Longtime Newsweek writer, Ellis Cose might just have stepped in a big old pile of doo-doo. Finally, an educated BLACK MAN has joined the chorus with Ralph Richard Banks (Is Marriage for White People?) to call it how he sees it. In his piece, “The Black Gender Gap,” Cose reports that black women are outperforming black men in both education and the workplace. And while men like Tyler Perry and Steve Harvey are writing books and producing movies to continue to brainwash highly educated and career-oriented black women to give their plumbers, gardeners and the ex-con at the corner a chance, the din of the zombie mantra, “lower your standards” is slowly quieting, as more and more black women consider what once seemed impossible, improbable and unfathomable. In short, the success of the black woman and the lack of it from the black man has brought up a serious dilemma–is it time for black women as a collective to give ALL races of men a chance?
But that quest brings with it a host of questions–some whispered, some loudly (even anxiously) debated. Is this new black woman finally crashing through the double ceiling of race and gender? Or is she leaping into treacherous waters that will leave her stranded, unfulfilled, childless and alone? Can she thrive if her brother does not, if the black man succumbs, as hundreds of thousands already have, to the hopelessness of prison and the streets? Can she–dare she–thrive without the black man, finding happiness across the racial aisle? Or will she, out of compassion, loneliness or racial loyalty “settle” for men who–educationally, economically, professionally–are several steps beneath her?
Let’s examine this quote, shall we? Cose asks the question, “Can [the black woman] thrive if her brother does not?” HAYELL YESS!!! Black women have been and continue to be asked (no; nearly forced) to be the mules of the race–to sacrifice, bear, suffer long, be patient, give, give some more, bear some more, accept, and deny for…oh…two centuries!! Are we never to know even a slip of happiness? Are we never to be allowed to be loved and cherished by a man on of our same station? Will the betterment of “the race” always, ALWAYS trump the peace, happiness and well-being of the individual?
I say all this not encourage black women to abdicate their blackness. To do so would be impossible. Just because you open your dating options to ALL races of men, doesn’t mean you somehow become less black. You will, and always will be BLACK. But your blackness should not be your yoke and your chain, attached to an increasing parasitic community that takes more than it gives. If you are shackled, consider yourself a freewoman. Today is Juneteenth.
And if you are the successful woman like Mr. Cose describes and you’re still getting flack from black men and women who want you to command you to to sacrifice, bear, suffer long, be patient, give, give some more, bear some more, accept, and deny, I want you to stop and consider what might be the motives of such an individual, knowing full well, like you, that the sky is blue, all while they continue to insist it is brown with silver sparkles.
Twenty-five percent of young black males go to college; 35 percent of women do. Only 13.5 percent of young black females are high-school dropouts; more than 17 percent of young black men are. The notion that college was a place to find a man has slowly given way to the conviction that decent, educated black men are rarer, to borrow Shakespeare’s words, than pearls in beauteous ladies’ eyes.
Underappreciated by black men, many black women are looking elsewhere. Connie Rice, a Los Angeles civil-rights attorney and Radcliffe graduate, puts it plainly: “If you have to have the same race, your choices are limited.” For years, there has been a general assumption that while black men were comfortable dating white women, black women (for many reasons, some having to do with exploitation dating back to the time of slavery) generally steered clear of white men. Certainly, statistics show that interracial black-white unions, while relatively rare, have been much more common between black men and white women. But the marriage statistics are shifting. And if unpublished research by Tucker and her colleagues is any indication, the dating wall of Jericho is tumbling. In a survey of residents of 21 cities, Tucker & Co. found that 78 percent of black men (average age: 32) had dated interracially at least once, as had 53 percent of black women (average age: 34).