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.