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]

24 AverageComments™:

Kesi said...

AB, as always, very well-put and enlightening, as I was rather disturbed in the beginning when I saw the series preview, as if black women are some specimen to be analyzed and studied like a National Geographic special.
E for effort on NBC's part for attempting to address some issues that affect the triple minority that most black women are (black, female, and not-white ;), but they can go somewhere with their feeble, trivial, marginalizing view into such important and complex situations that affect ALL women, not just us.
I also TOTALLY agree that these segments are insulting and pointless in being so short, like it was a rushed idea that some NBC exec felt obligated to sign off on to appease a frustrated subordinate and ease his conscience.

AverageBro said...

@ Kesi:

In NBC's defense, the segments being shown on TV are abbreviated versions of full features on NBC's website. But I haven't bothered watching these, and won't.

If they cared enough, they would have aired the entire thing, or just dedicated an episode or 2 of Dateline.

hawa said...

I made slightly more money than my ex-husband. And yes, the relationship didn't last long. He walked out just days before our 4th anniversary.

And I agree, compatibility issues, personal insecurities, and so many other factors were to blame. I'm not prepared to boil it down to "he was just intimidated by my intelligence and income."

Funny how whites get to be multi-dimensional beings with complex issues and blacks get to be one-dimensional beings with simple issues that can fit a 10 minute segment.

And please, don't take the series from your Ti-Faux programming. I love your synopsis and subsequent analysis of the good, the bad, and the ugly. *smile*

Maria said...

Of course, this "problem" is only a "problem" if you think everyone should be married.

Maybe they don't want to get married (for whatever reason)? Cause if that's the case, then there's no problem.

AverageBro said...

Of course, this "problem" is only a "problem" if you think everyone should be married.

Strangely, this was an angle the series hasn't even touched on yet. Now there's a unique perspective that someone should explore.

DJ Fusion/FuseBox Radio said...

Black people who DON'T have terrible issues or at try to control them must not make good TV according to most mainstream media - this series is just one example of that.

I got annoyed watching (have done online since I'm usually not at the homestead when it shows) since all of the coverage seemed to be very divisive for Black Women and Black Men period.

DJ Fusion/FuseBox Radio said...

Hit the enter button early, my fault...

I'm just tired of how Black People in the U.S. (and worldwide, really unless you're in a tourim commerical as background fodder a.k.a. Jamaicia spots) are supposed to be the most dysfunctional people EVER in life.

We all have our issues, but no one sees a thing about other people's backgrounds and back to back stats on TV constantly about how hopeless their situation is.

Today I was listening to CNN at work on the 'net and they were talking about black male murders like they were all new because of the death of Sean Taylor.

The black folks being interviewed were sounding like "Are you even serious?" when the newscaster was asking them questions.

Sometimes these things just get tiring.

Mr. Blame Game said...

Your a funny guy. I like your blog...I think. I'd like for you to place more blame on rap music. Which is where it belongs.

cinco said...

Unfortunately these segments will do little to '
educate' or 'enlighten' anyone. Instead, those who are unfamiliar or ignorant of the 'unique plight' as well as the 'survivor skills' of African American women will remain as they were- in the dark...

Leslie D. Callahan said...

Ok, Averagebro, while I think it is irresponsible simply to attribute "intimidation" to black men when they don't marry or date women who are professionally successful, it is also problematic to try to debunk that impression on the basis of "no one ever said he was intimidated" to you. First, it's possible, even likely, that a brother who is intimidated or feels that his manhood might be questioned if his woman makes more money would never admit it, even to another brother. He might even "protest too much" by exaggerating the degree to which he is proud of her money, as if he is running a wonderful game. Second, considering that a recent study published in Slate suggests that men generally are turned on by women who are smart and ambitious but only to the degree that they are not as smart or ambitious as the men, there may be more to this "intimidation" thing than race.

I know that you are completely into your wife's smarts and (former) money but maybe that makes you something other than an "average" bro.

Seaniemo said...

I haven't had the chance to check it out but I will make sure I do. I too am getting sick of mainstream america trying to justify what are the problems in black men and woman relationships.

I think part of it is "The Great Expectation" coupled with the many images of what they are supposed to be. I also think (and I will probably recieve heat but...oh well) when it comes to independence for a woman...the definition has NOT been explained.

There are far too many "You don't need him, he is no good songs books, and movies out here. They do not explore the underlined issue but they focus on hurt and retaliation.

Maybe I might be off key but it is something that we black men and woman do need to find a solution to because lack of solution will have bad impact on our future race.

Anonymous said...

Are you denying that Black people have serious problems in marriage. 70% of black children being raised without fathers in the home is a problem.

We had stronger families after slavery.

Maybe not being married isn't a problem? Are you joking? Our lack of marriage is one of the main reasons we are poor.

bdsista said...

Anonymous hit it right on the head. As a family law attorney, I am saddened by the lack of willingness of BM to marry their BW. Married households statistically are more stable economically and married couples are more likely to get mortgages and loans and other financial vehicles that build wealth. When I heard of Sean Taylor's death, the first thing that came to my mind is unless his fiancee had an insurance policy, she has nothing. No legal claim to anything. Her children will be entitled to child support from the estate and if he had the foresight to create a trust fund, then they will be provided for, but the fiancee has lived with a man as his wife and bore him children with NO legal protections at all for her financial security. The next of kin can distribute the money to the kids and squander the rest. How many of us have made no financial plans for our future? Get insurance, open trust funds and put money in them and damnit! Get Married!

Maria said...

Maybe not being married isn't a problem? Are you joking? Our lack of marriage is one of the main reasons we are poor.

That is total bullshit. Not everyone should be married. Not everyone wants to be married. Marriage is not the best thing for everybody. If two people choose not to be married to each other, then it is not a problem. It's only when two people disagree on the issue is it is a problem. Presenting as a problem for all is ridiculous.

And the reason people stay poor are much more complex than just not getting married. You can combine incomes w/o being married to someone.

AverageBro said...

When I heard of Sean Taylor's death, the first thing that came to my mind is unless his fiancee had an insurance policy, she has nothing.

Well, technically Sean Taylor's baby moms was Hispanic, so this might nullify your point about black men not wanting to marry black women somewhat. And he was engaged, so give him a bit of credit. Plus, you have no idea what sort of legal/financial arrangement he may have willed to the fiancee and child.

On the other hand, you won't find any debate from me about black men needing to stop pimpin' and get married. I teach premarital awareness classes at my church, so believe me, I'm with you on that one.

But you have to consider this: if black men don't grow up in 2 parent households, are only surrounded by failing marriages and uncles who have 4-5 kids all over town, and keep getting the "can't find a good man" message tossed at them left and right, yet still can find more than enough women willing to give them the goods without a ring, why on Earth would these men WANT to be married?

Where's the example/point of reference? Why would that even be an attractive idea if you've never seen it work for anyone else?

I always try to speak glowingly of my marriage (even when we're havin' one of those occasional days) around single men because I think two parent households are what black america needs more than anything else. I think many men who don't have a successful point of reference look at marriage as more about what you lose than what you gain. And that's pretty sad, but really, I can't blame them if they don't know any better.

Doesn't mean I won't keep trying to convince them though. They have no idea what they're missing out on.

JerseyBred said...

This is a great blog!

Anyway, I remember talking to my friend about our silly 15 mins of pity this week on Nightly News. I really pisses me off how we're pretty much deemed overachieving losers.

I really hate the attention that's paid to single sistas. I also how it victimizes us.

The one thing that many topics like this don't touch on is the common denominator. If you are constantly having a problem, look in the mirror. If you're constantly dealing with useless jerks, then you're doing something wrong. If so many men are insecure with your finances & independence, then you're probably being arrogant about it.

Our singledom is treated as a crisis & it doesn't help when mags like Essence & news shows feed into it. A lot of what affects our community affects the White community yet I don't see their issues treated as a crisis.

We're not an anomaly.

Ebonne said...

great analysis of the serious....

key word... "secure black man"

Marcus said...

I dont know the specific rules of succession florida but I was told that tyically (common law) any property owned by a person would go to spouse, if there is one, if not then to the persons issue (children).

I would think the child will be taken care of regardless of the parents marital status.

eisa said...

great blog, brother. just great.


brooklyngirlatheart said...

Great blog!!

There are so many reasons that black women maintain that single status. And, OMG, it's not all the black man's fault. The series failed to address the fact that marriage isn't for everyone. Many professional black women may not want to marry. Many black men are not as comfortable as you are AB and do not recognize that thy are intimidated by the educated, breadwinning BW. They enjoy the life-style, but being a breadwinning BW, I want a man that is going to be able to contribute some yeast to dough before I marry him. And many black men relax around a woman making money and don't assert themselves professionally because they can fall back on the wife, girlfriend, fiance, whatever title this woman holds. And often tell the BW that she expects, everybody to be like her and make as much money." All we want to know is how did you pay your cellphone bill before you met me? And why you aren't continguing to do so. When you marry it is an immediate combination of everything. I want to wait until I'm sure.

I don't think that it is foolish to have children and remain in a relationship without getting married. If you are not concerned about marriage. It is about picking your partner, and that applies to either sex. Childbearing is a tricky thing just like marriage. A man has the advantage. When a man is forty, and he's paid his student loans, he's done playing the field, he is at the pinnacle of his career, he can settle down and get marrried. A woman under the same circumstances cannot. A woman at some time around thirty has to decide if she wants to have family; married or not. If you are in a stable relationship and neither of you really want to be married but you agree to children, why should you marry just to have the child or not have a child to avoid that look you get if you are pregnant without a ring on your finger?

In my circle, I am privelleged to witness two parent households that are married and un married. As a matter of irony, the married household seems to have more "drama" right now than the not. Whom is to say that one is better than the other? Functional is functional; married or not, that is my opinion. People need to focus on what works for them instead of trying to fit a mold.

I live my life for me. I will be a lonely, childless cat woman... if I wait to have my baby until I'm married, and abandon all relationships that don't immediately show a glimmer of hope that it is heading down an aisle. Right now, I'm in a sinful relationship, full of pre-marital sex that we hope results in at least one child, and I HATE cats. I'm happy. There is happiness outside of marriage and children.

Anonymous said...

I've been glancing in on the NBC special every once in a while, but it hasn't caught my interest. Still, I haven't really been getting what all the uproar's about. I think in large part it doesn't bother me for the same reason I'm not watching it. Its all old tired data that I've previously seen in the context of women in general. The men won't date women who make more than them newsflash? Set my all women's college to bitching all of my first semester. I think they weren't very imaginative when they were coming up with their topics, but I don't find it offensive...

Kenya said...

interesting what avg bro said about reference point to the brothers, and being an example...good point

Felicia said...

I am a black woman, and I definitely fit the description of the title. I'm black, lonely, and plus I have a Alot of women are lonely, not just black women, but I do agree that for reason, it seems harder for black women to find someone who is interested in sharing a life with them. I'm just speaking from experience. I can't speak for everyone, just myself. I get the feeling that,white, whatever ethnic group they are from, don't value black women, as much as other women. Let's face it...we live in world where black women are not valued as much as other women. I know that sounds harsh, but it's true...just look at the numbers and look around you. White women first, Asian women second, Spanish, and then blacks dead last. Why do you think so many black women are angry? It's because most of them don't get the same attention and affection as their white, or lighter sisters. I must admit that I'm bitter about that, but there is nothing I can do about it, but deal with it. I won't be the first lonely woman or the last. That's just life.

MrPriority said...

Black Men and Women: Dating & Relationships being a Priority and never staying anyone’s Option

Black women have to first have a good relationship with God and know her purpose and vision in his word. Her job is neither her work nor vision. One can be well educated, intellectual and a successful professional but that will never make for a great potential girlfriend or wife. Most women have God in their lives but are afraid of working on becoming Proverbs 31 Virtuous Woman or like the wise 5 out of 10 in the Ten Bride Maids in Matthew 25. "We make time for what we want when it is a priority" by Author Kevin Kirksey. "When you are not a priority you are an option" by Author Kevin Kirksey.

A woman has to position herself and be visible at different events and places to be found by the right man and the man has to know she adds positives things in his life well beyond how fine she is and how good she is in the bedroom. A good woman has to be patient to receive her Boaz that God has for her. God wants to see how bad you want that heaven sent companion. When you are impatient you will become a repeat customer in the game.
Nothing comes easy in any commitment that is why two people need to take the time to look at the entire content of the package and not the bow & ribbon of the gift.

Black Men should stop talking about a woman's independence it has gone on too long. When a man knows his purpose, vision, dreams, goals, can cultivate, protect, take care of his responsibilities and be a good steward, and then God leads the way to THE ONE great women just for him. Independence is not found in God's word. I do understand there is a good woman created for each man but it is up to each man to be smart in choosing the right girlfriend or wife.

Brothers should be true to the game and hold it down by knowing what they want, where they are going and who they are.
Black men just be about it and stop talking about it when it comes to dating right and being in committed relationships. We hold the key because God put the weight on the man and not a woman. God created Adam and when he sinned he did not call or look for Eve it was Adam he called and looked for when he broke his commandment.

Brothers and Nubian Queens, I wrote a book that will bless you all, touch your mind, soul and heart, it is deep unlike any other.

My book is called When You Are Not a Priority You Are an Option at
Know what you want
Never deposit love credit into someone who a rarely deposits little or nothing into you when dating

Anyone can love, one can even love a dog and that only goes so far. Being in love is on another level many afraid to go so deep because of fear of being hurt again. Trust God and not yourself leave your fear behind and take your time.

Brothers and Sisters you will reap what you sow

what you do in the dark will come to light
The right ONE is out there, remember it is not all about you, without two striving for greatness in dating someone special or in a relationship it want go far. What do you have? A dead end street.

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