Every time we look up there is a new story about how so many black women are unmarried and examining the possible causes.
In her recent article “All The Single Ladies (And Men) Deserve A Break” Kellee Terrell asks that we stop pointing fingers at single black women (and men) and start pointing them at the media:
What’s interesting is that every five years, this topic dusts itself off and re-emerges with a trendy news hook. This time around, we have [Tyler] Perry’s exhaustive body of work and our infatuation with the Obamas’ marriage to blame for why this topic just won’t die. You know it’s bad when the subject has infiltrated spaces like the Economist magazine.
My issue isn’t with the fact that we are talking about straight black romantic relationships; it’s with how we are talking about them. These conversations are not nuanced, eye-opening or constructive. Instead they are dominated by malicious finger-pointing, and cloaked in sexist and classist undertones that do nothing but insinuate that we as black people are pathological. A lot of the fingers point toward black women in particular.
The issue is complex, but we understand how the nuance gets lost in the word count. It’s hard to present these issues with ALL of the facts and scenarios and still keep things brief enough to keep our reader’s attention.
Fortunately Terrell offers some suggestions about how to go about this conversation in the right way:
Don’t get me wrong; folks have some legitimate reasons to be upset, and we do need to continue to call each other out — in a more civil and dignified manner. But at some point, we also have to be willing to recognize when our complaints are based on sexist ridiculousness, reactionary bitterness and unrealistic expectations.
What’s missing is a conversation about how jumpin’ the broom might not make you complete if you were not complete to begin with. And how you shouldn’t feel like a complete failure if you haven’t or never will wed.
What’s also missing is a constructive conversation about self-analysis and healing. Hey, life is hard, and we need to address the role that our own baggage — past experiences, upbringing and trauma — plays in how we view ourselves and relate to one another. And most important (channeling my inner bell hooks here), we need to be open to understanding how oppression — whether racism, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia or classism — plays out in our everyday lives and affects our romantic relationships. More important, we need to understand how our internalization of all of those prejudices truly messes us up.
Do you agree that the way the media talks about black relationships is damaging to our psyche?
We agree that it’s time to change the subject, and we think that looking at the topic in a different way may be key to actually finding some solutions.
Since Terrell suggests starting with dealing with our emotional baggage as single people — we wanted to start there.
How has your upbringing influenced your attitude toward marriage and relationships? Does the media play a role in how you date? If you date outside your race, what made you take those steps? What problems have you encountered dating or marrying outside of your race? What are some of the unfair accusations/assumptions you have about the opposite sex? What are some of the unfair accusations/assumptions you’ve faced?
Do you think the black community’s attitude towards counseling and psychotherapy is part of the problem?