Do Black Men Really Want “Self-Improvement”?

When it comes to dating and mating, "self-improvement" isn't quite what it seems to many Black men

                              It sounds good, doesn’t it? But is it what Black men REALLY want?

“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
-Sir Winston Churchill

In my previous column, “My Tinder Experiment & Its Discontents” (Oct 6, 2020), I explored several popular conventions widely held in Black American social media circles and found both severely wanting; but it was the totally unexpected reactions on the part of both Black women and Black men, that took me by surprise. Contrary to what I had erroneously believed, Black women were quite lucid and mature about my findings; while Black men were apoplectic in a way that went far beyond the pale.

However, upon further reflection, I had to confess that this wasn’t the first time that Black men on social media would express such a reaction; two years ago when I decided to change up my own look, Black women suddently got oddly silent (and have been ever since), while Black men online have done nothing but deride me. And all while extolling the virtues of “self-improvement”, don’t you know.

What gives?

I think I have the answer. Read on!

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THE SELF-IMPROVEMENT TRAP
The common conceit that is envogue among the growing dating coaching business for and by Black men, is that the key to it all is “self-improvement” – is which is broadly meant that a Black man should strive to work on and better himself, almost always along aesthetic and monetary lines (very little is mentioned about improving one’s mind and to be fair, for good reason – because by and large, Black women don’t find such things in and of themselves – if at all – to be attractive. But that’s another topic for another column.), and those who even question the notion are accused of being a hater, a whiner and a loser.

Of course, such simplistic bromides cannot stand in the face of even a modicum of practical experience, to say nothing of scientific evidence. Indeed, the excellent book, “Why Women Have Sex”, written by evolutionary psychologists David M. Buss and Cindy Meston (the latter of whom was taught by the former, in fact), cites well over ONE HUNDRED SCIENTIFICALLY DOCUMENTED REASONS as to why women have sex alone – and that’s only ONE part of the dating and mating dance(!). To say that looking your best and having a bit of coin in your pocket is a given; but the scientific evidence is quite conclusive that such things are hardly decisive, since women can and will mate with men for a myriad of reasons – often those beyond a man’s control.

Moreover, within the context of contemporary Black American society, it is well documented that Black women can and will “move the goalposts” whenever they can and whenever it suits them to do so; “self-improvement” then can be a futile, never ending exercise in “busy makework”, attempting to find the “move” that does the “trick” with Black women at large. For example: How many “Non-Select” Black guys have terrible records with the ladies IN Black America, but do just fine with the ladies OUTSIDE of it? What has fundamentally changed about these men? They look, sound, smell the same; they make the same amount of money. The only thing that changed was the women they pursued – which was Black and “ADOS” American. When they changed their focus, they got different results.

So much for the one size fits all “self-improvement” mantra.

Hence, one of the major problems I have with the burgeoning dating coaching business for Black men – it’s simplistic, sophomoric approach and “simple answers” to problems that are just a weebit more complex than any of us and especially the aforementioned (bad) actors – are willing to admit. It is entirely possible to be devoted to improving oneself personally, while still considering all of the other moving parts on the chessboard, too.

There IS room for both, and in MY dojo, we Obsidians understand this.

SHAMELESS PLUG AD BREAK: Like what you’re reading now? Wait till you see my very first book, “The Book of Obsidian: A Manual for the 21st Century Black American Gentleman”! Here’s YOUR chance to help me bring the dream to life, by supporting “The Book of Obsidian Fundraising Campaign”! All the details are over at GoGetFunding.com. Now, back to the article!

CALLING THE BROTHAHOOD’S BLUFF
But there’s yet another reason why so many Black men online do the mindless “self-improvement” chant, I suspect – and that’s because I think it serves as a kind of cudgel to beat on the Non-Select Guys. As I’ve said before (“The Non-Select Guy’s Burden”, Jul 28, 2020, Negromanosphere.com), the current day social order in Black America along dating and mating lines is such that both many Black women and a not insignificant number of Black men NEED AND DEPEND ON NON-SELECT GUYS TO PLAY THEIR “ASSIGNED ROLE” as “clean up men” – the guys Black women “settle for” when they’ve been rode hard and put out wet by Select Fuckboys of varying stripe. The assumption is that the NSGs will simply, meekly, accept their lot in life and “get in where they fit in”.

But, what if they don’t?

What if they begin to question things?

What if they call everyone’s “self-improvement” bluff?

Being an eternally curious sort ever since I was a child, I decided to put it all to the acid test – using myself as the lab rat. I set out to see, exactly what would happen if I actually did what so many online clamored on about – but with a sly twist, which I will be discussing in a future column. First, it came with going from camp shirts and chinos to tailored three piece suits; now it was going from being a keyboard jockey to a crossfit training, kettlebell lifting, yoga doing guy.

Now what?

Well, it didn’t take long.

When before I was excoriated for actually looking like a grown-assed man instead of a Peter Pan man-boy, I was now assailed for being a “flip-flopper” for attempting to get back in shape – keep in mind as well, that I had actually done MORE along “self-improvement” lines at this point, than my loudest and most ardent critics(!). And instead of giving me credit for moving things forward, I was met with nothing but scorn – from Black men, now – not Black women, who have remained silent. It all makes one wonder, doesn’t it?

So much for “self-improvement” huh?

SHAMELESS PLUG AD BREAK: Like what you’re reading now? Wait till you see my very first book, “The Book of Obsidian: A Manual for the 21st Century Black American Gentleman”! Here’s YOUR chance to help me bring the dream to life, by supporting “The Book of Obsidian Fundraising Campaign”! All the details are over at GoGetFunding.com. Now, back to the article!

AN IRONIC TWIST, INDEED
Keen observers of social media and celebrity gossip news will recall well the adverse reaction actress and comedianne Mo’Nique received from Black women at large for daring to lose 100 pounds(!) some years back (“Monique Weight Loss: Shocking Facts Revealed Inside! [2020]”, WatchOTC.com); more recently, singer Jazmine Sullivan received similar treatment from Black women for dropping a considerable amount of weight in an effort to show solidarity with her mother, who is battling cancer (“Jazmine Sullivan Hits Back At Critics Of Weight Loss”, Oct 3, 2020, BET.com).

While it would be easy to chalk such instances up to the usual Black female cattiness, what my own personal experiences along similar lines tells me, is that such things are in no way unique to Black women at all.

What this all tells me is that Black American culture at large – emcompassing men and women alike – is deeply afraid of CHANGE. And for the purposes of today’s discussion, when you change what you expect of yourself, it can and will frighten people, in this case, other Black men – because what you are doing represents what they are NOT doing, COULD be doing, SHOULD be doing – but are not. Being willing to change means being brave. And sadly, there are quite a few Black men who are a far sight from that.

In a future column, we will discuss more about what exactly “self-improvement” really means – and what looks like on a Gentlemen of Obsidian.

Now adjourn your asses…

MOA

Mumia Obsidian Ali is a citizen journalist, podcaster, talk radio show host, newly minted dating coach and soon to be author. You can catch his daily live shows on the global livestreaming radio website Mixlr, as well as the all-new members-only Obsidian Radio Zoomcast, and his podcasts on YouTube and Black Avenger TV, as well as his weekly dating coach column at the Negromanosphere website. He’s also a semi-professional pest.

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