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Yes, Yes, Y’all Women Can Have it All: An Open Letter to Susan Patton

Dear Ms. Patton,

Last Saturday I came across an article you wrote in the Daily Princetonian about why women who go to Princeton should get their MRS degree before they graduate. Jaw-dropped and aghast I recounted the contents of your piece to my sister over lunch that day. My sister’s initial response was “Did she really say this?” “Well maybe she was kidding?” “Do you think she was kidding?” “Let’s hope she was kidding.” And 4 or 5 days later I got my answer when I came across the second post you wrote in the Huffington Post defending your original position to the ground. After having read both your pieces and watched the fire storm of video clips and interviews that followed I’m appalled on so many different levels. If there’s one thing that history has taught it’s that education has always been the path by which women (and many racial/ ethnic groups) have sought to gain and exercise their full potential. That’s why they fought for it. For you to suggest that the only way women can graft their sense of value is through men, by proxy is DIS-empowering and furthermore makes a mockery of the hard won achievements of the decades of women that have gone before us. It’s also heterosexist and in very poor taste. We have a (bad) habit in this culture of linking heterosexual desire, love, and romance whether intentionally or unintentionally to happiness. But what does that mean for our LGBT friends? Us heteros don’t own the patent on happy and valued relationships you know. And here’s a newsflash – TRADITIONAL IS OUT! Women (and men) for that fact are getting married later in life. Same-sex couples have been challenging the notion of what family is and looks like. In this day and age there are many ways for women at whatever stage of life they find themselves in to have the family and the love they want and desire. So, if a woman chooses IVF, adoption, and/or surrogacy who are you to suggest that she has lost out or it is tragic in some way? To be clear the difficulty that women have in achieving work-life balance has to do with unequal pay in the work place, un-equitable sharing of household responsibilities by men, lack of flexible work schedules, and feasible childcare arrangements. That is where the blame and critique has to lie – with our social institutions, inequality, societal expectations and norms around gender, patriarchy, and sexism, not with so called “flawed choicing skills” of educated straight women. Well-meaning advice about our biological clock ticking only adds insult to injury and exacerbates unfounded social pressures and fears that if we hetero women don’t meet our mates early in life we may well have missed our chance. Does marriage have an expiration date? Moreover, if the conventional wisdom is that men feel threatened by women who are more educated than them that should give us pause and we should really be concerned about what qualities we are socializing straight men to look for in a life partner. Really, it’s a criticism of masculinity that needs to be levied here. Also, there’s no guarantee that if well-educated straight women marry straight men from elite institutions they won’t be threatened by their intelligence either. Their male partners could very well be narcissistic in which case these well educated women could spend the rest of their lives competing with their husbands who feel the need to shore up their masculinity by always topping their wives. Lastly, I resent the implication that there are only two categories for women “dumb and pretty” and therefore by default “smart and ugly” – that kind of thinking and rhetoric is both reductionist and dangerous. If as you claim men are willing to marry girls who are less well educated if they “hot” or “good looking” then once again we should be concerned about what qualities we are socializing straight men to look for in a life partner. Like my friend Courtney would say “Am I not sexy with a book? Pretty in our culture is extremely objectified and a very coded word that is based on artificial norms which are racialized, class, and gender specific as well. As a thirty something African-American woman pursuing my PhD where would I fit in your dichotomy? I am never going to be a blond busty chick with long flowing hair and soft doe eyes, and petite lips. And if smarts don’t count for much according to your equation, I’m royally flushed. Bottom line Ms. Patton, the advice your dispensing is retro, outdated, passé but most of all its harmful and offensive! I think when it comes down to it its about choosing well and straight men from elite institutions are not the only partners worth having. To suggest that men can have it all but women have to make sacrifices is not a message that I am comfortable passing down to our sisters, daughters, or our sons for that matter. Instead we should tell women they can GET EVERYTHING and to surround themselves with people who will help them achieve, do, be, and have everything they ever wanted. Yes, yes, y’all, women can have it all!

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Reflections on Being My Father’s Daughter

As a self-identified black feminist, I am always looking for an opportunity to engage in conversations about race and gender politics. So on Thursday night I attended a panel at Syracuse University on engaging men in violence prevention work. I was both intrigued and excited to hear how it was that each of these men got involved in anti-violence work and what were the particular trajectories that had lead them there. Since the panel was multi-generational as well as multi-racial I expected a range of perspectives would emerge. What I didn’t anticipate was the intensity of my personal reaction to the stories and things that were shared. Because we as women of color have endured sexual and domestic violence throughout our history, I would never dare call myself  a surivor. To do so seems disingenious. But as I listened to one of the panelists recount his experience growing up in a home where his father perpetrated emotional abuse aganist his mother I felt pierced. I hadn’t realized until that moment that being my father’s daughter has been one of the greatest challenges of my life. For almost 15 years of my life he waged war aganist my mother and my siblings and I with his words. And every day my self-worth was diminshed a little more each day. Even more damaging is that he broke my trust in men. To this day my greatest fear is marrying a man that’s like my father. In many ways my relationship with father remains conflicted and unresolved but as I move forward I am humbled and moved by the work that men such as Don McPherson, Joe Samlin, Sacchi Patel, and Marc Peters are doing to end gender violence and reconceptualize masculinity. If as Raheem Mack said violence is in our homes then to all the fathers and men be careful, your daughters are watching you.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Where Do We Go From Here?: “No Wedding, No Womb”, One Year Later

Today marks the 2nd  annual “No Wedding, No Womb” campaign. For last year’s campaign I wrote a piece called Whose Body Is This: A Statement on “Out of Wedlock Births” in the Black Community. Like so many others, my intention in writing that piece and reason for participating in the campaign was to call attention to the “out of wedlock” birth epidemic in our community. The central thesis of my argument was and still is that  the social costs of “out of wedlock” births is too high a price for us to pay. As a black-feminist-scholar-in-the-making, I felt my charge was to speak to the negative impact that “out of wedlock” births have on the life chances, social trajectories, self-esteem, and identity development of young African-American women. I wanted to invoke a sense of urgency in us to do something about the plight that far too many Black girls find themselves in and to seriously consider the pernicious effects that “out-of-wedlock” births have on the possibility of who our young women imagine they can be and become. I thought for sure that “No Wedding, No Womb” was a cause behind which the Black community could and would unite.  I was wrong. The backlash and resistance to the campaign was palpable. I think folks on every side wrongly perceived the “NWNW” contributors to be placing the blame for “out of wedlock” births on the backs of teenage African-American girls–those who often shoulder the responsibility of single parenting. Let me be clear in saying: we weren’t. Yet and still, the question of whose to blame for “out of wedlock” births in the Black community  is an important and significant one.

And so to answer the critics and the naysayers, I am going to put the cards on the table. There are many culprits, but chief among them is racism. Racism has and continues to structure the lives of African-Americans (and other folks of color) in harmful and destructive ways. It is a cancer, a canker sore that is deeply woven into the fabric of society and that pervades the essence of every institution, relationship, practice, and discourse we engage in as human beings. And then poverty. Poverty is what deprives our children of a relationship with and exposure to opportunities that are not yet available in their current environment. It is a dream thief and a close relative of  “out of wedlock” births. Next up is unemployment. As history demonstrates, African-Americans, and in particular Black men have always had high rates of unemployment, been unemployed, and/or otherwise unemployable–a situation which has been made inordinately worse by the current economic climate and recession our nation has been plunged into. Lastly, is the issue of incarceration. The mass internment of Black men in correctional facilities (a.k.a. the prison industrial complex) is the single most detrimental and corrosive factor to seize hold of the African-American community in our lifetime. Adam Jones notes that to destroy a people in war, you must first, kill or capture the battle-age males in the group (2001).  Now one year later, I have come to understand the “No Wedding, No Womb” campaign is just as much about recovering our boys and men as it is about saving our girls and women. The truth is we need, and when I say we I mean the entire community, NEEDS Black men as elders, fathers, role models, leaders, husbands, lovers, same-sex partners, etc..  How can the healing begin if the men aren’t there? Who will protect our children, if they have no mothers and no fathers? How can we re-imagine the relationships between men and other men, women and other women, and across genders, if we don’t widen the spectrum of masculinities, femininities, and sexualities that our children see?

So the question is: where do we go from here? I strongly believe the potentiality for our agency and collective empowerment lies in the political mobilization of the Black community. First, we have to FIGHT. Agitate!  Agitate! Agitate!  As Frederick Douglas said “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” We must learn to leverage power in ways that force the powers that be to their knees, literally. To use a turn of phrase that is popular in Evangelical Christian circles “with one hand we must build the wall and with the other be fighting back the enemy”. We cannot sit quietly and we cannot go silently. There is much work to be done. We have to keep pushing until something gives. Concomitantly, we must refuse to collude in our own oppression or be lulled into participating in our own demise. We got to hold back every force or element that seeks to win our consent in the destruction of our community. We gotta FIGHT BACK right now! The “No Wedding, No Womb” campaign is about raising a village–to do so means we need all hands on deck, every man, woman, and child. Our history proves its possible. Our legacy proves its inevitable. The only thing that remains yet to be seen is whether we have the will power to do what is necessary. “No Wedding, No Womb” is about charting a better path and future for all African-American children in light of yesterday, in service of today, and in hope for tomorrow.

References

1. Jones, A. (2001). Effacing the Male: Gender, Misrepresentation, and Exclusion in the Kosovo War. Transitions: The Journal of Men’s Perspectives, 21: 1-3: Retrieved 9/20/11 at http: adamjones.freeservers.com/effacing.htm.

For more information on “No Wedding, No Womb” please visit: http://ww.noweddingnowomb.com

 

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Whose Body Is This: A Statement on “Out of Wedlock Births” in the Black Community

Last Monday, I watched a rerun episode of the Tyra show which drove home the entire significance of this “No Wedding, No Womb” campaign. Tyra was giving the results of her show’s annual teen sex survey and sitting on the stage next to her were 6 or 7 teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 18 years of age. As Tyra read the percentages of teens who admit they don’t use condoms before intercourse, drink prior to sexual activity, and who admit to having numerous sexual partners, the audience gasped in major disbelief.

As each of these young women took a turn answering Tyra’s questions about their sexual lives, I noticed several dominant discourses emerging in these girls narratives of “sex talk”. Most of the girls described sex as merely an afterthought—it was something that “just happened one night.” There was no planning—no foresight—thus no contraception. They hadn’t intended to have sex with that boy but they started fooling around and one thing lead to another….. Some girls asserted that sex made them popular—translation, “If I give it up, boys will want me.” Many girls were “looking for love” in all the wrong  places, saying things like“ I don’t feel good about myself, “I don’t like myself,” or “I don’t feel pretty and that’s why I do it.”  They claimed when they had sex they felt loved but once it was over the feelings of inferiority and “ugliness” returned with a vengeance. For other girls it was simply about the pleasure principal—having sex felt good to them. After the show was over I sat on my couch in deep thought or reflection wondering what I could say about all this. I guess what concerned me was not so much that some girls believed that having sex makes you popular with boys (it doesn’t) or that some girls just wanted to have sex because it feels good. Rather, what troubled me was that these girls seemed to lacked ownership of their bodies and by extension sexual reproductive organs. Implicit was the notion that sex is something you do for someone else—in particular for someone of the male persuasion—you are an object of male desire, nothing more or less. 

However, for colored girls the ramifications of discourses of sexual pleasure and popularity are not without impunity—there are social consequences, one of the most prevalent being out of wedlock births. Statistics reveal that teen pregnancy rates among black adolescent girls are more than 2x that of white adolescents and that one in every four black children born are to teen mothers.[1]  Had one of those young women of color on the Tyra show got pregnant she would not fair as well nor be as lucky as her white female counterparts. In the black community “out of wedlock” births has become a normalized feature of female adolescence. Young brothers run around siring children for whom they take no economic or emotional responsibility for. Inevitably, child-rearing gets left to the women who bear the brunt of the social stigma and scrutiny levied at single mothers of color in our society. We have entirely too many “aunties, grandmas, mommies”, etc… watching each others babies while she goes to work not because there are no fathers but we don’t know where they are. The social costs of “out of wedlock” births are tremendous, ever-increasing, and have far-reaching implications for our overall life, health, and longevity as a community.

It doesn’t come as news to any of us that teenage mothers of color struggle tremendously to stay in school, juggling the responsibilities of being a parent with that of being a student. Often, they have to drop out to get a job or end-up enrolling in some kind of alternative education program; and if they do not earn their high school diploma or GED equivalent that does not portend well for their current economic situation or future prospects either. Moreover, the social disadvantages accrued to children born “out of wedlock” are vast and numerous, extending to every area including healthcare, education, profession, etc… It has been said that a child’s zip code is the number one predictor of quality of education they will receive and when poverty is intertwined with teenage pregnancy as it so often is, the “out of wedlock” birth epidemic in the Black community virtually guarantees a sub-par, substandard, inferior education for countless numbers of African-American children. An impoverished education also denies African-American children access to the cultural capital— that is social networks, material resources, opportunities, rigorous academic courses, and the knowledge needed to navigate higher education and the professional job market. To condemn a child to a second-rate education in this day and age is a severe limitation. Frequently, children who come from poverty stricken communities of color usually have health problems that translate to a transient school record and low academic performance.

In the case of poor urban populations access to healthcare is mediated by the government which means our bodies become owned and controlled by the state apparatus.[2] Privacy is erased.[3] One has to divulge their sexual history just to receive earmarked social services.[4] Being dependent on the “good will” of the state forces us to surrender our bodies as well as our reproductive rights which opens us up to public censure and widespread criticism.[5]

Indeed, the trope of the “welfare queen” is still alive and well today in popular discourse. As a community I believe we can longer ignore or deny the deleterious effects of non-marital child-bearing on the life chances, outcomes, and trajectories of Black kids’ lives. There is no cure, no salve, no substitution, or replacement big enough to fill the hole left by a father’s physical, emotional, and spiritual absence and/or abandonment in the home. TRUST. I have mad love for the single mothers who are holding it down and raising their kids. As rapper/artist Fredo Starr said “single mothers y’all my heroes, y’all my queens.” However, it is high time that kings—FATHERS, step up to their fatherly responsibilities.

I believe Judge Glenda Hattchet put it best when she said “If we want our children to do right, we have to do right by our children”. Now is the time to take back our community. “No Wedding, No Womb!”


[1] Roberts, Dorothy. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. New York, NY: Random House, 1998.

[2] Davis, Angela. Women, Culture, and Politics. New York: Vintage Books, 1990

[3] Bhattacharjee, Mala & Silliman, Jael (Eds.) Policing the National Body: Sex, Race, and Criminalization. Massachusetts: South End Press, 2002.

[4] Davis, Angela. Women, Culture, and Politics.  New York: Vintage Books, 1990

[5] Bhattacharjee, Mala & Silliman, Jael (Eds.) Policing the National Body: Sex, Race, and Criminalization. Massachusetts: South End Press, 2002.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Kicking Over Sacred Cows in the Church!

I’ve recently begun to question much of the church’s doctrine and position on dating, marriage, and relationships. As an African-American woman whose been church-ed for all my natural born childhood, and adult life I am quite familiar with the “don’t be unequally yoked,”, “the man is supposed to find you”, and “just focus on God, the husband will come” rhetoric. The problem with the “just wait on God” mantra which the church espouses so liberally is that it doesn’t match up with real life experiences of many women of color who like me have done nothing but focus on God and their career and still aren’t married. In her article How the Black Church Keeps Black Women Single Deborah Cooper claims that black churches play a key role in keeping black women single and alone, waiting for Mr. Right, all the while taking care of the churches’ business. (Follow this link for Deborah’s article: http://survivingdating.com/black-churches-how-black-churches-keep-african-american-women-single-and-alone)

It’s that old “if you take care of God’s house, he will  take care of your house” adage. And it’s not just traditional black churches which espouse such traditional notions about a single woman’s place in God’s house. Growing up in the Pentecostal faith tradition with mostly white congregations, I can attest to the fact that many of us are taught it is a man’s job to pursue us and our job is to wait–anything more smacks of and/or constitutes Jezebel or harlot like behavior in the eyes of the church. But what exactly are we waiting for? I hate to say it but I’ve come to the conclusion that Mr. Right is probably not in the church, at least not for educated and/or professional sisters of color. Of course, a lot of it has to do with the church and it’s perpetuation of traditional gender roles which does not jive well with the self-assured, independent “woman vibe” that a lot of women of color subscribe to. Gender equality is something that women of this generation demand. However, because the church maintains such rigid views on a man and a woman’s place in the marriage relationship, it causes ruptures and tears for many of us female egalitarian sisters of color sitting on the pews.

The other “elephant in the room”, is the “do not be unequally yoked” doctrine which presumes to tell us single gals that all we need to be concerned with is the spiritual state of our future spouse and as long as that is settled everything will be alright. I heard my Pastor say it this way “anyone whose not a born-again Christian, you can take them off the table”. Well, now that raises some interesting questions. If I can be unequally yoked with a man spiritually isn’t it possible that I can also be unequally yoked with a man naturally? In secular terminology we call it compatibility. Are you telling me  that all us church-ed sisters need to be concerned about in a potential mate is his spiritual status without regard to his emotional, mental, and  financial state? I submit that it is foolish to do so. My bible says that “a man who does not work should not eat”. (2 Thessalonians, 3;10, NKJV). I interpret this to mean that a man’s propensity or motivation to secure gainful employment is just as important a consideration as his relationship with God. Also, lets not forget about factors such as educational attainment, income level, economic stability, financial independence, socio-economic status, race, culture, shared interests, similar values, etc…which weigh heavily in one’s choice of a future spouse or partner. Would the church have us believe that none of these other things matter as long as we have Christ?

I find the “all we need is Christ” doctrine dangerous and think it does a major disservice to women of color and of faith since we have to negotiate most or all of these factors in our romantic relationships. This “all we need is Christ” doctrine also fails to acknowledge that such factors make us appear all the more or less attractive as possible marriage spouses. So, just because I might not regard race, cultural, or socio-economic differences as reasons not to date and/or marry someone in my church, does not mean someone else may not. And to illustrate my point, I’d like to share a story with you. During the spring of 2005 I was serving as a youth leader for my church youth group. It was my second year as a youth leader and I was absolutely loving it. One night after youth service when all the kids had been dismissed, we youth leaders were lounging in the café area having a lively discussion about relationships, dating, and marriage partners. A lot of people were talking about what they imagine their wedding day and/or partner might possibly be like. Suddenly, out of the blue, one of the white male youth leaders blurted out he would never marry a black or Italian woman b/c as he put it “I simply do not find them attractive”.

I felt stung and mortally offended. It was as if someone had literally stuck or stabbed me in the back with a knife. As a black woman of course his comment cut me deep but perhaps what was even more hurtful to me was that he had also offended a very good friend of mine who happened to be born and raised Italian and also a youth leader as well. My initial reaction was so quick. How can you say that? You don’t know who you will marry!  I had always been taught that we don’t regard the flesh as Christians and it doesn’t matter what package the person comes in as long as they are the right person God intended for you to be with its all good. In utter shock and disbelief I protested vehemently along with several other women of color youth leaders and my Italian friend but to no avail.  This youth leader proceeded to defend his racist statement to the ground. The intense anger I felt swelled. What if there had still been teens, especially black teen girls in the building who heard what he had said? How can he stand in front of a group of racially diverse teens every week and beckon them to enter into a deeply intimate and spiritual place in worship and harbor such racist feelings towards black and Italian women?

At the risk of not causing more strife among the youth staff I kept quiet about the incident but I’ve never forgotten it to this day. Sometimes, I wonder if the youth pastors deserved to know what kind of person they had serving on their staff but I digress. I share this story to show the flaws with the “Christ is all we need” doctrine when it comes to relationships. Obviously, racism exists in the church despite the doctrine and rhetoric about there being no “Jew or Greek” and sadly that extends to romantic relationships too. Perhaps, that explains why over the last nine years the last 11 weddings I’ve attended at my church have only been for young white couples in their early to mid 20’s. So as much the church would like us sisters to believe that white or rainbow man sitting on the pew next to us could be “the One”  there might be ghostly matters of race, culture, and ethnicity lurking in the back of his mind that need to be addressed publicly and honestly.

In the end we educated/professional women of color and of faith are juggling our Christianity with our race, class, and gender, which is quite a balancing act. To assume that shared faith in Christ trumps all these identity markers is foolish, unrealistic, and insulating in many ways. We need partners Christian or no Christian who are willing to negotiate these issues with us and unfortunately I have not met any men in church that can do this. So, despite your protests I’m not  “taking anyone of the table”. Sorry Pastor.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Alicia Keys, Chad Michael Murray, and Un-Thinkable

When Alicia Keys released her new music video “Un-Thinkable”  last month I felt haunted by it. I say haunted because it stayed with me for days on end and no matter what I did, I could not shake the image of Keys and Murray as star-crossed lovers fighting against racial, familial, and societal norms throughout the decades all the way up to present day. I think “Un-Thinkable” really struck a chord with me because it is the perfect backdrop against popular conversation regarding black women expanding their options to dating out, even if that means dating white, but also because it dovetails so nicely with my research interests in chatting with professional women of color about dating, love, and relationships, or lack thereof.

On another note, (pun intended), I was also deeply moved on an emotional level as well. As a singer myself I have a deep appreciation for the lyrical quality and melodic nature of the song, but also for the way Ms. Keys used it to tell a story and highlight a complex social issue. I gained a new found respect for her talent as a artist and actress and for that of Mr. Chad Michael Murray, whom prior to the Alicia Keys video I had not seen in anything yet but really liked and appreciated in this role.

I was completely blown away by the intensity, passion, and tension conveyed between Keys and Murray in just a single glance, in their facial expressions, and their body language. At times, the chemistry between them was so palatable that I couldn’t even hardly stand it. However, I think for me the moment of truth was after the fight scene between Murray and Keys’ brother, when Murray yells “What am I not good enough?” while Keys is pulled away by her friends, clearly heartbroken and devastated as indicated by the look on her face.

That one statement alone is laced with so many racial undertones–charged meanings. In one fell swoop “Un-Thinkable” cuts to the heart of the issue and calls into question why black women/white male interracial unions have always been such a volatile issue. It hearkens back to the 1967 Loving vs. Virgina Case which outlawed miscegenation in this country, making it 100% legal for interracial couples everywhere to get married.

The video also raises the issue of racism as so clearly depicted in scenes where Keys and Murray are eying each other from the other side grocery aisle while a white female cashier and white male customer look on unapprovingly in utter shock and disbelief.  They are obviously uncomfortable with the exchange passing between Keys and Murray, a fact that is still of concern to white society and a sore spot in the black community too.

“Un-Thinkable” manages to deal with conflicts surrounding black women and white men unions sensitively but also truthfully. Just as the white store clerk and customer are not pleased by Keys and Murray romantic overtures neither is Keys’ brother pleased either. This not an issue many of us like to discuss in the black community but it is out there and it affects the dating options and choices that women of color have for themselves.

Call it a stigma, a double standard if you will but all I am saying is nobody yells when men of color exercise their options but then there is some code that requires women of color to be “loyal to their men”. This whole notion of an “IBM”, the ideal black man (or any other man of color) is especially limiting for us sisters who desire relationships but do not traffic in spaces where there are lots of men of color to pick and choose from liberally. Not to mention we have to question what makes a man of any race “good”? Isn’t that what Murray was alluding to when he asks “I am not good enough”?

In other wards the underlying message is “yeah, you’re not good enough because you are not black”. I’m inclined to believe that romantic compatibility is not based on race.  I am not saying race doesn’t matter. I am saying that race is something that has to be negotiated in interracial relationships which might be a little tricky but not impossible. It’s not unthinkable. As single successful sisters we are at a critical juncture in our personal and professional lives. We are on the move, earning our degrees, and moving into high places of power. It’s about time for us to let go of these notions that dating outside our race is unthinkable. Instead we ought to move toward relationships where there is reciprocity, and finding partners who are both good to us and good for us, whatever race they may be.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Go West Young (Wo)Man!

It’s funny how things happen but when all the signs point go west young woman it seems that you have no other choice. Two years ago, when I ventured into the challenging foray of race relations, dating, and relationships I didn’t think anybody but my sister girlfriends were talking about it. It refers to being single, financially secure and/or independent, professional women of color. A slight mention here and there in the scholarly literature about balancing family and work obligations but nothing substantial on the romantic experiences of professional women of color. Yet, in popular culture the evidence was everywhere, a conversation was being had in regard to professional women of color seeking or looking for suitable romantic partners. First, it was the movie “Something New” with Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker which caught my attention–in which Lathan plays a successful yet single corporate attorney who is torn as to whether to explore a relationship with a white landscape architect played by Baker’s character. Then anchor and journalist Soledad O’Brien came along with her “Black in America” series and literally blew the roof off this issue in her segment entitled the Black Woman and Family. In this documentary O’Brien profiles black men and women dialoguing with respect to intersections of race, class, and gender as it relates to dating/marriage. She talks to black women including the editor-in-chief of Essence Magazine about the difficulties black women face in their social and dating life…..and the beat goes on. Most recently, law professor turned writer Karyn Langhorne Falon wrote a book called Don’t Bring Home A White Boy and Other Notions that Keep Black Women From Dating Out, in which she discusses the stigma attached to black/white unions between black females and white males which prevent black women from dating outside of the race. And just last month R&B songstress Alicia Keys premiered her music video “Unthinkable” which traces an interracial black/white couple throughout several decades til present day. Keys and Chad Michael Murray of “One Tree Hill” fame play star-crossed lovers forced to deal with racial tensions and familial opposition to their love. The message: yes things have changed but sadly things haven’t changed that much. Interracial dating is not a new phenomenon, nor does it come as a surprise that black men/white women pairings are much more common than black women/white men ones. Perhaps what is surprising is how popular culture and social media have managed to crack this topic wide open in a big way. As I troll the internet reading blogs it seems like the number one question on everyone’s one’s mind including my own is why are so many successful sisters single?

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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