Apparently the relationship status of black women has reached “crisis” level (42% are single). But don’t fret ladies, ABC News/ Nightline is on the case. They’ve also sought the assistance of comedian-turned-relationship guru Steve Harvey. Harvey’s advice to fine-looking, twenty and thirty-something black women: get you an old cat daddy, they knows how to treat y’all. (insert eyeroll here)
“Blah blah blah blah, blah blah by myself.”
I don’t mean to be callous. But the “why black women are still single” narrative is getting a bit trite. So why am I posting about it again? In short, I’m a cultural critic and am especially concerned about black women as subjects. What troubles me most about the news stories and articles that profile the state of single black women is that most of these pieces hover fairly closely to black pathology theses. Black women are too picky/snobby/overeducated/emasculating/status-driven … blah blah blah blah. Black men are players/in jail/undereducated/all dating white women … blah blah blah blah.
Needless to say, these profiles make a number of troubling assumptions (most that are conservative, heterosexist, divisive along gender lines) that ultimately affirm that something is “wrong” with black people.
Is the marital status of black women a debate that should be played out in the media? And if so, how can such a conversation become more productive? What do studies that predict the improbability that a black woman will marry a black man hope to gain by trotting out bleak statistics? Can these kinds of debates be reframed in a way that doesn’t blame black women for being single or that presumes that something is inherently wrong with (you for) being single?