There is perhaps no greater talking point dominating the relationship circuit than the tale of the single black woman. And that tale isn’t received without venom from the black woman.
Black women are doomed to a life of singlehood because black men are jailbirds.
Black women are out-earning men and with that comes the demise of the black relationship.
Black women are outnumbering black men, so, yeah, there you have it.
For every 10 or so Tasha Macks, there is one good guy. So fight each other for that prize!
Rubbish. Hogwash. Balderdash. A few factors have to be considered long before diving into this discussion.
For one thing, debilitating stories about black people never had a problem catching anybody’s attention. Media outlets reporting the growth of the single black woman often report it on a macro-level, meaning that statistics are regurgitated, a known public figure is around to corroborate via a quote and the obligatory Oprah reference is made. This storytelling template renders context and nuance impossible.
Secondly, the demonization of black women is a lucrative field. That’s right. There are industries that are wholly dependent on the black woman’s insecurities. Prostitution, which is rooted in subterranean self-esteem, isn’t called the world’s oldest profession for nothing. This isn’t to say that these reports will make a drove of black women become prostitutes. It will, however, allow half-naked women and Nikki Minaj to persist on our television screens.
Do you think BET exists because it empowers black women? Yet, Viacom is pulling those strings because of, well, that profit thing. Black single woman woes sell magazines. Books. Make for fascinating reality television. Sends more women to the clubs. Women end up spending more money on clothes, nails and hair because there’s a man to be had. There are Indian and Korean industries that wouldn’t mind the continuance of single black women. In fact, I imagine they would welcome it.
Thirdly, there’s the subconscious element to consider. Our subconscious operate in absolutes. News, images, comments, readings, thoughts, noises, recantations and all that…is interpreted by the subconscious without discrimination in regards to the content matter. The subconscious is activated only by clarity of thought, repetition and emotions. If the same story is being told over and over with conviction, then that same story will come pouring out.
Input. Process. Output. That’s how the human hard drive works.
Combine these factors and there is every reason to be dubious about the reports and factoids surrounding the future of black women. The sky is not falling. Asteroids are dormant. And the sisters are not hopeless.
As a 24-year-old single black man, it is painful to see this deflating narrative sink into the psyche of my counterparts. One sister hit me up recently and told me the “ratio isn’t in my favor, so I’m giving up on true happiness.”
“True happiness” is mythic, so giving up on that is good. But that’s not what the sister meant. What she was really saying is that she is settling because she doesn’t deserve better. Or think she’ll get better. Or both.
In our society, being single is akin to being a leper. Perceptually, it is being a leper. Third-party perception and internal reality are rarely aligned, but the S.B.W. “dilemma” might be an exception. As my colleague wrote last week, the Economist saw fit to weigh in on this phenomenon. This piece made it unofficially official: The focus on a single dominant story is always the prerogative of media channels motivated by shareholders. As any freshman student majoring in finance will tell you, shareholders are beholden to only one thing.
There may be issues within the black male-female dynamic, issues which certainly can’t be wholly explained in a book, radio show or by Oprah. Incarceration hurts, sure. So does unemployment and poisonous cultural messages about who and what a man is. Cultural messages that affect women just as much (as evidenced by this and the number of black women who stay spouting the lyrics of their favorite hip-hop misogynist).
Throngs of unfit black men and women deserve to be single, as hordes of black men and women just don’t want to be in a relationship. That’s cool. In a perfect world, the issues of black women – or the black race – wouldn’t be ripe for pointing and lamenting and profit. But it is and perhaps always will be.
The gestation of this S.B.W. seed keeps black women fighting against other women. It keeps them fighting against black men. It keeps them fighting with themselves. As the world watches.