Written by Nicole
Featured image photo credit: Brandon Frankel
Gabourey Sidibe announced her engagement to her now fiancé Brandon Frankel this past week, and social media has lit up with congratulations for the happy couple. I am happy for them and wish them nothing but the best in their future together.
However, as with any happy news, and social media being what it is, there were several detractors that saw fit to poo-poo this moment. There are two distinct camps that were somewhat vocal on this news – Black men and black women. I will only briefly touch on black men’s reaction, because they typically react the same to this kind of news. The main focus of this will be how black women reacted, and what could be learned.
As expected, the demographic of men least likely to be checking for a woman of Gabby’s archetype, had the most to say. It is the common trope of “I don’t want you, but I don’t want anyone else to want you either”.
All of a sudden, black men find value in her, because a white man put a ring on it. Remember that shirt that went viral last year about wanting the black woman the white man gets? This is the same thing. Black men seem to only be stirred to action if white men gave the go-ahead, whether directly or indirectly. This is just a different flavor of the “white people do it too” refrain.
But, like I said, their reaction is not that surprising. Black women, on the other hand, have had a few:
Because men are, well, men, they should absolutely be viewed with an abundance of caution with a healthy side of side-eyes.
But what is interesting is how much side-eye Brandon is getting from black women in particular. All of a sudden, there is this great concern about his financial standing, his intentions, the presence of a pre-nuptial agreement, the ever-present “fetish” concern, and a barrage of other reasons for apprehension. And don’t get me wrong, these concerns are valid (mostly). However, black women have all but transfigured into full-fledged investigative reporters upon news of Gabby and Brandon’s upcoming nuptials.
This level of discernment is never applied to potential black grooms-to-be though. Amber Riley recently announced her engagement (to a black man), and it’s pretty much congrats across the board. It seems that because Brandon is not black, he should be vetted more heavily. In a way, this shows that black women ARE capable of discernment. Take for instance, the many comments declaring that Gabby needs a pre-nup.
What is interesting is that I never see the demand for such agreements when it is a black couple. Wendy Williams and Mary J. Blige come to mind. Funny how the same people who scream marriage is just a piece of paper, want to make sure that a couple who has nothing to do with them, gets a second piece of paper on top of the first one. Crazy, right?
Black women DO know the pitfalls and concerns of a new relationship. And black women, do, in fact, know what “hypergamy” is, maybe not in name, but certainly in deed. The abundance of caution just happens to fluctuate depending on melanin content.
Imagine if even a fraction of the concern black women have about Gabby’s relationship was expended in the relationships of us regular folks. Black women DO know the characteristics of a good partner, but those characteristics seemingly only apply to Brad, Benito, and Botan. Black women seemingly require more from nonblack men, and demands more accountability from them, over the very sons she and her sisters birth.
Women asking this, do you hear yourself? You mean the same demographic of men that made “Precious” synonymous with obese black women? The same ones who mocked her mercilessly, and continue to do so? Who, to this day, use her as a punchline? To a woman who has bothered literally no one???
Black men on Gabourey’s level are few and far between. And as we know, high, rich melanin content is only valued on the men. So Gabby, being dark-skinned, is unlikely to be checked for by black men of a similar standing. Why should she limit her options for a Black Love fairytale that, quite frankly, is unlikely to manifest?
We should expect black men to tear at black women. Old news. But black women joined in the pile on, with thoughts like. “and I can’t even get a text back”. Are you serious? Perhaps your inability to “get a text back” hinges on that sour personality you are nursing.
All in all, I am happy for Gabby and Brandon. I wish them both well and that their marriage is full of success. Black women with all features, including features not typically valued, not only deserve to be loved, but deserved to be loved publicly. Even if others don’t agree.
Disclaimer: This blog was written by me, Nicole, and my ideas are not necessarily reflective of Christelyn Karazin or other writers on this platform.