Why Are So Many Black Women Single, Part 1
So I’m listening to one of the countless personality-driven morning radio shows on my way from (that’s from, not to) work recently when the subject matter worked itself around to the issue of black women. In particular, the issue was why so many accomplished—or even semi-accomplished—African-American women were single? By many of the most recent estimates, between 60-70% of black women are single, by design or destiny, single (“High-Achieving Black Women and Marriage: Not Choosing or Not Chosen?" and “Singled Out” ). For the most part, the assumption is that they cannot simply “find a good man.”
First, let me warn you that I am a proud male chauvinist. On a general level, I believe that males are and should be the traditional head of the family and home, with wife serving as counsel (working on the assumption that he has his family’s, and not his own interests at heart). As a pragmatic rather than emotional decision-maker (again, working on positive assumptions), his should be the final word insofar as what is in the family’s interests. As a matter of historical reality, families were simply more functional under this particular dynamic. On a personal level, most of the things women want to talk about and/or discuss bores me, while things I want to talk about tends to “offend” them. So on the strength of that bit of reality alone, I concede that we’re simply not going to agree on this issue…we’re just not (however, I will endeavor to supply statistics and sources whenever applicable or possible, in an effort to limit the amount of eye-rolling and teeth-sucking many of you will undoubtedly engage in as you read ahead with a closed-mind).
For the most part, so many black women remain single because most parties involved either cannot or refuse to see the true nature of the issue: both black men and women bear responsibility as well as society as a whole.
For African-American men, the direct contribution is the lack of personal responsibility, a point which encompasses more than what’s implicit in a simple statement. The lack of personal responsibility entails many different counter-productive attitudes, practices, and beliefs which enough black men exhibit to place the entire demographic into a state of crisis. We’ve all seen, read about, or personally know the dismal statistics: the unprecedented and shocking percentages of black males who are a part of the criminal justice system, who have multiple “baby mamas,” who are not involved in or pursue an education at levels comparable to their black female counterparts, or who are victimizing themselves through acts of black-on-black crime with seeming reckless abandon. All told, the low and dysfunctional levels of education, the casual attitude toward having (felony) criminal records, routine recreational drug use, and overly misguided-attitudes toward sexual promiscuity among many black males all directly contribute to their being eliminated from the shrinking pool of suitable mates for black women. As an indirect consequence and illustration, the employment rate for African-American males as a whole is currently at a record low 56.9% (“Employment Rate for Black Men at Record Low,”). With so few holding full time and/or gainful employment, many cannot simply bring anything to the table with regards to being a potential mate (this is however, not meant to imply that the behavior of black males alone is the cause of high unemployment among this demographic. Even among those who do not engage in criminal activity, having completed their educations, or who have productive mindsets, obtaining a job can be every bit as daunting [due to bias] as trying to catch a taxi in a large city…especially with so many once male-dominated jobs having been lost due to the recent economic downturn).
Even among upwardly mobile black males, including college graduates, political and sports figures, and self-made entrepreneurs, there is a level of thinking which embraces a warped sense of responsibility with regards to self-perceptions of manhood. Characterized by promiscuity, hyper-competitiveness, and self-centeredness, these relatively successful black males know that they are among the most (materially) sough-after and desired by black women, so they adopt a somewhat similarly casual approach toward relationships…but without the live-for-today abandon of their urban-mindset male counterparts. Instead, there is a selfish withdrawal from community and familial responsibility that one would almost come to expect from black males seeking to grasp hold of long-term stability and material security. Nowhere near as many are involved with youth mentoring, community/civic activism, or even a local house of worship or religious group as should be, given their obvious socioeconomic ambitions. And for some of these black males, the option of non-black women is preferable to dealing with the drama” of “angry black women” that black male indifference helped to create. According to a 2008 survey performed by the Pew Research Center, more than twice as many black men married someone of another ethnicity as black women—some 22% compared to 8.9%.
But this negative casual mindset—casual sex, casual illegal drug use, and the casual attitude towards life—is not confined to the “ghetto” subculture. Even among some materially successful black males, counter-productive attitudes and belief systems glorify a distorted view of masculinity and/or a criminal mindset, most widely understood as a “thug mentality.” Rappers and other entertainers not only portray this negative imagery through their music and associated music videos, but even go so far as to promote themselves through their self-owned companies and record labels with names like Death Row Records and Murder, Inc.. And with many young (and in some cases, older) African-American women attracted to the trappings—both tangible and intangible—of this hyper-macho and negative image of the black male, what man can or even wants to consider such an image-driven black woman as a serious potential life partner? Under such a distorted regime, black males can afford to love-‘em-and-leave-‘em—babies and all—repeatedly. If this isn’t true, then why are upwards of 70% of black children born to single mothers (“Black Struggle with 72 Percent Un-Wed Mother Rate.” and “Too Long Ignored”?)
The result for the black community is one of astonishing socio-economic pathologies. In addition to the 70% of black women who remain single, and the 72% of children born to single parents, African-Americans have the lowest marriage rate of any ethnic group in America. According to information supplied by the 2010 U.S. Census, some 41.9% of black women and 43.3% of black men have never been married. Taken together with the divorce rate and unavailability of what could be considered “marriage material” men, it’s easy to understand why so many black women remain not just unmarried, but single. But the black woman herself has just as much complicity in her own lack of [a] stable relationship.
While black men were engaging in unproductive, chest-beating Alpha Male behavior, African-American women became more susceptible to mainstream feminist ideology, for better or worse. The more positive of these of these beliefs gave black women the motivation to compete socially, politically, and ultimately economically with their black male counterparts. Coming on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement, the feminist movement resulted in the exposing and shunning of those individuals and institutions practicing gender bias, and allowed black women to enroll in schools, enter the job market and ultimately gain economic power. And in some areas such as education, eventually surpassing the lagging black male (National Center For Educational Statistics. But along with this progress has come an attitude of entitlement possessed by many successful black women which doesn’t reflect the reality with the black community. Now admittedly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having high personal standards, but (again, we’re not going to agree so please save the out-of-hand disagreements) exceedingly high standards which don’t conform to the reality or the numbers are simply the delusions of fantasy or romance novels. But the problem is, simply put, that success has gone to the heads of many black women, most of whom do not realize that they owe their career success in part to the bias some “good” (a relative term to be sure) black men face when it comes to seeking employment, walking through a store without being tailed by loss reduction personnel, or even just staying out of the criminal justice system on a daily basis.
Many have formulated mindsets which are as every bit as counter-productive as those which black males possess, which prevent fomenting solid relationships. And despite their protestations against being single, most find themselves so by virtue of having the following mindsets:
Yes, I know black women are going to deny this one, but ask nearly every black male and you will hear this as a common complaint. While it’s true that black women have a right to be angry given how many have concluded that the black man has not done what he’s supposed to do in order to secure his own happiness and that of the black family, but as the saying goes, Two wrongs don’t make a right. Black women are angry because highly successful black men such as athletes, CEOs, lawyers, and others with socially prestigious positions are opting to choose a wife of another ethnicity. They’re angry because black men don’t worship the Church of Tyler Perry and his black male off-putting productions. And because smart black men don’t want to spend hard-earned money to see his latest take on how black men are unrepentant monsters who subjugate black woman at every turn…which he disguises as well-intentioned “interpretations” of “black male-female relationships.” They’re angry because black men are not considering an education as a way toward personal uplift at the same levels black women do. Ok. But exactly how is being a bitch and copping an attitude going to change that bit of reality? Yes, its understood that many black women wear the title of bitch with a perverse sense of honor, as it symbolizes that they’re not willing to be taken for granted or walked over by men. But most of these same women have confused being needlessly attitudinal with “being assertive,” and they are not one in the same. Being assertive is defending one’s position verbally by way of stating a counter-position, a conclusion based on reason and contributing intelligently to a conversation. Being needlessly attitudinal and mouthy is speaking out of emotion…responding to everything someone says that’s not liked simply because one has a mouth and a protected freedom of speech. The type black woman who feels that she can say what she wants and tells a man that she’s the one who will be running things because she is accomplished and “doesn’t need a man,” is the type of woman who should expect to be single.
If Simply put, men want someone who is nice to them. No one wants to hear about their faults 24/7. And they don’t want to hear about a woman’s accomplishments, ad nauseum.
They’re Every Bit as Shallow as Men
…the only difference is that black women are far better at framing their prejudices as “preferences.” I’ve lost track of how many women have asked me, “How tall are you?” Others simply come out and tell you that they “Want a tall man…at least 6ft.” Now for the record, I am exactly 6ft tall, but a height requirement is an insane requisite for a mate. To be blunt, if all black men opted for a weight requirement, many black women would fail to meet that requirement. People who live in glass houses…
If you ask black men who similarly complain about not being able to find a suitable female mate, most would say that black women have impossible standards, although many black women would deny this. The funny thing though is that the reality of their singlehood does not bear this out. Whether exceedingly successful or not, most black women all want the same man…tall, dark, educated, articulate accomplished, fatherless (although to their credit, many black women have overlooked the latter requirement; finding a childless single male of a marriageable age is a tall order), with just a hint of “thug in him” (read: street smart). Furthermore, he needs to be a beast in bed, willing to engage her sense of romance (or fantasy), listen to her intensively, share an interest in her interests, love her friends, bend steel with his bare hands, walk on water, leap tall buildings in a single bound, and possess a rapper’s “swagger” about him (that’s street-level “charisma” for the uninitiated). Simply put, black women want too much.
Not only have black women convinced themselves that this archetype black male is not some romanticized figment of their imaginations—that he in fact exist—but have managed to keep company with those friends and acquaintances who have convinced them that what they ask for is not too much. These are the character traits of a reluctant serial dater, not a potential wife or a steady long-term mate.
The bottom line is the only true measure of a potential mate is character.
Many black women like to claim that I don’t want/like thugs when it comes to choosing a potential mate, but that is not what the numbers or the personal experiences of many black men bare out.