much as I am proud and thankful to be married to a beautiful black
man, I cannot help but look at many of today’s headlines on the
state of black marriage and relationships with a bit of déjà vu.
In this recent Washington Post story, “Wedded to the Idea of Promoting Black
Marriages,” we learn that Eleanor Holmes Norton
recently held a symposium at the Congressional Black Caucus Conference
titled “Single Women, Unmarried Men: What Has Happened to Marriage
in the Black Community?” At the packed, standing room only event,
Norton recited some sobering, saddening and simply indefensible
statistics, among them, the one I reference frequently and find
Today, 70 percent of black children are born out of wedlock.
Norton goes on to state that “For the first time, young black women
cannot necessarily look forward to marriage as the next natural
state of life. . . They are finding themselves without comparable
Do I hear crickets chirping or an amen chorus?
As a solution, couples counselor Audrey Chapman posited that black
women need to deprogram themselves from an ideal and image that
many of us have downloaded and reinvented since we first became
interested in boys – that whatever preferred characteristics we
want him to possess (money, education, interests, etc.), he must
be black at all costs.
“We’re the only group of people who are devoted to a group of people
who aren't devoted to us,” Chapman said in the Washington Post story.
A look at leading players in Hollywood, on the courts and fields
of professional sports and even in our own communities supports
the truth that many black men, who are at least desirable on paper
and by appearances, are choosing to couple with non-black women.
Most sisters know that million-dollar actors and globe-trotting
athletes are out of our league and, whatever our idyllic fantasies
may be, accept that they will be unrequited. But it’s different
when a good number of black men who are educated, gainfully employed,
financially stable, Baby Momma-less, reasonably attractive and presumably
healthy want nothing – or little, outside a late-night romp – to
do with a woman who looks like them.
A woman who resembles the daughter he is apt to have, no matter
the race of the mother. A woman who looks like his sisters, cousins
A woman who reminds him of the one who birthed him into this world.
To be rendered invisible and unworthy of consideration by men who
look like our fathers, brothers, cousins, uncles and the best of
who we are – heroes like El Hajj Malik El Shabazz, Marcus Garvey
and Martin Luther King, Jr. – is beyond offensive. It is deadening
to the spirit and esteem of many sisters, though most might be too
proud or too hardened to put it that way.
As a result, more sisters seem to be following Chapman’s advice.
They are going on blind dates with white men; they are joining dating
services exclusively for the interracial-minded; there are even
some who refuse to date black men at all now (Check out Black Girls Rock It for more on that!).
White men are now putting out books, like The White Man’s Guide to Dating Black Women.
White men can be seen at social events embracing or walking hand-in-hand
with sisters who were the rejects of black men. Talk about chickens
coming home to roost.
if sisters are overcoming many of the issues that prevent them from
dating white men – such as a sense of racial loyalty and pride,
feeling that they are not attracted to European features, and the
seldom discussed history of sexual assault by white men against
black women – some of this openness or openness to become more open
rubs me the wrong way. Why? Because it’s reactionary, circumstantial
and, as a result, insincere in many cases.
What white man wants to be a black woman’s sloppy seconds that she
settled for because she couldn’t find her own Morris Chestnut or
Tariq-from-down-the-street-with-a-J.O.B.? What do sisters think
they sound like when they say, “I couldn’t find X and Y left me
high and dry, so I chose Z?” That’s essentially what they’re doing
when they preface their choice to date “out” with statements such
as these. And it gives sadistically inclined black men who date
and marry interracially for all the wrong reasons even more of a
sense of sick satisfaction.
I say this as a black woman who, for years, really felt like I would
end up marrying a white man. The first male who told me I was beautiful
was white. He had waist-long hair, lips that belied his Irish ancestry,
an ear for the jazz stylings of John Patitucci, and a knack for
saying the right things at the right times with just enough edge
to get me interested.
This occurrence is etched in my memory like reliefs on ancient stone
walls because it was a huge happening. It was a polar shift of personal
proportions. Before then, all I had heard was how strange I looked,
how ugly I was, how nappy and unwielding my hair was, how fine I
would be if I got a perm, how white I acted and how white I thought
I really was – my dreadlocks, caramel-colored skin, full lips, narrow
eyes, and shapely black physique notwithstanding.
Who populated my mind with such caustic comments? Who perpetuated
this pain? Black men and boys who knew not what to make of my then-counter
cultural self between the ages of 15-21. (I say “then-counter cultural”
because the look I had then is now cool and, for the most part,
This experience was followed with a succession of approaches and
exposures that collectively made me feel as if any suitor I made
it solid with would be white. As attractive as I once found certain
white men of the “dark,” swarthy variety, I still felt deeply, palpably,
that I would feel most comfortable, at peace among and at home with
a black man who would understand why I sometimes wrap my hair in
a silk scarf at night, what shea butter is and why I use it, and
why I occasionally drop my “-ings” when I’m yapping at home and
off the clock. This man would need no context or back story about
why certain occurrences made me mad, why a particular look was held
a little too long or too suspiciously, or even why a discussion
of the “what ifs” just isn’t worth entertaining some time.
This man, too, would be able to break out into a Kid-N-Play kick
step with me, on beat, without provocation in a totally impromptu
My black husband came to me sooner and in a different way than I
ever expected. As much as he was just what I wanted, I was what
he had in mind, too: a sister who works out, doesn’t eat pork, wears
her hair natural, shares like philosophies and more.
Just like me, black girls weren’t giving him the time of day in
high school or college. He was seen as too nerdy, unthuggish, uber-skinny
and just not cool, you know, in the way that those brothers who
ended up dead or in prison were.
He easily could have decided to leave black women alone and date
white exclusively, just like I could have. Instead, we waited, knowing
we couldn’t force what wasn’t organically there.
Now, this is not to say that black women shouldn’t date white men.
Many people deserve to find happiness, love and reciprocity. People
want to feel appreciated and feel needed. Our biological clocks
only tick for so long. Statistics prove that some American sisters
will be left out to dry if they await their own vision of their
However, sisters need not explore white men only as a “because,”
“since” and “as a result of.” It does no one any favors.
MARRIED MOMMA are musings fromBlackCommentator.com
Columnist K. Danielle Edwards - a Black full-time
working mother and wife, with a penchant for prose, a heart for
poetry, a love of books and culture, a liking of fashion and style,
a knack for news and an obsession with facts - beating the odds,
defying the statistics. Sister
Edwards is a Nashville-based writer, poet and communications professional,
seeking to make the world a better place, one decision and one action
at a time. To her, parenting is a protest against the odds, and
marriage is a living mantra for forward movement. Her work has appeared
in MotherVerse Literary Journal, ParentingExpress, Mamazine, The Black World Today, Africana.com, The Tennessean
and other publications.She is the author of Stacey Jones: Memoirs of Girl & Woman, Body & Spirit,
Life & Death(2005) and is the founder and creative director of
The Pen: An Exercise in
the Cathartic Potential of the Creative Act, a nonprofit creative
writing project designed for incarcerated and disadvantaged populations.Click
here to contact Ms. Edwards.
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Bill Fletcher, Jr.
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