I’ve seen this picture before. A few weeks ago I wrote an article entitled, “Successful Black Men Must Be Picky about Sex Partners.” Many people agreed with what I wrote and gave me props. Other people, not so much. To say that some people got heated by my commentary would be an understatement. Many in their critiques resorted to personal attacks on my intelligence and character. I’ll get into that in a second. I wasn’t concerned nor moved. I just yawned. This isn’t the first time this happened.
Back in 1999 I wrote an article entitled “Successful Black Men and the Shortage of Good Black Women.” Ironically the article was published on a woman-owned website. In that article I stated that successful Black men have a hard time finding a compatible mate. The article went viral before the advent of social media. Many Black women got heated. Some even found my e-mail address and were sending vicious e-mails that I guess were meant to demean me. I laughed it off. I was raised by a tough love grandmother so I have an extremely thick skin to anything any woman on the planet can say to me. Ironically many truly successful, and I might add, upper middle class Black women gave me props for the article.
I’m going to have to do an article on class differences within the Black woman community.
What was interesting was that the personal attacks never spoke to the actual merits of either of my articles. It was always a case of attacking the messenger which people resort to when they can’t attack the actual message. I’ve had people question my educational background, my finances, my height, and my mental health. The funny thing is that if I was an uneducated, broke, short, and crazy individual that still wouldn’t invalidate anything I wrote. What I wrote back then and what I write now is based on conversations with Black men who in the eyes of this culture would be seen as successful. For the educated folks out there it’s called “qualitative research.” Look it up. Explaining qualitative research would entail a longer paper with numerous footnotes. This is a men’s issues blog and not an academic journal.
Sometimes in discerning a person’s reaction to any phenomena it’s good to listen to what they have to say but also what they are not saying. My articles were simply triggers to larger issues within Black male/female relationship dynamics which in my opinion are only explored superficially at best. For this article I will narrow the issues down to two major social dynamics. One dynamic is the crudely named but socially accepted theme of “Black men ain’t shit.” A bigger dynamic is the theme of Black women feeling rejected by the Black men they find to be socially and sexually desirable. I’ll address the former first.
The reality is that many Black women feel like they are socially superior to Black men. Indeed Black women are known for stating in public forums, social gatherings, and in the mainstream media that they are looking for a Black man on “their” level. The narrative is that Black women as a group are more formally educated particularly at the college level and make money than their Black male counterparts. In terms of percentages Black women have an argument as far as college education. According to statistics compiled by the website, Blackdemographics.com, the percentage of Black women who have graduated college is 22% of the American Black female population. In contrast the number of American Black males who have graduated college is 17%. That really isn’t that major of a difference. I will, however, concede that point to the sisters. The question is does that educational advantage translate into an economic advantage? The answer according to major studies and other indicators is a resounding “no.”
While Black women have more formal education and also more of a percentage of their population in the workforce the reality is that Black men as an aggregate make more money than Black women. Again someone interested in verifying this information can explore the website, Blackdemographics.com. This information can also be found through rudimentary research on the Internet. This is despite the large number of Black men who are either unemployed or underemployed. With analysis this dynamic suggests that successful Black men, though a smaller percentage of the population, are financially solvent enough to carry the weight for the rest of the Black male population. The bottom line is that if they are using economic standing as an indicator of social superiority their argument of Black men not being on their level is erroneous.
Indeed, an examination of the quality and financial viability of the degrees earned by Black men and Black women may call into question the idea that having more academic degrees is a sign of social superiority. For example as a result of the increasing automation of different industries, STEM majors have a brighter future than most. There are more Black male graduates in STEM fields than there are Black females. Ultimately any degree must have a value in the workforce. Such a discussion, however, requires a longer article with appropriate footnotes.
The bottom line is that the claim that Black men are not on the same level as Black women stands on shaky ground. Articles and commentary such as those I have written challenges the social assumptions and beliefs of many Black women and even some Black men. Hence, the need to attack the messenger. “They in they feelings.”
A bigger issue is the feeling that many Black women get when they read articles such as mine. Women in general, and Black women in particular hold a strong hand in male/female relationships. Not an upper hand but a strong hand. In MOST cases Black women are in a position to reject the Black men they come across for various reasons. In many cases some Black women will use their educational and financial status to reject a Black man they feel isn’t on their “level.” Some are not physically attracted to a particular man. Many Black men have a bad habit of chasing a Black woman who is not interested in them. This creates a belief in the minds of many Black women that they are desirable to virtually every Black man who encounters them. Then they run into a successful Black man. This man changes the dynamic greatly.
All of a sudden the woman cannot say that this man is not on her level. Using the metrics of education and economic standing these men can say that these educated women are not on “their” level. How does a woman with a college degree and a $60,000 per year compare to a man with a graduate degree and making $200,000? Using that objective criteria he is above her and would be justified in rejecting her the same way she rejects someone less educated and underemployed. Another factor is that in the eyes of many men her college degree and career do not make her attractive in his eyes. He has money, what need does he have for her money? He can’t do anything with her degree. It sounds simplistic but it’s a social reality and it speaks to the nature of how a man chooses a woman for relationship purposes. It is what it is.
Realistically a successful Black man, especially if he is conventionally handsome, has many dating options. He is going to be desirable to a greater pool of women. If he chooses to be a womanizer the reality is that no matter how many women he chooses to sleep with there will be a larger number of women he will reject. Most successful Black men, however, prefer more conventional relationships. However this man chooses he will reject many women. Having many options he will have the ability to entertain the women he finds most physically attractive and compatible as far as personality. My articles strike a nerve because quite frankly many Black women know this and get upset at this reality. This is the reason why a Black male celebrity can draw the ire of the sisterhood for simply being seen with a woman who doesn’t look like the average Black woman.
There’s really so much I can say but I will end this on a personal note. This article is in response to attacks made upon my person by those who disagreed with my commentary. Those attacks were emotional responses and still didn’t deal with the issues presented. As noted earlier attacks were made on my level of intelligence, financial standing, educational attainment, and mental health. I have some things I want any detractor to think about. I can produce physical evidence of my educational background which can be independently verified. I can produce statements from the several banking institutions where I have accounts. I can share my credit score. I can’t prove anything about my mental health because I have never been under the care of a mental health professional. A negative cannot be proven. I can even stand in someone’s presence and let them assess my physical height, weight, and desirability. All of it would be irrelevant. It still wouldn’t change the assertions that I have made in any article. The only way to truly counter an argument is to address the actual argument. Anything less is intellectual laziness.