What can he tell me about having a healthy relationship?” A lot, I think. We learn as much from failures, if not more, than from our and others’ successes. That’s not the issue.

Without any academic or research background, Steve Harvey, just like actor-turned-“relationship expert” Hill Harper, or anyone else who offers common sense advice as relationship gospel, is ill-equipped to answer the “why” question. And if someone is looking to help, isn’t that one question, among others, we need to figure out the answer to?

One of the “whys” is because we’re emotionally unintelligent, relationally retarded and self ignorant. And that’s not just black women. That’s our society as a whole. Numbers say it’s those women who look like me who are having the most trouble, but I don’t know of too many people having an easy go of relationships. The problem seems universal: We want the other person to change, because taking personal responsibility isn’t fun.

Critics of “For Colored Girls,” Tyler Perry’s recent cinematic adaptation of Ntzoke Shange’s 1975 choreopoem “For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf,” screamed that the movie was a poor reflection on black men, not painting them in a positive light. “It’s man bashing,” they say. (There was similar bemoaning about Terry McMillan’s “Waiting to Exhale” and Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple.”)

Most of the men in the film were less than desirable characters. They lied, cheated, and abused their loved ones and substances, but the women chose to be with them. Their desire for companionship overrode their self-value. They chose partners out of their lack, and chose to stay with men who weren’t committed to them or a better life because they’d convinced themselves they weren’t strong enough to stand alone. While the men may be trifling, it’s a much sadder commentary on the women. Two unhealthy people will never a healthy relationship make; it’s impossible. No matter the sappy sentimental line in “Jerry Maguire,” it’s bull: No one can complete you. That’s lone work.

So 42 percent of black women are single and have never been married, that doesn’t have necessarily have to be a cause for alarm. Some of them may not want to be married. Maybe some of these women have chosen to remain single until they’re ready to be in a long-term committed relationship. Instead of searching for validation and affirmation strictly from outside sources, perhaps the women have decided to concentrate on filling themselves.

Even if all 42 percent of them desire marital relationships, though, maybe it’s just not time. They say God protects children and fools. Conceivably, the women are a bit more foolish than they’d ever care to admit, and someone, something is watching over them. There are certainly plenty examples of women—black, white and in between—who’ve married the wrong person, or the right person at the wrong time, and found themselves as part of another statistic: the divorced crowd.

Am I still a single, black female? Yep, I am. Do I regret majoring in political science and philosophy at Millsaps instead of working diligently toward acquiring an Mrs. degree? Nope. I am confident that by the time I get married, I will be a woman so full of herself (not in that cocky sense, mind you) my husband will be proud and honored to call me his partner. And should I never marry—I’m keenly aware this is a likelihood— what a wonderful gift to offer my family, friends and the people in the world around me: a woman who isn’t looking to others to satisfy her.

Advertisements

~ by MsInklination on January 20, 2011.

One Response to “Single, Black Female”

  1. […] Single, Black Female « MsInklination For much of 2010, it seemed everyone from ABC to CNN to RT (formerly Russia Today, a worldwide English-speaking channel) were concerned about my single dating status. Well, not me, specifically, but black women in general. No matter the sappy sentimental line in “Jerry Maguire ” it's bull: No one can complete you. That's lone work. So 42 percent of black women are single and have never been married, that doesn't have necessarily have to be a cause for alarm. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: