Whether by the flicker of the television screen or the saturating effect of being broadcast as front page news, the plight of the black woman and her perils with life in the singlehood is not only a front and center story in the world of media, but it’s an obvious truth that doesn’t take a CNN Special to diagnose as a well known problem.

Yet after shoving the countless number of redundant headlines to the side, the story continues to regurgitate itself in many platforms, and frankly black women are tired of hearing about it. The number of shoulda coulda woulda articles, the tossing of fingers that place the blame on us for not wanting to choose a man outside of our sightline is about as ridiculous as a persons ability to read mathematical sums, yet not be able to discern the formula it took to get there.

We all see the elephant in the room, but how many of us can say that we truly understand how the elephant got there. This idea holds true when we question the downshift in the state of the single Black Male. What happened to our Brothers, those men who breathe the warm characteristics of some of our fathers, the dreamers who gripped heavy to the rainbow, as well as our hand, while sliding towards that pot of gold in pursuit of an admirable future? What happened to us?

“Raising Tyrone” for me isn’t just an opinion piece or an article based on cemented fact, rather it’s a question in my heart that has sparked a resounding interest from every sister and brother I’ve talked to when searching to understand how many of our Black Men went from being the apple in our eye to the very thing we sometimes despise when we’re on that quest for love. Thus being the reason why many of us are still single and waiting.

For most single black females it’s not a conversation about the shortage of black men that really exists as the problem, rather it’s the lack of quality men that keep us more than a shoulder length away from satisfying our hearts or stepping on that road to matrimony, unless you choose to look outside your pigment.

No more than the world can point the finger at how we got here and what we Sisters need to do to get out of our single situation, do I have the perplexing answer to the 8th Wonder of The World when it comes to figuring out how our black men went from the ere of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to echoing the same behavior of the infamous “Tyrone” to some other “No Good Brother,” many of us have stumbled upon in pursuit of something genuine.

If I know anything in life, I realize that it all starts from the roots, so I pose a question to myself as well as those reading… We probably can’t fix the holes in the clothing of a man who’s already crossed the bridge to 30, but in considering our progeny and the direction they’ll take in the future, can we play around with the idea that possibly we’re the ones downshifting the gears in black men and Raising Tyrone, while preventing our sons and daughters from having a better chance at love than we do? Certainly.

The Alaina Lewis Theory
Some say, we’re all really just a carbon copy of a carbon copy, passed down from another generation of distinct characteristics that are seemingly ingrained in our being, whether we care to admit that we’re more like our parents then we once thought.

When I think of myself, my weathered eyes are focused on the reality that I take a lot of my cues from my mother and father. As an adult, and a graduate from the “I’ll Never Be Like My Parents,” way of thinking, often times I find myself emulating an action or a saying that is etched in my mind’s trap door, or simply embodying the same images that I grew up seeing day to day. It’s almost something we can’t help considering that we’re all visionaries in some way or another and life is like a spreadsheet of constant memories that are stored for future reference.

When I think of my strengths, my weaknesses, the dynamics of my heart, and the driven nature that seems to come from a familiar existence, I know that I’m a product of my parents.

But what about “Tyrone”? The best way to learn how to be a counterproductive individual is to be spawn from an environment that doesn’t encourage movement. “Tyrone”- a fictional character grown from a series of other names that many of us sisters are familiar with, can’t grow up and hold down a job, fight for an education, stay out of prison, or choose to deal knowledge rather than drugs if he was taught to aim for the bottom. Sure, if I go right, you do have the choice to go left, but most of us do what’s comfortable for us especially when the outcome is already familiar.

If your environment doesn’t offer you any inspiration to be greater than what you see, well then you won’t know how to be anything either than what you know. Apart from the good ones, most of the “chuckle heads” (putting it lightly) out here might come from a broken home, a background of drugs, crime, and overall drama while they were growing up, that they’ve seemingly applied as roadmap to how they’ll lead their future. In their homes there was no talk about aiming high, because most of their life was about surviving the bullsh*t, which is why Tyrone is happy there.

Assessing what we’re projecting to our youth and making a change will secure a better future for our children as adults. Implanting damaging images and continuing to show our youth how low we can go will keep us from securing a good relationship with ourselves as well as another individual in our future.

The Jesse D. Theory
Pop culture is the real culprit behind the lack of good men. When you consider who many of our youth consider heroes, the unfortunate truth is that a lot of their eyes all point to people like Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and 50 Cent rather than the President, because their definition of cool and how they think they should behave comes from the images that they see on television, and seemingly the negative ones often leave the biggest impact.

It’s not just about the parenting that keeps our youth from advancing into desirable male figureheads, it’s the aid in the media in raising our children by being the ones to pick up the pieces where our parents fail to support us. What you see is what you get, and if they’re are no strong males in your life whether in front of the camera or behind the scenes, where do you look to for inspiration to be more than the negativity you see on a regular basis?

The Tometria Bean Theory
There’s so many fingers pointed at who to place the blame on why our youth grow up to become Tyrone, that we forget that maybe it’s not that they don’t want to be strong black males, but rather that they are fearful of the sentencing that comes from being a black male who embodies strength and admiration. They shot Malcom, they shot Martin, they shot, Biggie, they shot Pac, and so many of us were and are still worried that they’ll come after our new President. Who wants to be a leader or a stand up man if all the leaders that we’ve had were struck down for being a positive example? Maybe many of our men our so wrapped up in being off the radar that they don’t feel they need to be there for their women either.

The Crystal Toatley Theory
I see so many sisters out here trading their pride for a crappy relationship, thus keeping the cycle of misplaced love continuing on for yet another generation. If my son or daughter sees me dating a man who doesn’t contribute, care about my feelings, desire to be faithful, or spend time with my children, then that becomes their norm as well and they grow up to emulate the same nonsense they see day to day.

Somewhere in the 70’s during the introduction of drugs we became relaxed from not only passing the grass, but we also became relaxed on our values which transferred over into our parenting. Our children see what we do, and many declare to do the same because they can relate better to what they’ve already been through.

If our sons know that their own mother will take care of a no good man- the very woman that they likely consider the best woman breathing, then they know that some woman out there will do the same for them too, and it almost comes as an expectation.

We come from a tragic past, that most of us are still defining as our excuse as to why our futures don’t shine as bright as others, but how long will that tiny violin last, when everyone else is already willing to pick up a new instrument?

Clutchettes and Gents what’s your theory on how we Raised Tyrone?

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  • Mix all those theories together and you nailed it on the head.

    Lack of visable role models, socio-economic background, lack of opportunities and an army of enablers helps to continue thet cycle.

    The solutions to these problems are is the difficult part.

    The easy way is to start snatching kids up away from their enviorments when they are still young and surrounding them with poper role models and isolating them from negative images incuding everything on the TV.

    But you cant do that so I believe it has to be tasked to the schools to teach life skills as well as the ABCs, it’s the only place you can get them away from the streets and and in one spot at the same time.

    Thats all boys schools too.

    The adults are going to have to figure it out by trial and error, and people are going to have to let them sink and swim.

  • tiff sharpe

    Great article! I too ponder these things. For example, Hill Harper is an excellent black man however he is no where close to being married. Why? Why should he? With credentials like that there’s plenty to pass around. Further, the “chuckleheads” as you call them, have not interest in growing up because nothing dictates that they should. As long as their are scallywags, overbearing Mamas and drama there will be Tyrone.

  • JD

    To sum it all up, yes, there are so many reasons why we have Tyrone, that it almost seems virtually impossible for the day to come where we’ll have someone different. It’s the slippery slope that kept sliding until it wouldn’t quit.

    Lord help our children, if when have to deal with BS men today, what say you to their offspring for tomorrow

    • Ahmad

      I appreciate the depth that this article presents. Unfortunately it rouses the same questions that every black forum from the town hall meetings of Tavis Smiley’s “whose who” panel series, to every other magazine article about bruthaz tryin to get it together and sistaz who are cought up in their crap. Bill Cosby spoke the truth.

      Granted he wasn’t popular for doing it, and he is hardly a roll model with a gaggle of women in his own freaky past. But dammit Cosby puts his money where his mouth is. He dumps million into black colleges, and all we have to do is get some bruthaz to graduate high school to go! There is only one way to solve this and nobody is going to like it. It’s going to take a communty effort (I know. Who and what community right?). People are going to have to go out of their way to get bruthaz where they want to go, in the same manner that certain charter schools in harlem are doing it. Long hours, family intervention, personal attention, coalitions backed by millions of dollars and a few legislators to boot. It won’t seem fair, because as individuals we all have our own business to tend to in the way of families, career, relationships, etc, but in essence it will take many hands to uplift Tyrone if we are truly committed to doing it.

  • Dawn

    It’s really upsetting to me that young boys idolize celebrities who are immoral and glorify women as nothing but objects, cheating on women (having someone on the side of your “main chick”) or not caring about women (the only don’t catch feelings for a b#*%c) or having babies out of wedlock (let’s go half on a baby)

    The complete disrespect for women in popular rap kills me and is a slap in the face to every woman. I, as a woman, refuse to listen to any song that includes derogatory language because I’ve done nothing to deserve being so disrespected.

    It’s become so commonplace, I don’t think most of us think about it. I’m amazed when I’m out and see so many women singing along to songs that boil them down to body parts or refer to them as a “b” or an “h”. Ugh!

    I think if pop culture made it cool to be respectful of women, be faithful, go to college, etc., then we’d see a huge switch in the behavior of children who might not already have a positive role model in their lives.

    I also think parents need to address – with both young boys and girls – why the messages are harmful and why growing up to be a moral, honest person is what’s really the definition of a strong male – and female.

  • caramelgirl

    I know we all have complaints about our community and culture, etc, but how many of us have actually tried to do something about it? JD you make things seem so impossible and hopeless. Hellooo , we have a black president, a positive role model for young people everywhere. I definitely think we’re headed in the right direction. Everyday I’m noticing more black men and women becoming aware, consciously, and I see more examples of my people reaching higher than ever before. I agree with Ahmad, that the solution to Tyrone will have to a community effort. We all have to wake up, take a stand, and take our community back. We can’t just sit back and watch, criticize then shake our heads and say, “Oh lord Jesus save them” Then we’ll have more teens being brutally killed like that poor boy in Chicago, or more girls being gang raped like in Cali in front of a crowd. Come on people. You all know that if it was as many Tyrones in the white community, they wouldn’t stand for it. And to Clnmike, you can show the young people in your community a positive role model, by being one. Be the change that you want to see people.