The Non-Select Guy’s Burden

Why are so many Black men fixated on other Black men's looks?

Yours truly, dining out Thanksgiving Day, 2019.

“Showoffs never show up at the showdown.”

If it’s one thing that I’ve learned and was totally unexpected from my first year as both a dating coach and author on the same topic, it would be just how much Black men themselves place such a huge emphasis of importance on another Black man’s appearance – whether or not he’s “got the look”, to quote the late great Prince Rogers Nelson. While doing research for my very first “The Book of Obsidian” which, at this time of writing have been completed (and would have been published were it not for the Coronavirus pandemic and now slated for a 2021 release), I found myself running the Black male online gauntlet of naysayers and downright meanspirited critics, and I took them all in stride as par for the course whenever you set out to do something bold, brave and completely by surprise. And, little by little, one by one, I consistenly rose to the occasion in response to my interlocutors’ challenges – including a “live fire” test of my own Game/Pickup skill last fall on a popular livestream show hosted the Negromanosphere’s editor in chief Mr. Oshay Duke Jackson (“Oshay Vlogcast Channel – Why Non Select Guys Should NEVER Use Dating APPS (Obsidian Media Network) – Oct 15, 2019 (VIDEO)”. Nevertheless, the “litmus tests” kept coming, even in the face of real time evidence that I knew my stuff – while other guys, who would be deemed, to use longtime dating coach for Black men Rom Wills’ nomenclature, “select”, get a pass. What gives?

In today’s column, I outline one of my biggest discoveries in this weird and beautiful “year one” odyssey – that it ain’t just Black women who puts being “conspicuously handsome” at the top of their list for their idea of what an Ideal Black Man looks like – but it matters to Black men, too.

Let’s get it!

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Not long after I started my podcasting career in the summer of 2015, an interesting piece appeared in Essence magazine; it was actually an interview featuring a Black female “matchmaking duo”, who confirmed what many Black men like me had long suspected: that the Black women who made media outfits like Essence a household name (read: RICH) lamenting their woes in love, were actually on the one hand curving decent, hardworking, salt of the earth guys; and on the other, holding out for the small pool of hot guys way out of their league:

“ESSENCE.COM: Do you feel Black women and men are too particular when it comes to potential dating candidates?

FISHER: We found that as opposed to the White clients that we’ve had, Black women are usually looking for physical attributes first. We look for someone who is attractive to us and then we pick up on his hobbies, interests and values. Whereas, White clients are looking for the reverse first. What kind of job does he have? Is he going to be able to provide? Then they circle back.

GILMORE: We’re the first ones to look at men’s bodies and how attractive they are whereas our White clients have a long list of requirements of things like character and integrity…

FISHER: …and, then down the line, it backfires for us because you were never a compatible mix to start with.

ESSENCE.COM: Do Black women have realistic dating pool expectations?

GILMORE: We have clients that have a long laundry list of requirements—6 foot 4, with a Ph.D., never been married, no children, in his late 30s or early 40s—and a lot of times we then ask them, well, what are you bringing to the table? And, the answer is nowhere near all that. Why would you expect someone to have more than what you’re offering?” (“Why Is It So Hard For Black Women to Find The Love They Deserve?”, Nov 5, 2015)

With smoking gun evidence from one of the single biggest media voices for Black women to come down the pike in nearly 50 years, the “debate” on what Black women wanted and who they were checking for, was a settled affair. They could no longer deny it, and in the years since, my colleagues and I in the Black Manosphere eventually forced the ladies to fess up, changing the entire parameters of what was once a grievously lopsided “nonversation”. I mean, this is supposed to be the part where they would be peace in the land and we roll the credits, right?

Wrong, LOL.

When I tossed my hat into the dating coaching arena last summer, with my tagline (or gimmick, if you prefer – hey look, every successful dating coach for men has one, right?) being, “the dating coach for the Non-Select Guy”, rooting it in the zeitgeist of the times – the “woke, social justice” notion of “lived experience” – I honestly thought that no one would care. After all, I was representing, part and parcel of that sector of guys most Black women simply couldn’t be bothered with, and I thought that no one would take notice.

As it turned out, I was half-right. After taking “Saint Kevin” Samuels, a corporate and professional image consultant’s advice and switched up my style and appearance two years ago, I noticed that the guff I got from the ladies in response to my offerings online got fewer and farther between. To be sure, no hotties were falling out of the sky onto my head; but they were no longer straight up attacking me anymore either. If you know anything about Black women, when they fall silent, that’s a tactical win.

But, as it turned out, it was only “the end of the beginning” – from then on, and we’re talking about the better part of two years now, my single biggest critics, have been hands down Black men themselves – many of whom either deem themselves as “select” – or, truth to be told, wannabe. And we’re not talking about just a healthy dose of skepticism here either, something I would welcome, in fact; we’re talking about a full-on conniption fit over the idea that a Non-Select Guy would have the audacity to actually make the case that it, if anyone should offer advice and counsel as to how to get er done out here in these dating and mating streets for the guys who are struggling a bit, it should be one of their own to do it.

You’d have thought I hopped up and bitchslapped these guys’ mama or something.

I couldn’t do an interview without “select” guys demanding to be part of the panel to “challenge” me on some arcane, obscure or just downright completely irrelevant point that wasn’t even the topic to begin with; or routine demands that I “prove myself” by passing their increasingly ridiculous “litmus tests” (all the while never demanding the same of their “select” brethren – more on that in the next section); and I’ve had to contend with other “select” guys who came at me in the form of podcasts and livestream shows of their own, attacking just about everything about me you could imagine. And when I deftly defended myself in a way that would make Obi-Wan Kenobi blush, up they come with some “new and improved” BS – it was like Select Fuckboys meets The Walking Dead, or something. At first the whole thing took me aback; but after awhile, it really got me to thinking: “Is it THAT serious?”.

Apparently, it is.

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 Now, back to the article!

What I’ve discovered is that for many Black men – more than any of us are willing to admit, mind you – “looks” matter as much to THEM as it does to Black women – possibly, in many ways, MORESO. Why, you might ask?

Well, to answer that question, we have to turn to Yale academic Elijah Anderson, best known for his groundbreaking work, “Code of the Street”. Prior to its publication in the late 1990s-early 2000s, he released an earlier work that I think greatly informed the latter, called, “Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community”. In both works, Anderson argues that the “pose”, veneer and appearance or look of a Black man is seen as hugely important to other Black men, because of their inability to display the traditional markers of American manhood, which is to have the means and resources available to support and take care of a wife and family up to a middle class or higher living standard. In response, many Black men, particularly in the inner-city context, have “adapted” to their deprivation and have devised alternate norms of (Black) manhood – rooted in being very good looking, very well dressed, having a good “mouthpiece” and being charismatic:

“The sexual conduct of poor Northton adolescents is creating growing numbers
of unwed parents. Yet many young fathers remain strongly committed to their
peer groups. They congregate on street corners, boasting about their sexual ex-
ploits and deriding conventional family life. These interconnected realities are
born of the difficult socioeconomic situation in the local community.¹ The lack
of family-sustaining jobs denies many young men the possibility of forming an
economically self-reliant family, the traditional American mark of manhood. Par-
tially in response, the young men’s peer group emphasizes sexual prowess as
proof of manhood, with babies as evidence. A sexual game emerges as girls are
lured by the (usually older) boys’ vague but convincing promises of love and
marriage. When the girls submit, they often end up pregnant and abandoned,
yet they are then eligible for a limited but steady welfare income that may allow
them to establish their own households and at times attract other men who
need money.”

Anderson continues:

“To many inner-city black male youths, the most important people in life are
members of their peer groups. They set the standards for conduct, and it is
important to live up to those standards, to look good in their eyes. The peer
group places a high value on sex, especially what middle-class people call ca-
sual sex. But though sex may be casual in terms of commitment to the partner,
it is usually taken quite seriously as a measure of the boy’s worth. Thus a pri-
mary goal of the young man is to find as many willing females as possible. The
more “pussy” he gets, the more esteem accrues to him. But the young man not
only must “get some,” he must prove he is getting it. Consequently he usually
talks about girls and sex with any other young man who will listen. Because of
the implications sex has for their local social status and esteem, the young men
are ready to be regaled with graphic tales of one another’s sexual exploits.”


“The young men describe their successful campaigns as “getting over” young
women’s sexual defenses. To get over, the young man must devise a “game,”
whose success is gauged by its acceptance by his peers and especially by
women. Relying heavily on gaining the girl’s confidence, the game consists of
the boy’s full presentation of self, including his dress, grooming, looks, dancing
ability, and conversation, or “rap.””

And finally:

“The rap is the verbal element of the game, whose object is to inspire sexual
interest. It embodies the whole person and is thus extremely important to suc-
cess. Among peer-group members, raps are assessed, evaluated, and divided
into weak and strong. The assessment of the young man’s rap is, in effect, the
evaluation of his whole game. Convincing proof of effectiveness is the “booty”:
the amount of sex the young man appears to be getting. Young men who are
known to fail with women often face ridicule from the group, having their raps
labeled “tissue paper,” their games seen as inferior, and their identities deval-
ued.” (pp. 175-180)

As you can clearly see, these themes continue to roll along THIRTY YEARS LATER among solidly middle class Black men, which raises the question as to Anderson’s utility in the discussion: “Well, Anderson was talking about poor, ghetto youths in the 1990s; what does that have to do with successful Black men today?”. The problem with the question is that one, “see above”; and two, that perhaps not as many Black men are doing as well as we might think.

As Dr. Jordan Peterson noted in one of his many interviews with Joe Rogan, the way men compete to determine who is who in the status hierarchy, is on the basis of COMPETENCE – who is good at what, who is better at what – and to the better men go the spoils. Peterson goes on to argue, that from an evolutionary standpoint, the women who selected the men who emerged the victor in these “competence contests”, had a better chance of putting their genes into the future than by mating with men who were, for all intents, the losers of such competitions (“Joe Rogan – Jordan Peterson Clarifies His Incels Comment”, YouTube, Jul 2, 2018). For his part, Brett McKay, host of the insanely popular “Art of Manliness” podcast, argues that these contests among and between men MUST BE PUBLIC. This is vital, not only so that all other men know “who is who”, but also because WOMEN CAN PUBLICLY EVALUATE WHO THE MOST COMPETENT MEN ARE (“The 3 P’s of Manhood: A Review”, Apr 29, 2020).

However, because of the historic deprivation of Black men overall, the above “normal rules” are subverted, and “Bizarro Black American rules” kick in – where the contests are NOT based on competence, but rather the aforementioned traits and metrics Anderson outlines above: “his dress, grooming, looks, dancing
ability, and conversation, or “rap”.

THIS is the reason why my mere presence in the whole thing is not only so jarring to other Black men who deem themselves “select” online, but is downright THREATENING: Because I have proven myself to be quite competent across a number of domains, including writing, podcasting and now, being a dating coach for a segment of Black American men who until very recently, have never really had a real and legitimate, media voice – and what happens if said guys got just a little help – guys like me? What would that mean for the “contests among Black men” insofar as dating and mating is concerned?

Black women have never really had a choice, as Anderson makes clear above. They’ve had to choose from among the Black men that were available to them – the supposedly “select” ones. But, for a number of reasons, the “non-select” ones have been MIA. With social media now fueling the rank and file “everyday brotha” and amplifying his voice, and being assisted by others who can help him when and where it’s needed, the “contest among Black men” can now occur on a truly level playing field. The “select guys” have never really been tested in real time; never had to “put it on the wood”, so to speak; and I think this is what my interlocutors are fearing: My presence is the handwriting on the wall that a “new world order” is upon us.

And, if I may be so bold as to say so, I think this accounts for so many Black women being silent since my own transformation nearly two years ago; they’re rethinking everything they thought they knew about this dating and mating thing. Now, they may indeed be loathe to admit because let’s face it, Black women have painted themselves into a corner; but that’s a subject for another column.

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 Now, back to the article!

I’ve long held the view that while the “Select Guy”‘s strength is all sizzle and no steak, the “Non-Select Guy” shines at having some serious depth. But, because Black American society overall is so fixated on the shallow and superficial, it is very difficult for the NSG to display his competence in a way that Black women will recognize and appreciate. This is where yours truly comes in – by helping guys like me find their niche and display it confidently and boldly, it gives not only themselves a real fighting chance in the competition for mates that always occurs among (Black) men, it also gives Black women a real choice – in the case of many of them, perhaps for the first time in their entire lives(!) – and that, in itself, is a good thing, because as we learn from economists and Wall Street, competition is always good for the marketplace.

This is the reason why I counsel the guys in my dojo NOT to engage in things that are the natural ballywick of the Select Guys – like dating apps or online dating. Studies have consistently shown that such devices and methods are heavily visually skewed, AND short term mating oriented – meaning, that a Non-Select Guy wouldn’t have the time to talk to a Black woman using those mediums to “show what he’s got”. Such things are inherently designed AGAINST the skillset an NSG would bring to the table. Hence, I counsel my guys to develop a social life – to get out and about and meet as many people, and that would include Black women, as possible.

Since my “dating system” is largely modeled on myself (and I make no apology for it), let’s use me for the guinea pig here. Now, I have a very broad skillset in a number of areas, including the aforementioned podcasting, live talk radio hosting, writing, public speaking and so on; but there’s also my “previous life” as a skilled trades unionist. I’ve studied various forms of martial arts over the course of my life. I’m a voracious reader, having been told that I’m also better read than many college educated Black men many Black women know. I’m funny, interesting and have been told by other ladies that AFTER THEY GOT TO KNOW ME, either from observation or direct conversation, that they found that I have depth. And that’s just for starters.

Now, to look at me, you simply wouldn’t assume any of that about me, would you? In fact, that’s the gift AND the curse insofar as Black American society is concerned – because to unassuming means to always have to prove yourself to Black women AND Black men alike. Yea, that sucks – because, let’s face it, the Select Guys are gonna be given a pass simply because “they look the part”. Meanwhile, we NSGs have to toil to show ourselves approved.

But, since this is my way of doing things, I happen to LOVE adversity and challenge; I see them as grand opportunities to rise to the occasion and to shutdown the disbelievers. And you should, too – you’ve seen what I’ve done with the ladies.

The Select Guys are next.

It’s only a matter of time.

Now adjourn your asses…


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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