While I am tired of the stats, studies, and magazine articles that sentence successful black women to a life of spinsterhood, I know a number of these “surveyed” women: educated, attractive, employed, well-heeled, single and searching. The desire for love and a partner is nothing to scoff at and Helena Andrews, author of Bitch is the New Black discusses candidly the loneliness that some single black women feel as well as the steely exteriors they put up in order to shield themselves from racist work environments and a taxing dating world. The “mask” Andrews talks about reminds me of the “culture of dissemblance” Darlene Clark Hine details in her brilliant piece “Rape and the Inner Lives of Black Women.” While I am not equating rape and the threat of rape to singlehood and potential loneliness, both examples speak to the ways that black women have cultivated exterior appearances to hide the emotional tumult that sometimes rages inside.
While I haven’t yet read Helena Andrews’ book, which she describes as a black Sex and the City meets Bridget Jones’ Diary, I have been working on and longing for more books that look at the lives of urban black women (or Sistas and the City). Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes is set to produce the film version of Bitch, which I hope will not merely be Sex and the City in blackface. I watched the exploits of Carrie, Miranda, Sam and Charlotte as faithfully as most of my black girlfriends and even empathized with some of their experiences but black women have our own stories and not all of them are about “triumph and strength.”