ACT like you got some sense, and THINK for yourself!

21 Apr

I wish Steve Harvey would go sit down somewhere and smoke a pipe, because all he’s doing is blowing hot air.  And Black women are lining up in droves for a turn on the hot air balloon.  Just two nights ago a young undergraduate student asked in a panel on racial stereotypes, “Why can’t Black women find and keep a man of any race?” Sigh.

Tonight, Steve Harvey and Vicky Mabry will co-host a Nightline Face-Off: “Why Can’t A Successful Black Woman find a Man?” featuring Sherri Shepherd, Jacque Reid, Hill Harper, and Jimi Izrael.

As you can see, I’ve never been good at acting like a lady, and playing my position. So I’m gonna talk out of turn and suggest some of the things that I do and don’t want to hear in The Conversation this evening.

  • We don’t need to hear that Black women’s issues are keeping them from getting men. Why? Because the statement assumes that Black women are more pathological than every other group of women, and any sound reasoning person knows that false.
  • We don’t need to hear, Steve Harvey, about Black men’s need to profess, provide, and protect. Can we get a 21st century definition of Black masculinity already? One that “uncouples strength from dominance,” demands that black men do their own share of the emotional heavy-lifting in relationships, and one that frees everybody up from performing gender roles that are unproductive, stressful and unfulfilling.
  • We don’t need to hear that the panacea for our dating problems is interracial dating. It’s an option that any woman should choose if she’s so inclined. But don’t tell me I should be so inclined until you’re ready to release me and all Black women from the unstated expectation that we hold down the crumbling Black family at all costs, including our health, safety, and mental well-being.
  • We don’t need to hear black men tell us that they know what’s best for us, that they understand our plight better than we do. Like the Combahee Sisters told us, “We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation is us.”

And here’s what we do need to hear:

  • We do need to hear that Black women “find love, sex, companionship and community” in a range of ways. And we do need, Sherri Shepherd, to write ourselves some permission slips to do so.
  • We do need to hear that all “successful Black women” aren’t straight, and that queer Black women have their own challenges and triumphs when it comes to finding love.
  • We do need to hear how amazing singleness can be. Cuz let’s be clear. Having time to think, to read, to travel unencumbered, to be in your own space and love and appreciate your own company, is the luxury of the single woman, and the necessity of the professional woman. Frankly, the more I like me and my life, the more I’m convinced this whole marriage thing is  overrated.  Do I want a man? Yes. Sometimes. For some things.  But on other days, I simply want me, a good book, and maybe the company of some close girlfriends.

Watch the show if you want. I probably will, since I’m single and have nothing better to do. <Side eye> But I am gonna do myself this one favor. In matters of love, I gonna  ACT like I’ve got the sense my mama gave me, and THINK for my damn self!

14 Responses to “ACT like you got some sense, and THINK for yourself!”

  1. wpeeps April 21, 2010 at 10:05 AM #

    I said Amen and Woot Woot! When we turn to Black men to tell us about our own damn selves better than, apparently, we can, Black women are turning our backs on centuries of tradition and community where we worked together with other Black women to generate a sense of understanding and some solutions to concerns in our lives! Steve Harvey is no more a relationship guru, specialist or expert than my big toe!

    But, the real issue is that even though these programs specialize in serving half-truths and all out lies, they are speaking to a real sense of need and urgency for Black women. The question is how to address that need (instead of dismiss it) from a feminist/woman-centered space that understands not only the personal dilemmas but the historical and systemic ones within which Black women find ourselves trying to create communities of love and resistance.

  2. Ty April 21, 2010 at 10:38 AM #

    I agree wholeheartedly! I’m tired of our mama’s, grandmama’s, girlfriends, and even strangers acting like single is a 4-letter word and judging ppl who aren’t in the married and mother’s club. It’s always ‘Why dont you have a man?’ With the assumtion that (a)you want/need one or (b)something is wrong with you. I do miss my freedom sometimes…so whatever life you live, do it because you want to and because it fulfills you. SN: I think I’ll tune in tonight too and see what they’re talking about!

  3. happybrowngirl April 21, 2010 at 10:40 AM #

    I will watch it…with a tub of ice cream, LOL

    But yeah, I totes agree with fostering a better way to address this issue…starting with the “urgency” clearly felt by those particular sisters who are deadly serious about marriage and deadly serious about marriage to a black man!

  4. sheridf April 21, 2010 at 10:43 AM #

    Amen and ase. As a married woman I am happy to hear someone talk about the luxury of being single because too often that is absent from the discussion. There are pros and cons to both arrangements and when we bring all of them into the discussion it makes for a much richer conversation. It also allows for people to make informed decisions about choosing marriage.

    I know married women who are largely single mothers because gender norms have shifted such that women can be primary breadwinners but they have barely shifted in terms of who is primarily responsible for the day to day needs of children and maintaining households.

    There is enough envy to go around. The perception is that single black women envy married black women, but when it comes to the points that crunktastic made let me tell you from experience that there are truly many days when being able to set your own schedule, go and come as you please, go to the movies cause you want to and see what you want to, go out with girlfriends, sit quietly, read, work, make financial adjustments to your lifestyle, cry, what the hell ever seem like the biggest and most unattainable luxuries in the world.
    AND I love my partner and son like nobodies business. Nobody has it all, but many people have alot regardless of marital/relationship status.

  5. CeaseToAmazeMe April 21, 2010 at 11:13 AM #

    The problem I have with a major network tackling Black women’s “inability” to find a man, and making our singlehood a NATIONAL ISSUE for primetime TV is that it assumes the “problem” is our fault. When are white owned networks (ummm yeah, that would be just about all of TV…) going to hold white America responsible for creating the conditions that Black women have to deal with. Black unemployment rates, housing options and incarceration are all structural issues created by a specifically white power structure…When will the debates on what whitefolk are going to do about dismantling white power and privilege going to begin? when will they discuss employing and training black men instead of incarcerating them, so that there IS a larger pool of available men to “choose” from, should we choose to do so? When will they discuss the legalization of marriage for anyone who wants to get married, since we know statistically marriage creates stability and stronger community? Until Steve Harvey and every one else on the panel begin turning the camera around in the other direction, they are all just pawns in the game…gettin’ played.

    • crunktastic April 21, 2010 at 12:19 PM #

      You’re absolutely on point, Cease To Amaze. The structure of the program itself participates in blaming black women. Unfortunately, I think our communities remain invested in these types of dialogues because systemic shifts seem so daunting and unlikely that it FEELS more empowering to talk about what we can personally do to change our situation, however misguided and short-sighted such approaches may be.

  6. sheridf April 21, 2010 at 12:25 PM #

    Why am I in a coffee shop right now listening to a black man talk with a black woman about how the problems with the black community stem from black children being born out of wedlock. That black men need a restoration of their image as providers and protectors so that black woman will trust them and feel comfortable with having black men in the home. “That does not mean that the black man puts his foot on her, but that he opens doors for her and showers her with gifts….” This, I assume, is the “real man” distinction.

    I was trying to watch the Nightline Debate when I had to just stop and listen to the brother talk. Why listen to a show online when you can hear it live and direct. While I appreciate that he acknowledged the connection between dominance and “foot on the neck,” it was only in passing as a reference to the wrong kind of dominance. The right kind of dominance means in exchange for protection and being provided for we have to hope for the right kind of dominance to be maintained even when the ability to provide/protect are restricted in real life (and images). This all seems so risky. Traditional notions of a black family asks black women to take too many risks, against their own common sense. If we get much of our support (whether in a relationship or not) from other women to insist that black women spend the majority of their time chasing black men just does not make sense.

    I’m thinking when I see what I consider to be a cute black man, what is he going to say when he opens his mouth AND how will he react/respond when I talk back. Now I’m clearly not looking, but oftentimes when I do have conversations with brothers I often feel like I am more focused on what I cannot say because the frames of appropriate black womanhood are too tight. I cannot imagine the ridiculousness that some of my sisters are having to endure and I’m just talking about talking.
    Sometimes it feels like black women and black men are on two separate trains on parallel tracks going in different directions. Black men aspiring to go backwards to the mythical traditional black family and black women (the ones I know) aspiring to push forward to achieve conducive partnership models for living healthy and happy in America right now.

  7. Stick April 21, 2010 at 12:36 PM #

    You meet somebody you enjoy each others company. You have fun together you like each other so much you decide to keep it cracking. The end- when I got married I never thought about my race at all I just thought my wife was special and I wanted to be with her period. So eventually maybe you meet some person and everything just clicks so… its not tv or the radio nor essence magazine it j

  8. ashafrench April 21, 2010 at 7:07 PM #

    Preach!!! I just threw my funeral fan at you.

  9. Nafeesa Nichols April 22, 2010 at 4:43 AM #

    Uggghhh thank you sistahs.. this is my problem with this show and others like it.. once again within white american constructions of black women we are some kind anthropological experiment to be put on display or a problem to either feel patronizing sympathy for or to try to somehow “fix”. Not only does the framework of shows like these presuppose that this “inability” to find a black man is black women’s fault but it also presupposes that we are a homogenous group to be lumped into a mainstream media discussion like oh i dunno endangered elephants or dolphins or some such.
    (Personal sideline)- I am engaged to a Norwegian guy and as much as I hate to admit it, it has been a serious struggle trying not to believe that the fact that I, by chance, fell in love with the first white person I’ve ever dated has somehow been a betrayal of my politics of my love of myself and my people and of my level of black consciousness. And even though I realize that those feelings of self doubt are part of my own socialization within a sexist patriarchal and racist society..and within a patriarchal black family structure, well I STILL struggle.. which means that the conversations that we have, have got to be more open more aware and inclusive recognizing the fact that black women and their romantic needs and desires are just as diverse as the grains of sand that we find on a beach.. so that we embrace the idea that not everyone wants to get married, not everyone wants to be with a MAN, not everyone finds love in this tiny little box that is prescribed for us .. so that so many of us don’t buy into the Steve Harvey or ABC News, or CNN hype about the OUR various romantic situations thus closing ourselves off to joyful healing love.. whether that be for and from someone else or simply for ourselves.

  10. Denise Valdes April 22, 2010 at 8:52 AM #

    Beautifully stated and absolutely correct!

  11. sparkle April 26, 2010 at 9:49 AM #

    this gave me life. so much life. insert holy ghost dance right *here*.

  12. omi April 27, 2010 at 11:44 AM #

    YES! thank you. will be linking to this…

    so glad to hear other sistas chanting down the latest “babylon” in our lives.


  13. alexis January 20, 2011 at 5:05 AM #

    Okay..I’m almost a year late on this…but just last night I heard that the keynote speaker for the annual “women’s empowerment” radio sponsored extravaganza here in North Carolina is Steve Harvey! I can’t say I’m shocked, but I’m still furious. Ever since I heard him do some intensely homophobic stand up comedy, ostensibly to reach a black church audience his cultural production has been banned from my existence. And shame on Essence Magazine (again this kind of endorsement is not unprecedented but its still unacceptable) for giving so much space to this guy and TD Jakes to spout a conservative narrative about what black women should be and do!

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