Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man? – THE DEBATE

Hello World,

As you know, I attended ABC News’  “Nightline” debate “Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?” on April 9. Since I am passionate about the topic of relationships, black love in particular, I have a wealth of information to share with you, and quite possibly – the answer to this stirring question…Read on…(Also, “keep in mind that I’m an artist,” and you know the rest…Erykah Badu ain neva lied…)

It all started in a Taco Bell somewhere in L.A. or it all COULD have started in a Taco Bell somewhere in L.A. …A voluptuous black actress and comedian noticed a slim but cute black actor…but with a sudden realization, the actress and comedian decided the pass the struggling actor on by… “Oh he’s good looking, but he didn’t drive up in anything,” said the struggling actress and comedian who had to ride the bus to her destinations. “And I need to be with a man at least who’s driving up in something.”

So who was the black actress and comedian and who was the black actor? Sherri Shepherd and Hill Harper. The two met each other years before they became successful in the entertainment business. And Hill Harper shared the story as part of the debate to illustrate one of the points that he made during the debate – that a black woman may find a “diamond in the rough” if they are willing to date a man with potential. In his book “The Conversation,”  Hill wrote about this point when he described how our future president and first lady met. An up-and-coming attorney was willing to date a law school student whose mode of transportation was so raggedy you could see the street through a hole in the bottom of it.

Sherri pointed out she could ride the bus by herself and needed someone who could at least upgrade her situation.

“But I had potential,” Hill said with a wry smile. The audience erupted in laughter and applause. And of course Sherri countered. “Now so maybe some stuff can happen.”

Although this exchange between Hill and Sherri was hilarious, it was a poignant exchange nonetheless that left me wondering if the course of many women’s lives would be changed if they were willing to look past the exterior and see what lies underneath…Obviously, Hill Harper turned out well in spite of his humble beginnings…(And for a skinny, light-skinned dude, he sure is fine…)

Dating a man with “potential,” a man who has not achieved the same professional status or even one that society deems not appropriate for a black woman seemed to be the themes of the night… I talked with a few of the audience members at the debate… I asked them is it true that a successful black woman can’t find a man.

“No,” said Dashon the Dating Diva, a blogger for FlaglerHill.com. “Sometimes we are own worst enemies when it comes to criteria. If a woman has an MBA, she has to marry a man with an MBA. Or a man has to be appealing to my girls.”

Dashon explained that she met and married her former husband when she was a Coca-Cola executive and he was a meter reader. “I looked for someone with character. Formal education is not equivalent to intellect. I know a lot of educated fools.”

Although their 17-year marriage ultimately ended in divorce, it was not because of their inequitable professional status. “I’m better because of the marriage,” Dashon said.

Dex Day, a flight attendant, said that she was willing to open her dating pool to white men as she had some negative experiences dating black men. Day met her husband, a white man, at Johnny’s Hideway, a nightclub in Atlanta, and have been together ever since. They have been married 10 years.

“If I preferred a black man, that would make it easier for me in society,” said Day, “but it was more important to have someone love me. I married a good man with a good heart.”

Again, although much of the debate was punctuated by laughter, some macro societal issues were also discussed.  Hill mentioned that as the U.S. moved out of the Industrial Age and into a more office-based working environment and the Civil Rights Era, the “powers that be” at the time and even now have found it much easier to hire black women rather than black men for these jobs. Over time, this practice has created a generation of black women that out-earn black men…

Futhermore, according to Hill, 69 percent of Latino-American children are raised in two-parent households. 79 percent of white American children are raised in two-parent households. 84 percent of Asian-American children are raised in two-parent households.

“We’re at 31 percent,” said Hill. “So that’s huge catastrophic problem…”

Obviously, we’re looking at the destruction of the black family if we don’t figure out a way to get together and stay together…

But the onus of responsiblity of shifting our dating paradigm should not and cannot just fall on black women…Many men seem to be choosing women that they shouldn’t be…(According to Hill again (yes, I do luv him!) 95 percent of women are trying to date 5 percent of the men, and 95 percent of the men are trying to date 5 percent of the women…) Here’s what Sherri had to say about that.

“I don’t know any black woman that could go out here and make a sex tape and get a cupcake line, a clothing line, a perfume line …be touted around  on the arm … on the arm of an athlete like, ‘This is my girl.’  ‘Cause, you know, when we do that kind of stuff, we called ‘SuperHead’ or we called, you know…” Wonder who she is talking about? Hmmm…

Steve Harvey also admitted that his generation of men failed to teach younger men how to be men and it shows up in hip hop music and broader culture.

“In this generation that first benefitted from the Civil  Rights Movement, a lot of us are the first ones in our family to go to college, the first one to climb the corporate ladder, first one to get a position at the post office, be the supervisor … whatever the case may be…In that climb, in that journey, we forgot to turn around and teach the generation behind us the business of manhood.”

Steve added that this lack of knowledge of how to be a man which includes knowing how to love a woman has found its way into hip hop music.

“We’re the only race of people who degrade our women in our music.” Say that…Straight garbage is on our radio stations…another topic for another day…

Obviously more could be said, but I’ve probably gone on far too long…

Watch the whole debate tonight on ABC News’ “Nightline” at 11:35 p.m.!



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30 thoughts on “Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man? – THE DEBATE

  1. Sounds like it was an interesting and enlightening night! As someone who’s been married for 34 years, this whole topic fascinates me, and I have such compassion for sisters who want to be married but haven’t been able to find suitable prospects. A lot of black men truly leave a to be desired, but I do believe single black women need to take a long, hard look at themselves and their
    expectations. Too many are looking for the perfect man, and there is no such animal. See this article over at Elev8.com:

    BTW, leave the skinny, light-skinned boys alone! LOL!

    • Yeah, I have been hearing about how crazy Chilli is with her looong list of requirements…a woman should have standards, but she will be looking for a looong time if she is expecting perfection!

  2. My concern is not so much a man’s level of education (although I won’t deny that he needs to be intelligent and good at whatever vocation/career he is involved in)–it’s his (lack of) commitment to spiritual things. There’s a lot of sleeping around going on and there is an expectation that it’s ok to go to church on Sunday and sleep with your girlfriend on Saturday night. I won’t cross the line on moral standards and too many men and women are willing to.

    • I agree wholeheartedly…if you try to find a man who is willing to not have sex before marriage adds a whole other level to this conversation…

    • Going to church isn’t going to stop him from cheating or make him saved. I suggest you stop trying to convert and start understanding him. Try to live up to his expectations once in a while. Is it really so hard to listen and apply?

  3. I must admit that I was a little skeptical as to what would come of this “discussion” but you did an amazing job of eloquently highlighting the central points ~ not just the usual blab!!! I will try to keep this brief, but shame on Sherri and so many women like her. While some women – and men – are interested in people upgrading them, I say upgrade yourself and then look for your mirror!!! If you are driving a Dodge Neon, you should not expect more than that. Like attracts like – I don’t understand why people don’t get that. Yes, you may very well meet someone who will strengthen and compliment you in areas where you are weak, but to demand what you don’t bring to the table … As for potential, I am not talking about mindless chatter about what “I’m ’bout to do ….” but to pass up someone who really is working towards their goal, really putting in the time and effort is a missed opportunity. I will never forget the couples who mentored me and their story: when she met him he had two kids and was living at his mom’s (they were in their twenties). But he had “potential.” She said he was only half of what she was looking for, but she knew he’d become someone (more). Fast forward 15 years, he is the chair of his department and they are one of the highest paid couples in their state …. 3 (additional) beautiful kids and a loving, healthy marriage. When more women and men start giving underdogs the chance and realize that its no one’s job t upgrade us, I’ll believe the hype. My morning rant :-). Another couple, similiar scenario – she was 25, he was 10 years her senior, divorced with 2 kids. In spite of her family’s opposition, they married. 30 years later they are STILL my favorite couple. He still makes her breakfast every morning .. they still have chilli every Friday night.

  4. Thanks for the update Jackie. I will definitely record this tonight. I may need a reminder though. For many that have not read Hill Harper’s book, it is quite an interesting read. Most of what is in his book you can get from a good guy friend. Not just any guy friend, but one that is honest with you and honest with himself and will not lead you astray.

    As far as potential, while I can applaud the examples given in Blogess’ post, the older you get, the less I am willing to look for potential. At my age, I am not looking for potential. I can see that being true for our younger sisters and brothers just getting out of college and trying to find their way. But when you’re 40, and dude is touting that he has “potential”, I will look the other way.

    One thing me and some friends have started to do is create a “Dating Diary”. Where we write about our dating adventures. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Not just what they have done, but it documents our own good and bad habits so that we can actually own the mistakes me keep making. Which a lot of times, is the reason we can’t find a good man.

    For a while I was jaded, but in the last couple of months I have found myself to be quite optimistic. I may not be for everyone, and everyone might not be for me, but I am a great catch waiting to be caught by that special someone. So cheers to those of us not checking-out on Black Love and falling into that bitter black woman syndrome. I’m way too cute for all that self-pity.


    • You are a great catch! But are you willing to date a man who has not achieved everything you have? What about the good man that works at the library, post office, etc.?

      • When I was young I had strit limitations on the profession “my man” had to have. Now that I’ve grown and matured, I don’t have any limitations. I just want him to be able to work and show he can sustain a job. There are a lot of jobs with titles that make decent money that don’t have “Sr” or “Director” or those other adjectives we equate a “good job” with. Just as there are some that make less than me who are extremely happy with what they are doing.

    • Cris, does this mean that by 40 everyone needs to “have it together?” Just asking…. I think we all have potential, we all can grow, we can all do more. I hope that even at 80, I still have potential. Once again, not just talking about what I want to do, but taking steps towards that.
      BUT glad that you’re keeping hope alive :-). Love the idea of the dating diary.

      • I never said he had to “have it together”. Hell, I don’t have it all together but I’m on a path of finding my own success.

        When I say, I’m not looking for “potential”, I’m talking about those brothers who are my age who are still in limbo due to their own limitations on what they want to do, ways to go about doing it, and being spoiled and not having to do much for themselves.

        I’m not weary of a man striving to be better or getting to the next step. What I am weary of is a man who speaks that language but has no plan of action or uses it as an excuse to make it seem as if he’s aspiring to something which he is not. For instance, I met someone a few years back still aspiring to become a rapper with no Plan B. I don’t see potential in a 30 something aspiring rapper, no demo, no plans, no paying for studio time, and no other plans to in case his dream does not come true.

  5. Hey, I love this Article. I didn’t go to the debate but this is something I’ve thought about often. I’ll ad my two cents (maybe 3) I think if instead of having that mentality of how this person can upgrade me, make sure your whole and complete by yourself (not saying you have to achieve a certain status, but also saying somethings do need to be in place) and then you’ll draw another whole and complete person. Think about how you can help be an asset and a blessing to that person, and be humble let that be your focus. Never been married but I know the heart of marriage is dual servitude.

  6. Loved the blog Jackie. Since I just got married last week all I can say is that when I met my husband I made a lot more money than him. However he made it VERY CLEAR from the beginning that how much I made did not matter and that was not the reason he was dating me. Well its a few months later I was let go from my “good job” of twelve years and here we are married. Just think if I had dated someone who made as much or more than me and the fact that I earned what I did was an important factor in dating me? Would we have made it to the altar? Would them knowing my “potential” been enough? Fortunately I don’t have to find out.

  7. I forgot to answer Jackie’s question on “something new”. In all honesty, I have no intentions on dating someone non-Black. I’ve opened up to a person of color, but I love Black men WAY too much to give up on them. I know it may seem strange given the fact that we see so many stories, articles, and shows on the shortage of good black men, but I’m not buying into it.

    I cannot understand why we as a people are the only race that promote dating outside of our race to the extent that we do. I don’t see that in other cultures where they try to perserve the love and family growth whether Asian, Hispanic, Indian, etc.

    I grew up in a very pro-Black household and that’s been instilled in me. The way my Black man moves, how he smiles, how he smells, how he provides shelter, security, warmth, and care. How he walks, strides, and struts. How he laughs, cries, and how he understands who he is in this world as a Black Man. I’m sorry, but I just am not ready, willing, nor able to throw that away. Just being honest. Like I stated earlier, I’m truly being optimistic on finding Black Love.

  8. When I say that I am a successful black woman, I mean that I have my head on straight, and I see the light at the end of each tunnel, which are my goals and I walk toward the light. I have a career, 2 Degrees, and no children, but none of that can keep me warm at night. Yet, Im still pickey about what I want to keep me warm. IS POTENTIAL ENOUGH? Potenial without follow-through is like faith with not action, DEAD. There are a lot of men who have just potential and no follow-through. You would probably say “well they may need some motivation.” Well, I use to be the kind of sista that was the cheerleader for a man until I kept getting tackled, or he kept refusing to play in the game. I would be glad to motivate and be there for someone but, I’m not going to let all I’ve accomplished go down the drain for somebody that won’t get off the bench, get on the bus, ride in their hooptie to work, or off their butts to make it happen.

  9. I feel sorry for Black American Women.. even in college, there were not too many Black American men.. so what do u expect??
    As Somali women, i advise Black American women need to date outside their race.. Period..

  10. @Naima, thanks for stopping by my blog :). Have you dated outside your race? If you have, did you have a good experience?

  11. Great read. Smart and independent women tend to fly solo for a long period regardless of their desire to find a good guy. The thing is that men tend to prefer intelligent women in theory, but tend to shy away in face-to-face or real-life interactions. Men tend to be influenced more by their emotions and feelings in the here and now, and less by their preferences for their perfect match.