Thursday, November 29, 2007

NBC News To Black Women: "You'll Die A Lonely, Childless, Cat Lady."

[We Watch, So You Don't Have To.]

After blogging about the awful first night of NBC's series on Black women African American Women: Where They Stand, I honestly didn't plan on watching any more of the segments. After all, I do have other more important things to do (namely raise a child) after work. But for whatever odd reason, I set the Tivo Season Pass while viewing Monday's show, so the next two nights just happened to be there for my perusal. It also happens to be a pretty slow week for blogging fodder, so here we go.

Night two was far better than the initial segment. It focused on the epidemic of breast cancer among black women. Since I was born with testicles, I don't pretend to know a whole lot about issues of womens health, and thus this episode was pretty informative. Of course it also scared the heck outta me to the point that I badgered and annoyed the heck outta my wife to get her routine annual mammography scheduled (which she had already done anyway). I guess if NBC was shooting to enlighten someone, then you could consider night two a mission accomplished, at least in AverageHousehold.

Night three, however, is when the proverbial wheels fell off. Any time there's a segment called "Black Women And Relationships", I have to brace myself. The lead-in to the segment shows three "professional" black women sitting down with producer Rhehema Ellis to discuss the state of their relationships.

Cue The "Grim Statistics" Reel.

40% of Black Women have never been married, versus the national average of %27, and %16 for white women. The conversation immediately goes to the oh-so-predictable "black men are intimidated by women with more education and income" angle.

Stop the presses!!!

I am 34 years old. In my life, I have come to know lots of black men, from all levels of income, class, education, etc.

Not once have I evar, evar, evar, evar, evaaaaaaaaaaarrrr heard another black man say he was "intimidated" by a woman making more money than him. Nevaaaar!!!

On the other hand, black men bragging about having a woman that brings in as much, or more money than him? I've heard that one A LOT. A WHOLE lot. Heck, when I got married, my wife (who is now a stay-at-home mom) was making roughly twice the amount that I made. Was this "intimidating"? Hell naw, it was more money for BOTH of us. Man, that sh*t is a black man's DREAM!!!! Or at least a secure black man's dream.

It there's a brother reading this who is somehow intimidated by women making more, please, please explain why in the comments.

Since I can't personally say I've heard any man say this kinda thing, I can only surmise two possible "real reasons" why such an arrangement (woman makes more than man) wouldn't work out.

1) The man is needlessly insecure about many other things.
2) The man and woman simply aren't compatible and don't have anything in common.

But the NBC News segment, eager to boil issues down to a simple, easy to digest soundbyte, simply lets the sisters featured off the hook.

The conversation then shifts to the oh-so-predictable "all our black men are dating white women" angle.

Stop the presses!!!

Still fewer than 5% of black men are married interracially. Not that I care (because I obviously don't), but if these men find happiness with women that don't share their same skin tone, who's to judge? Ditto for black women dating outside their races. Get yours!

Simply put, relationships are hard work, especially when you're married. If you're able to find someone who can put up with your stuff and love you anyway, do it. If other people have a problem with this, then that's their problem.

The story then really goes off the deep end with yet another damning statistic.

70% of all black kids are born to unwed parents.

One thing oddly coincidental: One of the women on the panel had three children by a man and stayed with him for 14 years. They just got engaged to be married. Fourteen years! 3 Kids! Still NO RING! Another of the women was "a single parent for many years before she got married", and is then pictured with about 6 kids surrounding her.


Wouldn't that mean the very women on this panel grovelling about the 70% rate are a huge part of the problem themselves?


At what point does personal responsibility on both parts become a factor? After all, with the exception of a man forcing himself on a woman, it's not that easy for a woman to impregnate herself. So why frame the entire context of the out of wedlock kids issue as one of a lack of commitment from black men? What kind of idiocy is that?

Newsflash: It takes two to tango!

If you choose to continue laying down with (or simply staying with for that matter) a man who clearly doesn't want to marry you, then you're just a much of an idiot as he is, not a victim. Cut your losses and roll out.

I guess the biggest bone I have to pick with this segment is that it reduces black men and women to one-dimensional caricatures. Black men are noncommittal and afraid of women that make more than them. Black women are needy victims. Thus, when things don't work out, it's easy to chalk up grim statistics to these simple reasons.


Reality is, black men and women are no less complex than their white counterparts, and likewise, no relationship can be so easily diagnosed. Sometimes people are selfish. Sometimes their personalities don't mix. Sometimes it's just not the right time. Sometimes, it's just not the right person.

But it's never as simple as NBC News wants you to believe. And that's my problem with this series in a nutshell. NBC would never do a similar series on the state of "American" (read: white) relationships, because they wouldn't dare marginalize their viewers by reducing their problems to mere statistics and assassination by soundbyte. So why the absent minded reporting when it comes to black women and their "relationships"?

It's propaganda ya'll, I'm tellin' ya'.

On a far more positive note: the story did end by talking about the emerging trend of black women adopting children. I can only applaud that.

Thursday's show talks about the political power of black women in this next year's Presidential race, which admittedly seems interesting. But subsequent shows are about hip-hop's effect on black women and interracial dating, which are two tired issues I really don't need to hear any more about. Thus, I don't know if I'll be watching any more segments in this series, simply because lazy journalism doesn't appeal to me, and reality is, I don't (nor do I expect to) learn much of anything from watching TV anyway. Which leads me to wonder, if this series is so woefully imbalanced thus far (as both black men and women seem to largely agree), then who exactly was is intended to appeal to?

If it was meant to enlighten black America, I'd say NBC failed.

If it was meant to enlighten white America, I'd also say NBC failed.

However, if it was meant to perpetuate the same dangerous stereotypes that only serve to widen the rift in black relationships, I'd say NBC's right on the money.

I hoped (but didn't expect) this series would shed some light on the issues that black women face with advancing in the workplace. How they deal with an often racist society that pays them less than their counterparts. How they deal day to day with the very real issue of single motherhood. How they overcome despite the many obstacles they face due to the double whammy of being both black and female in a country that doesn't particularly uplift either.

So much for hope.

Redefining black relationships [NBC News Video]

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