Friday, April 23, 2010

My answer to Nightline: “They Don’t Know… Who We Be.”

I'm not going to critique or rant (any more) about the shibacle that was the Nightline FaceOff: Why Can't a Successful Black Woman Find a Man? For a great overview and breakdown, check out Melissa Harris-Lacewell's post at The Nation. Here's a sneak preview of the brilliant insights she shared:

The serious, interesting and sensitive social and personal issues embedded in these statistics were hijacked by superficial, cartoonish dialogue that relied heavily on personal anecdotes and baseless personal impressions while perpetuating damaging sexism. Wednesday night's program was co-hosted by comedian Steve Harvey and ABC News Nightline Correspondent Vicki Mabrey and welcomed guests Sherri Shepherd ("The View"), Jacqui Reid (journalist), Jimi Izrael (blogger) and Hill Harper (actor/author). Like other discussions in the genre, the Nightline special began with the Disney-inspired assumption that marriage is an appropriate and universal goal for women. Any failure to achieve marriage must therefore be pathological. With this starting assumption panelists were encouraged to offer solutions without needing to fully articulate why low marriage rates are troubling.

Clearly, I've gone in on this topic over and over again. I'm all talked out. Apologies to those who suffered my rant on Twitter last night, I'd had it up to here. There was nothing fresh, nothing new. Ladies raise your standards but not too high. Date outside the race. Have you thought about dating your plumber or an ex-con? Oh and if you meet a man at Taco Bell who pulls up on the bus, snap him up - he may be the next Hill Harper. One ninja said his woman should make him feel like Super-freakin'-man. Really, sir? Are you gonna make me feel like Wonder Woman?

Woo-sah... Instead of re-hashing all of my grievances, I'll just call on DMX, yes dammit – DMX the growling troubled rapper. Here's the cut…

Okay then, here's the deal. It's hard to say why this person or that person isn't married without peeling back individual and societal layers. There's no "one size fits all" cure to answer the question. AND I honestly believe that talking about it this much just makes it worse. I'll tell you what helps… blogs like this (said modestly) – a place were grown folks can talk openly and honestly (both the men and the women) and see that there are good, attractive, viable folks out there. And that happy successful relationships and marriages exist.

Another issue with the show: I guarantee that if we took an informal vote right here and right now NONE of the women would have elected Sherri Shepherd or Jacqui Reid as our spokespersons NOR would the fellas have picked Steve, Hill or Jimi of the tragic clothing choice. As a matter of fact, find the poll at the bottom of the post. Hill Harper made the most sense though he came up side-eye worthy a time or two. But all his bougenificence was drowned out by the flat-out no-buenoness of the entire event.

How about a show about getting out and meeting real people, staying optimistic, getting yourself together while you search? (Not a reality show, please. We need no more flava/rock/ray j of love) Some might find that marriage isn't your ultimate goal and it's enough to find someone to chill with. But I guess that wouldn't make sexy TV?

Where's my show about the long-time happily married couples and HOW THEY DID IT? (I would TOTALLY watch that) What about the ladies and gents who opted never to marry and are GOOD with that? Where's that show?

So my problem with the continuing dialogue about the SBF as downtrodden victim is that it simply doesn't encompass who we be. The dialogue about the cheating-ass black man who can't commit obviously doesn't reflect who we be. Women who date gangsters and men without ambition is not the end-all-be-all of who we be. I resent a panel of comedians, reporters, actors/authors and I don't know WHAT to call Jimi "I still wear Garanimals" Izrael spouting the same old yada-yada without representing WHO WE BE. We be (artistic license, folks) smart and dumb, greedy and selfless, needy and independent, desperate and satisfied, weak and strong. Above all else, we be survivors. We be human. Start with the flaws in the human condition, then make us black, then make us single, then make us female or male and let US decide how we feel about that.

I blame us for this to a point. Those of us that still watch this stuff, support those books, call into those shows and go to those seminars. We are feeding the monster. Believe me they would shut all this shiggity down tomorrow if it wasn't making money. So I'm asking each of you to think before you buy, watch, join things. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? I'm officially done. Not one more post, rant, tweet about the overexposed plight of the single black woman and the men they can't find. Officially over it.

ABC, step your game up. And any other media outlet determined to beat the poor dead horse – if you're going to cover it, please come with something new that is solution based and positive. Come at me with degreed experts, not entertainers. Bring me stats, stories, witnesses and a good news story. Show me that you know who we be. Or just say nothing at all.

The floor is yours. Comment as you will.

40 comments:

Kneebiez said...

Hello to BougieLand! I've been lurking for about a month now, and finally decided to comment on behalf of a close friend, who has a conspiracy theory about this one: "in the wake of President Obama's election, one of the most consistent phrases leaving his mouth has been "my lovely wife Michelle" (or variations on the theme). Faced with the reality of the "mythical" black love in the White House, on T.V, and on the cover of many a magazine, the backlash is to remind every single black woman that there is no hope for her to find her equal, let alone marry, raise two beautiful girls, and celebrate your 16th (going on 17th) wedding anniversary with. To further throw salt on the nation's First Family, the most uninformed representatives must be called on to mis-represent and mis-lead the SBF into all sorts of tomfoolery."

Sweet N Tart said...

This reminds me of Chele's conspriacy theory: http://www.blacknbougie.com/2010/03/barack-obama-sarah-connor-and-de.html
I tried to watch the show, I could not.

diamond life said...

Why you got me all militant at work muttering DMX under my breath. And it's Friday too?! You are SO right on about this one. By minimizing the story of us, they minimize us. They need to put YOU on a panel... now that's something I would love to see. At least I know it will be more the same warmed over chatter.

Inkognegro said...

Yall trying way too hard.

ABC Hired Steve Harvey because he sold damn near 2 Million Books and got a Built in AM Drive time National Radio Audience base.

He is viewed as a Negro Magnet.
ABC doesn't care what we watch. they care THAT we watch.

They aren't interested in fixing anything. They didn't hire Steve Harvey to fix anything. They hired Steve to attract Negroes. The ones who love him, and the rest of yall who don't but can't seem to get enough of hating him.

Andrea M said...

Enough is enough is enough. I actually don't spend EVERY freaking day worrying about finding a man. I only stress about when I see stuff like Nightline etc telling me I have a better shot of hitting the lottery. Thanks a different perspective.

OneChele said...

Tomfoolery, shenanigans, and nonsense.

derek love said...

Well thanks for look at both sides of those because by saying Black Women Can't Find A Man, they are saying You Black Man Ain't Shiggity. As your post suggests some of us are out here doing what we do looking for ya'll just like some of you ladies are out there doing your thing checking for us.
Great perspective, Chele!

Just Passing By said...

Where's my show about the long-time happily married couples and HOW THEY DID IT? Someone call CNN and tell them we want to do Black and Happily Married in America! YES!

Ms_Smart said...

I didn't bother watching but I did post this brief note on my blog today:

I didn't see the latest and greatest in: The Unmarriable Black Woman series. But I do wanna say that this notion that Black women won't give men with potential the time of day is BS. Why? Cus a lot of dudes in college, recent college grads, low-level trash collectors, and drug dealers claiming to be about to be legal, keep having babies by women in higher stations than them. So please miss me with that mess about all Black women thinking we are too good for Cleophus the cable guy!

OneChele said...

Do not get fired over BnB! I'll let you know when Nightline calls - LOL!

U Don't Know Me said...

Did you see the part where Hill called Sherri out for not wanting to date him back in the day - classic. She coulda had Hill Harper and missed her shot.

SingLikeSassy said...

I didn't watch and here's why:
One, I'm married. So I don't fit the statistic or target audience.
Two, the title was dead azz wrong.
Three, Jimi Izrael has two ex-wives, bad taste in clothes and a stank azz attitude.
Four, Steve Harvey has two ex-wives, Jacque was on that Pepa show pushing a stroller with a dog in it and begging men for sperm.
Finally, Hill Harper is 40-some and can't find ONE woman that tickles his fancy enough to marry?

No mas.

JaymeC said...

Love how you brought it out of a she vs. he to a we.

Liselle said...

Three problems. The topic is dead, the panel was trifling and they had no "what next"

Foxy Brown said...

so, i read this post in my office this morning and was literally talking to the computer. yea, i've been getting the side eye but whatever. i am quite hesitant to say anything. i have a few factors working against me (or for me) on this one. 1.) i'm young, but i feel the pressure of marriage just like the 40 and 50-somethings. probably more so because there is the pressure of not becoming that 40 or 50-something single lady. do you know how hard it is to be a single, educated, black woman with no kids? 2.) i am of the belief that my womanhood is not defined by my ability to get married and/or procreate. 3.) i don't understand why these women (whomever they are) can't find a "good, black man" because i'm gay and i find them all the time.

LikeLena said...

The thing that ticked me off about the show more than anything is that they called out the ladies for not dating down but is Hill going to hook up with a chick at the Taco Bell NOW? No, he is not. I realize odds and stats are more in his favor but the double standard is off the chains.

Sarah said...

Good post today. I didn't watch and don't plan to. I spend a huge amount of time everyday creating a peaceful place in my mind to stay focused and calm so I can do what needs to be done. I visit here because I like reading your stories and 99% of your reader's comments. I don't like the whole us vs. them which is seems like the basis of much of this. I may be single with no plans to be in a relationship, but I like men. I think they can be funny, kind, generous, and interesting human beings just like women can be. And I think this show is an example of a situation that drags everybody down. I hope you and your readers have a happy Friday and a good weekend :-)

Urban Sista said...

Amen, amen, and let the church say amen again.

Reads4Pleasure said...

I didn't watch because #1 when I saw the list of panelists, I knew there would be no resolution, just finger pointing and #2 because someone told me Force MDs were going to be on Monique and I wanted to see if the dude that had no teeth when they first came out, but bought some by their second video, still had his "new" teeth. Unfortunately 3 of the 4 original members have passed so I didn't get to check his teeth, but the new group sounded pretty good and from what I've read, they were much more entertaining than Steve & crew.

GrownAzzMan said...

Ding! Inkognegro FTW! I have been saying the same thing to anyone who asks/listens.

mizjj said...

I agree that we should stop purchasing and consumming this crap. To steal something I read on twitter, I am not trying to listen to a bunch of never marrieds, divorc├ęs, ambiguously gay (you know who you are), misogynist tell me about my standards or dating. No ma'am.

careycarey2 said...

Chele, I refuse to watch any shows of that nature. I'd rather watch a full week of BET than watch those negros get pimped by ABC.

However, I will answer your question... would I have chosen that panel for a discussion on relationships? With the passion of a person running from a hurricane, I say, absolutely not! Listen, Steve Harvey has his own agenda, okay. And, I don't think I need to qualify that statement. More importantly, as with ABC, all of the panel had their own personal reasons for being on the show.


Having said that, you said it best.... " It's hard to say why this person or that person isn't married without peeling back individual and societal layers. There's no "one size fits all" cure to answer the question"... BAM! There it is.

To expound on that thought, when I think about relationships, it's my opinion that it's never a "we" decision. I have likes and dislikes that "I" bring to the table. I have baggage and fears that are unlike anyone in the world. It's safe to say that my blues may not be like anyones blues, and therefore, no one knows the real person, better than the individual. So, I agree, there will never be a one size fits all.

However, the the beat (programs like these) will go on. Hot button topic like relationships are rich and fertile ground for porous opinions and attention whores. To be fair and honest, we, as bloggers pimp the hot button topics. Sure we do. Although many bloggers proclaim they are not seeking attention, and/or are quick to point fingers at others that do not stay within the minset of host blogger... I say every closed eye is not sleep. Well, I share that opinion with other bloggers. Check it out. The title, PAY ATTENTION... ATTENTION WHORES http://careycarey-carrymehome.blogspot.com/2009/11/pay-attention-attention-whres.html

AND

http://careycarey-carrymehome.blogspot.com/2010/04/bottoms-up.html

Guest said...

First - you just made up shibacle, right? LOL
2nd, the who concept saddens me. Ain't gonna study war no mo.

Mr.TramueL said...

I e-Love you & the women here on Black 'n Bougie! ... so I'm on Tweetdeck with Twitter & Facebook exposed the morning after the show (Didn't watch. I was in the field.) The questions, comments and the like were all killing me NOT softly. I never comment 'cause I'm not a "single black woman" and could never truly understand what it is to be one, however I like to date them, play with them, spank them & one day put a ring on it. So I'm kinda irritated by the incessant chatter about the "single black woman" as some endangered species. Mr.TramueL's Theory of Adaptation: The next Dateline special will feature the single black female's induction onto the endangered species list.

Shut out to you & your REAL(istic) readers. "They don't knooow, who we beee" Word.

Page Bartlett said...

Thanks for trying to turn a super negative experience into a teachable moment. They did the most with this special and the very least at the same time.

Carlton said...

The whole thing irritated me because it was designed, from the start, to be a finger pointing match and not something that would generate anything substantive.

Winter137 said...

Wow- nough said

J B said...

I can avoid watching car wrecks on the freeway, but this one sucked me in like a bad reality show.

Hill, Hill...when men of all colors, not just black, call a woman "intimidating", that isn't a myth. It's reality. You either accept your "labels", or you ignore them. It's hard to ignore something you hear weekly.

I'll stop.

tiffanyinhouston said...

SLS said what I was gonna say Chele, except for the I'm married part.

Well that's that.

OneChele said...

We love you back. Um, in today's sue-happy climate, you may want to get written consent prior to some of your afore-mentioned acts... LOL!

nadetteeatreadrant said...

I'm with you Inkognegro and GrownAzzMan! and btw, i DIDN'T watch the panel, and i'm currently trying to explain to one of girl friends why i WON'T be watching it online. Steve Harvey pisses me off, and you're right he is a negro magnet. I'm not going to give this topic anymore energy. this blog post, the comments, belle's blog post, says it all--we've had enough of this message, next please!

Yvonne said...

I loved you post but there's a reality we're overlooking. There indeed is a sector of successful, well-educated Black women who see marriage as an option. There are also millions of Black women for whom marriage is the holy grail. These are the women buying Steve Harvey's book and who'll likely buy Mr. Bitter Black Dude's book as well. I didn't bother to watch the train wreck--once I saw Sherri Shepard and Steve Harvey I was done. Could they have not found one psychologist, sociologist or a bona fide relationship expert? At the risk of sounding bougie LOL....some women, given their financial and personal development may need to lower their standards. Others...women who's games are tight...or at least they are working in their shiggity shouldn't apologize for not wanting to date the McDonald's employee with three kids from three different women or the lawyer who wants a harem.

Leon X said...

I'm going to tell you what's wrong with single black women. You're not slapping enough of these idiots who say there's something wrong you.

Shix said...

OK, so we didn't like the Nightline snippets, cool. The entire version of the show was much better, but we all have better things to do with our time than to watch it. We need to point out the fact that this, that and the other person has never been married or divorced or has an outfit that we would not select, ok. But, at the end of the day, do we not see what is going on with OUR people if we all choose not to create a legal union with our families? Where is a lifetime of 'doing us' and 'hooking up' and 'just chilling' going to lead us when it is all said and done? Look at the history of when we've been exemplified on TV. When there was a show dedicated to the African American life, we rejected it. We're not that poor... Good Times, What's Happenin', etc. Then, they give us a few come ups on the screen. But, why do we have to have an old rich white savior to 'save us', so we shot down Diff'rent Strokes and Webster. My parents aren't lawyer's and doctor's, so The Cosby Show is no good now. Now, what do we have? Other than Tyler Perry trying to do it all on his own, the Negro experience is completely void from our eyes on television because all we do is moan and complain about every chance someone has an idea to exhibit us. So, now the same is going to be such with Black in America AND CNN. In the responses to this post for a show that was done by ABC, we then put it on the back of CNN and how unpleased we were with their representation of 'us'. And, the people made sure to exhibit the entire spectrum of as many negroes as they possibly can. Maybe we just deserve what it looks like we are pointing ourselves in the direction of doing, just getting wiped the heck out because nothing that anyone ever does is ever right enough, good enough, taking the time to show all of the different angles that we feel are most appropriate, or anything else. I really don't feel that way, but it gets tiresome that all we can do is complain about what someone is doing.

Did you do any research on that show to determine what the point of it is? It is to create dialogue. Lets talk about it. Hold a townhall meeting in your local area so that we can get some of the psychologists, statiticians, politicians, educators, and the like to show us what the long term effects of our refusal to get on one page relationally will be. If I told you that Dr. So-and-So that you don't know is going to be on, how many folks are talking about it?

Why do we have to examine the motives of all of these folks and take their point of view to be anything than what they exhibited? I think that Hill Harper exemplified a great point and took it all the way home in his story of potential. First, he talked about the First Family in taking a chance on potential. Great. So, quickly it is pointed out that the potential that she took was on a Harvard Law Degree. But, when Sherri passed up Hill in the Taco Bell, that was also a Harvard Law Degree that she passed up on, but she never took the time to find it out!

I'm sure that most will not agree with my points, I welcome your thoughts, but lets stop criticizing everyone else. Lets start pointing a finger at one another, speaking for what someone else should do with their time, talent, and abilities. Lets start giving ourselves timelines and assignments to turn this whole thing into the direction in which we want to go.

OneChele said...

Well, I actually spend quite a bit of time on this blog point the finger at us and me as far as what can be done next. I think everyone has to own their own relationship status and the reasons behind it. I did watch the entire show and I did not feel the spirit of open constructive dialogue but that could be because I'm way over the topic at this point. I appreciate your thoughts on the matter.

OneChele said...

Agreed and agreed.

BB Waite said...

I'm just exhausted of this topic, I know you must be too. I like your perspective and yet there's so much more we could point out. I ask that God bless each and every one of us and steer us towards the live we were meant to have and the people we were meant to be with. And that we may find satisfaction in those things and people outside of our own human expectations.

maureen palmer said...

I understand the frustration folks have with the coverage on this issue lately. However, for me, I thought the backdrop of the show is the broken family unit esp in the black community. Granted, some of the panelist have checkerd background, but that should not disqualify them from having an informed dialogue about this issue. Should they have heard experts on the show, yes, but the truth of the matter, most folks respond to entertainers more than they do other folks. Case in point , American Idol. So maybe nightline folks figured, the best way to initate dialogue is to use most recognized faces.
I have heard, as matter of fact Ms Harris-Lacewell, mentioned in her article that the issue of education disparity and black men in jail was not addressed as a corelation to the issue at hand, they did but not extensively. It's worth noting that lack of strong family unity has created a lot of the social ills in the urban community, hence the viscious circle. I think dialogue should be there, maybe not on nightline or cnn, but in a setting that will produce great results.

SingLikeSassy said...

"most folks respond to entertainers more than they do other folks" <--OK, well, how about bringing on some that have long, strong marriages to discuss this issue, rather than that cast of twice, thrice and never married but damn near fitty folks that they used?

For example, Ruby Dee might have taught us something. Angela Bassett and Courtney Vance might have taught us something. Denzel and Pauletta? She definitely married "potential" and they have struggled in their marriage, but, they stay together. Bill and Camille Cosby have also struggled, but they stay together. These people didn't bail on their husband or wives and find another just to bail on those, too. I would have great interest in hearing their views on relationships and marriage in the black community. Shoot, Bernie Mac is gone, but he and his wife were married for YEARS and she married "potential" too -- we couldn't hear from her and their married daughter about what she learned about relationships and choosing a mate from her parents/father?

See there is a right way to do something and there is the way CNN/Nightline went about doing it. I have yet to read anything anywhere that indicates this was anything more than fingerpointing. Where are the solutions? The action points?

Alanna said...

Amen.

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