Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why Hot Single Black Women Think We're Single

A dear friend of mine recently wrote a blog about why he thinks his single, educated, hot, Black female friends are single.  I told him that if we'd been in the same room when I read that blog, I would have smacked him. When I spoke with a coworker about it, she said she wanted to read something that broached that subject without telling Black women that they are doing something wrong, what about the other reasons? Well, it's all in good fun, but I'm going to tell you why we think we're single.  Please, feel free to comment (on the page) and add your two cents.  Oh, and if you want to know what my friend said, you'll have to read his blog:

Here's goes:

1. Many of the men we attract are undereducated.
I've heard on more than one occasion that I need to give the bus driver a chance.  Here's the problem with that. I'm not worried about how much money the bus driver makes (I know of one who works so many hours, he pulls in $80k/year). I'm more concerned about whether or not we share the same values in regards to education and ambition. Yes, there are some men with only high school diplomas who devour entire libraries on their down time, but there are many who do not. It turns out, it's safer to assume someone who is similar to you in educational attainment or career would have the same values concerning educational attainment or career. It's not a diss, it's a time saver. You don't go to a steakhouse when you especially want fish.  They might have excellent fish, but it just makes sense to go to a seafood restaurant, right?

2. I speculate that we might attract undereducated men because many of us have those traditional African features that have been routinely frown upon in American society - big butts, hips, full lips, wide noses, and sometimes natural (not chemically straightened) hair, and these men like that. The other group of men who like that are old.  These men are used to the idea that a sistah looks like a sistah, big ol' legs and all. Many (educated) Black men right now seem to want women who are less African and more European in their features if their skin is any shade of brown, and conversely, women with lighter/whiter shades of skin to have more traditional 'round the way girl bodies (L.A. face with an Oakland booty).  Older men have not bought into these physical beauty standards, so they are all about us. Only problem is, we don't want old men.

3. We intimidate (Black) men who seem to have more in common with us. 
One friend wondered if her advanced degree made some men feel like their advanced degrees weren't special enough.  Although we definitely appreciate a man with a good job and education, we don't swoon when they drive up in their BMWs/Jags/Lexuses and announce that they are electrical engineers/lawyers/doctors/businessmen.  This is a jumping off point, but it doesn't mean the deal is done. We think, okay, great, he and I probably have a few things in common, let's see where we go from here. (We think) they think that we're supposed to drop everything and be willing to give them and deal with whatever they want because they are educated and have a good job.  We are not, which means it is a whole lot harder to run game on us, or just be selfish because you've gotten away with being selfish before. Then there are the debates. When men get in each other's faces, it's considered dick measuring, we don't have dicks, so we're not interesting in debating politics/religion/what women need to learn to do for their men on our down time. We want to have FUN on our down time.

4. White men aren't attracted to us.
For the most part, we look like sistahs (see above) and American society frowns upon that (see above, again).

5. When White men are attracted to us, they are afraid to approach us.
Let me get this out of the way: I once read that White men assume all Black men have extremely huge penises and don't bother to approach Black women because Black women are used to these extremely large penises that they do not have. I do not know if there is truth in (any part of) this statement, but it's ridiculous and fascinating, so I thought I'd put it out there. Moving away from that, there are a ton of negative stereotypes about Black women, from being too sexual, to not being sexual at all, to being emasculating, to being extremely uneducated and poor. So, even when a White guy finds one of us attractive, we think he won't approach us with all of those terrible thoughts in mind.

6. When White men do approach us, they just think we are exotic sex toys that they have to try at least once. And nobody wants to be a toy.

7. Everything I said about White men is also true for other non-White/non-Black men, except, men from historically misogynistic cultures will try to dominate us, and we're not having it.

The above might suggest that we pretty much feel as though we are doomed to stay single forever because men are evil or worthless, but that's not true. Most of us believe our princes are going to come, but that it may take a little longer than it has for others because of the reasons above.  I also do not mean to imply that there aren't Black women with a ton of issues that keep them from having successful, healthy relationships. What I am saying is that for those of us who do not have those issues, have open minds, and are doing all those things people are constantly charging us to do when faced with our singledom, here are some reasons we think we are single.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Black Men in America

At this point, some of you might be wondering why I haven't or when I'm going to speak on the Trayvon Martin murder trial and verdict.  The main reason I haven't said anything until this point is because I don't feel like I have anything new to add to the conversation. At this point, I don't think anyone does. Also, I don't feel like the murder of Trayvon Martin is an isolated event. And if you're on Facebook right now, you're seeing all of these links to other instances of the current murders of young Black men.  But besides that, we live in a country that only exists because of the African slave trade. This is not an exaggeration. Centuries of free labor enabled the country to build an economy that allowed it to survive. This probably could lead to a few angry debates, but it's a historical fact that is super logical. If you began a business, it would be really easy to make a profit and sustain if creating and selling your product was almost completely free to you, right? Added to this, Michael Moore made the connection between the demise of slavery and the rise of the KKK and the NRA very clear.  Finally, if you're African American, it's likely that you know of an African American male directly or indirectly that has been murdered, and not due to media coverage.   Of course, Trayvon's murder was perpetrated by a non-Black person, but when someone is lost, it doesn't matter so much who took them away. On the other hand, the fact that this man was not Black aided in his being acquitted, which is clearly the problem.  But that's as far as I'm going to get into that, like I said, there's not much more I feel I can say.  What I feel I can add to the conversation is my own personal experiences with Black men in America.

A little about me. I have a doctorate, I live in a major city in the United States, I have a career, and I live comfortably. I'm not yet "well off," but for now, I'm comfortable. On the path I'm on now, I will one day be "well off." That being said, I'm from a smaller city in the United States from a working class background. I had a really great childhood. I was really into school and had a lot of fun winning competitions and getting involved in things like Talented and Gifted. My elementary school principal was amazing; somehow he managed to get Dexter King to come to one of our assemblies.   At my school, we got to learn a ton of Black history, and were rewarded for doing well. I was in the Junior Optimist Club and other stuff I can't really remember right now. I constantly won awards and competitions.  I also had a loving family. Both grandmothers knew how to cook and probably would have won any number of the reality cooking competitions, we spent a lot of time with them, and with our cousins on my fathers side. My cousins on my mother's side were either older, or traveled the world with my military uncle, but when they came to town it was a blast. One set of grandparents also owned a small house in a small town in the Ozarks, so we got to go there in the summer.  I was a chubby, but well-rounded kid. I probably got teased by my cousins more than my classmates, because I was running it at school! Oh, and my dad worked for Pepsi, so right after MJ underwent his first major plastic surgery, he got the local branch of Pepsi to sponsor a contest at the school. Don't ask me the details, I have no idea, I just remember that one of the prizes was a life-size cutout of MJ is his Bad cover pose. There were two cutouts, but my sis and I got one because it was our Daddy who started the whole thing, and I was in love with MJ, of course.

So, we were working class folks living in the hood, and it was awesome. Daddy tried to teach us how to swim, walked the bike trail with us, and even helped us play dress up in Mama's clothes, shoes, and makeup.  He worked nights, so he was there during the day. He was also the better cook, so he cooked, cleaned, played with us, then went to work, Monday through  Friday.  Then I hit the third grade and it became not awesome. At that point, my mother told my sister and me that our father was a drug addict. After that things got scary. First, I'd say about 50% of my personality comes from my father, 30% from my mother, and 20% from me (I can't really make any strong claims on the awesomeness that is me, I know where it really comes from). So, my father was my first best friend. I mean, like I was stuck to him anytime he was near me. He even told me that he would never again shave his moustache because, when I was a baby, he shaved it and I cried and wouldn't go to him.  When I say things got scary, I don't mean a 24/7 scary, there were still good times after that, but our lives definitely changed - a lot. Daddy lost his job, he was in and out of rehab, and during the "good" times, there was a countdown to meltdown in the back of my mind at all times. But, still, my father was the one who explained "romantic" love to me, explained that when I went to middle school I'd embarked on a new stage in life, but still had to be nice to my sister, and kept things a little fair; my Mama tended to side with the baby of the house (who is only 18 months younger than me). Oh, and he was my Nintendo partner. So, things became scarier, and harder, but they went on, until my father died. He was fatally shot by my cousin while breaking into my grandparents' home. That was 9/11/92, right before I turned 13.  To this day, despite the hard parts, I have many more good memories of my father than bad, and there are so many qualities he had that I thank God I have, and my future husband will have to have.  Clearly, he wasn't perfect, and there are many other not great things I could tell you, but I am blessed he was my dad.

You know how there seems to be a theme in movies and on tv that every family has that uncle in prison?  My family wasn't any different. For the first ten years or so of my life, my dad's older brother was that uncle.  I remember visiting him in prison, except I don't much remember him, I remember the family road trips, the yummy lunches my grandmother would make, and the sandbox we'd play in at the prison.  But, I do remember when he got out. He became an electrician, started to buy and flip houses, got married, acquired a step daughter and had his second daughter (he also had a daughter that was a few years older than me), and became the Successful One. He eventually got divorced and raised his youngest daughter as a single father, and would have kept his stepdaughter if her family hadn't intervened.  He also did a lot for my sister and me. After our father passed, he helped us out financially, but he also was just fun and cool. He let us have parties in his flipped houses - my 16th was the kind of 16th birthday party girls dream of (before that MTV show). He was silly and a little crazy, and seemed to always be excited about something.  My senior year in college, my mother told me he was a drug addict. I was SOOO angry! How could he do this to his daughter, especially after my dad?! All those times he'd been "sick" became clear. He then went back and forth to rehab, but for the most part was a "functioning addict." Until he went into my grandparents basement and shot himself in the head. His letter said he just couldn't take being an addict anymore and he didn't know what else to do. I wasn't able to go home for the funeral.

Remember when Atari first came out?  I barely remember, but I remember my older cousins had it, and my oldest cousin used to play it all the time, until Nintendo came out. Whenever we went over my cousins' house, two boys, I remember my oldest cousin just sorta in the background playing video games, while his younger brother would terrorize my sister and me (we loved it). My older cousin was a pretty cool guy, he was just old enough to not really be around much. I do remember that he used to have all the cool hairstyles and clothes when he was in high school, if one would argue that late eighties/early nineties styles were cool. Then, when he turned 18, he went off to the military. As his plane flew off, his younger brother began to cry. My sister and I were shocked. When we asked why he was crying, he said it was because he and his brother said they would always take their first flight together. My cousin wasn't gone too long before he was back, well first, he sent his baby daughter. He elected to raise her on his own when he and her mother didn't stay together; she was also in the military.  He was discharged because he developed a disorder that damaged his kidneys beyond repair. He was then on disability and raised his daughter with the help of his mom and grandmother.  She was a baby doll and I'll always remember holding her and singing to her.  My cousin once told his mother that he believed his disorder was his punishment for shooting his "Uncle Buddy", my father. My mother, sister, and I NEVER blamed him. His baby was in the house when it happened. As the years went by, he continued to raise my baby cousin and work on his health. He needed a new kidney and I was ready to give him one. We never went through anything formal, but I was serious, he was my big cousin and I loved him.  In general, he was great to just talk to whenever I was home from school, but he also did "nice big cousin things" like give me a wad of cash before I left for grad school. (He and the whole fam also packed up my college apartment in one fell swoop when I graduated from undergrad.)  One year, I missed him, so I called. We talked for a minute and he asked why I called, I said just to talk to him. He asked again, and it hit me, it was his birthday! He appreciated that I called, even if it was just 'cause.  Then there was a big accident where I live. He called to see if I was okay. I was at work, so I had my pinched, I can't talk voice. For some reason, his number wasn't in my phone. By the end of the conversation, my voice wasn't too pinched, but I always felt like it took me too long to get unpinched. I really appreciated him checking on me. That was our last conversation. After years of dialysis and never getting to the point where he was ready for a new kidney, his body gave out.  I heard the news just before a birthday dinner. I blurted it out to the birthday girl, then fled. I'm not one to cry in public, but I couldn't stop as I walked down the street, not sure where I was going. I was able to attend his funeral and I couldn't stop crying. Couldn't. Stop.

So, how does this connect to Trayvon's murder?  There's not much there directly, I admit. But, I think Trayvon's story became the story of what it means to be a Black man/boy in America, so I wanted to share with you the part of this story I've witnessed. I'm not saying that each man in my story didn't have his own flaws and didn't make his own mistakes, because that would be preposterous. What I am saying is that sometimes America isn't a place that is safe for Black men; whether it be how they have been targets and victims of the drug culture of this country pretty much since The Civil Rights Movement or how they are steeped in poverty that makes it difficult for them to get the healthcare they need. Sometimes, America leads you to believe that these men with all their flaws and problems are only their flaws and problems, and doesn't tell you how they can be the most amazing fathers, uncles, cousins, and sons.  Sometimes, America forgets to tell you how it kept telling them to give up, because all they had to look forward to was hopelessness. And sometimes, America leads you to believe that a man is not a man when he needs help, so when he cries out for it, America stifles his voice, slams the door, and walks away.

I'm not saying that America is all bad, or that Black men are all good. All I'm saying is that in America, what seems to be forgotten over and over again is that Black men are not all bad.