Yesterday I read this article over at The Root titled, “Well-Traveled, Intelligent Black Man, 34, Seeks ‘Sista’ OK With Him Making Less Money” written by Terrell Jermaine Starr. The framing of this article had me immediately going in with a slight side eye. What sob story was Starr about to spin? Here’s an excerpt:

I only began working full time in my 30s; I spent all of my 20s traveling around Eastern Europe—mainly through Peace Corps, Fulbright and language study-abroad programs—and earning degrees. I consider myself a very late bloomer who has just recently realized I can make a living keystroking breaking-news stories and Brooklyn Renaissance-ing my way into a literary career. As intellectually fruitful as my 20s were, my worldly and academic sojourns did little for my bank account. All my education and travel were fully paid with scholarships, so I guess that means something.

But I wasn’t climbing any corporate ladders and adding zeros to my salary year after year during my 20s, like most women my age were doing, so I find myself financially incompatible. I can’t say that I’ve dated dozens of women who’ve told me as much, but my female friends have given me the impression that someone like me doesn’t bleep on their “He is dating, and perhaps marrying, material” radar.

Most of them are making six-figure salaries, or near that amount, and insist that their partners make at least as much. I’m a senior editor at a website—not an entry-level money earner, but I’m not making six figures, either, so I’m pretty much out of their league with regard to dating. Of course, I’m acutely aware of the fact that many black women have “dated and married down” economically, but I surmise they’ve grown weary of doing so. Complaints about men taking advantage of their financial status pervade most conversations I hear over why many women prefer to only date men who are their economic equals. For the record, I’d have no issue dating women who earn more than I do, and I’m not exclusively pursuing women with deep pockets, so don’t tweet me your foolishness.

Well I have no chill so I tweeted him with my foolishness.

I didn’t get it. I wanted to say more, but I had things to do and a life to live. Thankfully, Demetria Lucas, dating and relationship expert and contributor for The Root wrote a response in her She Matters column. The piece titled, “To the ‘Well-Traveled’ Black Man Seeking a ‘Sista’: There Are More Women Out There Than You Think.” She wrote:

I applaud his honesty about his perceived shortcomings. I wish he had stopped there. Or, at least, continued to explore that thought. Our culture judges a man’s worth less by who he is and more by what he earns. It’s oppressive to men in a similar way that it’s oppressive to women that culturally, we judge them solely by their looks and ignore everything else they bring to the table. I wish Starr had gone more in the direction of exploring his own issues instead of blaming women—and reaching far to do so.

In addition to his own insecurity about his finances, Starr relies on the go-to argument for why he’s single: by blaming black women’s professional success. He speaks of his circle of six-figure-earning friends and their perceived reluctance to date a man who, at 34, is just getting his résumé together (despite the informal poll he took on Twitter, where most women said otherwise). I respect his perspective, but from mine as a dating and relationship coach, it just doesn’t add up.


Just from Starr’s essay, it sounds as though one of the compelling reasons he is single—in addition to his insecurity, which is the prominent reason—is that he is limiting his dating prospects to outliers, all of whom he perceives as finding him undesirable. That’s simply not the case for every high-earning woman.

Exactly! Starr’s woe is me tale didn’t sit right with me. And even though I make nothing close to six figures (one day sweet baby Jesus!), I didn’t appreciate the characterization of Black women in this income bracket. He seemed to put all his dating issues and weight on them. And besides all of that, I found it pretty hard to believe that a man who writes well (and I’m assuming speaks well), is fluent in multiple languages, is gainfully employed, and is relatively attractive is not only single (hasn’t had a girlfriend since 1998. Really dude? This might be your red flag of all red flags), but also has a hard time getting a woman.


Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Maybe check your priorities, standards, what you’re drawing into your life. That’s what single women typically get told, right? Right. Maybe he should focus on his shortcomings or what he perceives women view as his shortcomings and accentuate the positive. Maybe he needs to whisper one of those languages in a woman’s ear. Maybe he needs to make more money. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Wink. Maybe he needs to drop some of his ‘I’m so awesome’ attitude and act like Black women know that Black people can speak other languages – including Russian. Maybe he needs to expand his dating pool. But he definitely needs to shift his dating burden off the women and onto himself.

Did you read Starr’s article? What did you think?

Diana Veiga is a Spelman woman, a DC resident, and a freelance writer. Of course, she’s also on Twitter.

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