He Said/She Said, Obamarama

Anyone Wanna Date A Harvard Man? (O RLY?)

A writer at The Root recently asked, “Would most Type A, professional women have dated Barack when he was a broke, big-eared organizer with a funny name?

Shockingly, she thought not.

I’ve played matchmaker, unsuccessfully, for scores of black professional women. And I’m convinced that Michelle’s got something on many of us. Not her intelligence or her confidence or sense of style, her glowing skin or the carved silhouette of her arms. I could fill a room with friends who have all these qualities to spare. I’m talking about the choices I imagine she made in those crucial moments between meeting Barack and deciding who he would be to her. She must have focused on an abundance of goodness instead of his hint of goofiness and fixated on a warm smile instead of a pair of oversized ears. It’s easy to see now that he was a great catch, but how many of us would have been open to this guy who strayed so far from the black Prince Charming ideal, starting with his very name?

O RLY? Young guy, with a Ivy League degree, NO KIDS, and a job. Not the ideal? Really? Is that so?

More after the jump.

Last things first:

1) If names were an issue, no black people would be dating anyone. Everyone born from the 1970s on either knows someone, loves someone or has some form of an African, Muslim, African-American made up fancy-pants name. I was the only Danielle I knew growing up, but I knew about 15 Keishas and God knows how many Hakeems, Dantes and Dontrelles. Barack wouldn’t have caused most folks to blink any more than a guy named Kenyatta.

2) And that’s goodness with “a hint of goofiness” and “a warm smile” with “a pair of oversized ears” AND A HARVARD DEGREE.

Harvard. As in Ivy League. As in a giant, expensive degree that has “POTENTIAL” written across it. And the man had no kids? Puleaze.

I see writer

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35 thoughts on “Anyone Wanna Date A Harvard Man? (O RLY?)

  1. Can we also talk about how you’ve brought this subject up COUNTLESS times and The Root is just getting around to printing an antiseptic version of past Snob snarkings. Way to catch up Root.

  2. There is a certain intellectual laziness to that article that I usually find in two places…random Right wing blogs/columnists and articles geared towards Black women. whats THAT about? why are the people trying to tell Black women things talking to them so stupidly?

  3. ZooPath says:

    That article was so foolish. Is she really saying that most black women wouldn’t have gone for Barack at that point? That’s just deception.

  4. re: the other author – maybe most of the women who read this blog wouldn’t have been so shallow, but c’mon there are plenty of not-so-deep black women out there…and it’s not just about shallowness, it’s also about maturity.As a younger woman, I was always looking for that intangible quality I called "flavor" and it usually was a man with game…I know, but I appreciate game and since I wasn’t looking to settle down, I loved that machismo style in men I dated. Now, as a more mature woman, I care more about qualities that makes someone a good partner – resource holding potential, caring, stability, etc. And I think the author makes a fair point to ask us all to question our younger selves (21-26 yo selves), would we have given Barry a fair shot. and the answer for me is….maybe, but he’d have to impress me alot to get a second date.

  5. @ Inkognegro, Co-sign on the intellectual laziness. Actually, the author doesn’t even do her research. She makes it sound like Michelle met Barack when he was a "poor community organizer" which is wrong. They actually met when Michelle was working at a law firm and Barack was a summer associate from Harvard. So yea, the basic premise is wrong and a little research would have shown her this. I get where the author was trying to go with the article and telling black women to be flexible but her depiction of successful black as shallow and insipid is more than a little offensive. Also, a lot of black women who are "ambitious, ambitious careers and five-year plans" that I know got that way by being a little geeky or nerdy or whatever you wanna call it themselves so they don’t hate on men who are. Ope

  6. Xay says:

    Is this a joke? I graduated from an Ivy League caliber liberal arts college and most of the men I dated met those qualifications. Black or biracial, smart, goofy, unpretentious with a POS car. And eventually, I settled down with one.

  7. Danielle Belton says:

    @ DN LeeI just remember when I was in my 20s and girls were picking through various guys for dates and I was dating a guy who went to Morehouse everyone made a huge effing deal about him going to Morehouse. What was his major? No one cared. He was a Morehouse man. Was he a good guy? Didn’t matter. He was a Morehouse man. Usually the problem most of my friends, roommates and acquaintances had at the time was that they saw a guy like him as out of their league. I mean, they were in their 20s and immature and goofy. But I think that’s a trait of all young women. You don’t know what you want at 22. I know I didn’t know and I was the one with the "Morehouse man." That was really the main issue I took with the article. I think there are more factors at play here and that rather than it being some huge flaw with black women, it’s really just a trait of young women in general who don’t know what they want. But I just don’t see women turning down a guy with status if he’s available. Now if she’d used the school tutor I dated as an example I would have believed that one. A lot of women would not have dated a college student who worked as a tutor for an afterschool program. He was handsome and smart and sweet, but he’d had a terrible time meeting people. He had no Ivy League degree. He was just a good man. So yeah, I could see him struggling as he was in his early 20s and most people at that age are still hung up on looks and having fun.

  8. Tiffany says:

    I would have dated him. In fact most of the guys I dated in my teens and early twenties were that type. I looked for someone with potential and who was ambitious. Many of them were also pretty goofy and had a good heart. Those same qualities are in the man I married. It really depends on the woman. There are a lot of shallow and materialistic and superficial young women, but many of the girls/women that think like me, would have also dated Obama IF he had asked.

  9. Monica says:

    It seems we have this conversation every other day.I think a more appropriate question to ask is how many of us would go on a date with someone reporting to us? Barack worked for Michelle right? What are the odds of those relationships turning out splendidly?

  10. TMI says:

    so i guess the better question (generally) would have been if someone like barack would have been interested in someone like michelle? when barack first emerged on the national scene, one of the first things i noticed was his marriage to a black woman…call it what you will, but from my experience in academia, it seems like the type of brotha that we are describing here is not always looking for a sista…i understand we all know black men where this is not the case and i don’t have anything against interracial dating…i have done my fair share 🙂 this is just an observation…

  11. politicallyincorrect says:

    The Root is garbage, just like Essence.I think the more accurate question would be, would a Ivy League educated black/biracial man go out with a tall brown skinned, "good" hair and not model looking type woman

  12. thelady says:

    good points Monica and TMIa lot of men would have been intimidated by a woman being their supervisor and would not ask her on a datemost of the people I supervise are grad students in engineering, so if one of them asked me out right after he stopped working for me I would have said yes

  13. That Root article, like many Root articles, was so … facile. Among the many things it failed to address is the element of sheer luck. Sometimes, you meet the right person in the right frame of mind at the right time. Or maybe the skinny community organizer with the funny name just isn’t that into you, specifically. Michelle and Barack obviously chose well, but there are other factors at play beyond simply giving someone a chance. Bottom line: It’s complicated. By the way, that owl is hee-larious!

  14. Lisa J says:

    I read this article yesterday, b/c Raving Black Lunatic http://ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com/ wrote about this yesterday. The article smelled foul to me and you helped put into words better than I could what bugged me about it. And Erika is right, if approached by that kind of guy I would have been interested but I find lots of the cute, well educated black guys I meet, are just not interested in me, usually.

  15. Monie says:

    The only possible scenario in which Black women wouldn’t have considered Barack as a young lawyer is MAYBE there might have been a few upper-class Black women who wouldn’t have been impressed by his family, his lack of Jack and Jill type pedigree and his non-ties to the Black bourgeois in general. Other than that I can’t imagine that Barack would have had many problems finding serious dates amongst Black women.

  16. Agreed, those so-called deterrents are not deterrents at all. As far as I can tell, even without the Ivy League pedigree Barack Obama is a great catch. He seems like he had the right amount of "game" to deal with Michelle in a way she found attractive. She’s a community organizer at heart too so the fact that he went the same way is something they have in common, not a reason to dis the brother. But that’s kind of beside the point cuz they met each other at a top law firm. I’m curious about this "Black Prince Charming ideal". Who defines it because they haven’t let me in on the details. Maybe President Obama is too goofy for the author but not to me, his wife or scores of other women around the WORLD. Silly article.

  17. dukedraven says:

    I was deriding that article yesterday on a post. To not see Obama’s potential would have been sheer blindness. A total fluff piece.

  18. travelgirl says:

    I think some black american women may be turned off because of his african background and would not want to travel with him to africa if he chose to Some of us are really detached from africa

  19. travelgirl says:

    "may have been" (turned off )past tense by his background black women in my experience have made negative comments about africa and the men there but they are are not all the same

  20. I’m glad you wrote this Danielle because that article was truly ridiculous. The idea of a black woman, "type A professional" or not, turning down the Barack Obama Michelle met in 1989 is laughable. A handsome, childless, world-traveled, Harvard Law Student is reduced to a "broke community organizer"? Riiii-iiight. As if this type of man is one the same level or would be judged as the perennial bus driver or electrician professional black women are always admonished to date (although the same rarely happens in reverse).If anything, as you pointed out, Barack probably "smelled the effing desperation from a mile away" of plenty of black women (especially if they were insistent on only dating a black man) who would have gone out with him in a heartbeat. You can’t tell me that HE wasn’t the one being chased most of the time. I don’t believe for one minute that he was ever hurting for dates – even as a "nerd." If anything, a black female nerd would have a harder time in that area.

  21. Tell it Danielle!I concur!Two Ivy stripes…law review prez… AND Christian?? Even if he was making $20,000 a year as a community organizer, he could have ears as large as Dumbo and he’d still pass the initial screening process over at my house! *LOL* And I’d swear that he was as fine as Lenny Kravitz any day of the week!

  22. polticallyincorrect says:

    travelgirl, I think you need to travel. There are plenty of African American women with African men, but I have never seen a African American man date an African woman.

  23. JAYW says:

    ITA with Danielle. I read this yesterday and thought it was utter foolishness. I think what bugs me the most from a lot of black men is that it is Black women’s fault that most of us are still single.

  24. Sandra says:

    It’s not really accurate to say that Barack worked for/reported to Michelle. Michelle was one or two years senior to him at the private law firm they both worked for, and she was assigned as his mentor (as part of the law firm’s mentorship program), so she was not his supervisor. They were in fact equals, and the mentorship relationship would not prevent them from dating. I also disagree with the premise of the Root article. Barack Obama, with his Harvard law degree, associateship at a large law firm, his erudite speech, his regal bearing, charm and all-around handsomeness, would have been considered a catch to almost every African American woman, white woman, Asian woman, and everything else in between. The article author got it very badly wrong.

  25. Black Sheep says:

    DISAGREE! This was a great article. I received it several times in my inbox. Her point is extremely valid. You have to remember when he met Michelle he was getting his law degree, but prior to the Harvard name he was a awkard kid. Point – Black women stop focusing on the superficial, and focus on the heart.Black snob u got this one wrong.

  26. Blacksheep – you are wrong. He was hardly an "awkward kid" prior to meeting MO in that law firm. He was a Columbia University graduate who worked for the financial firm for several years (and dated a wealthy white woman during this period according to his own words in his book "Dreams from My Father") before he chose to go to Chicago to work as a community organizer. Also, your "point" (stop focusing on the superficial, and focus on the heart) goes for Black men as well. And White women. And Asian women. And Latino Men. And Eskimos…

  27. Court says:

    I guess I live on a completely different planet than most of the responders then. I know a bunch of intelligent men that get completely ignored because they don’t look the part, have superficial swagger or have the bank roll. As for Obama’s name, I can’t be so sure about it fitting in with the Hakeems and Kareems. Black folks like different, but different in a way that’s still the same. Remember, all those kids still have the last name Johnson or Jones. Obama is not Johnson or Jones. And PLEASE lets not front like African Americans have a good track record of accepting and respecting stuff straight off the continent.

  28. Sade says:

    On the other hand, Michelle has said that she thought he had a funny name and was pretty weird and was reticent to date him at first. Sure he went to Harvard, but Michelle went to school with black men, and Barack was two years older than her and yet her apprentice. The article has some issues, but it’s not coming out of left field.

  29. RCA says:

    Massive fail, indeed. Get out of here with that hooey. Most women who are seeking good guys usually dig the smart ones. I myself have always been partial to the geeky/goofy type, being one as well.

  30. The A says:

    Barack Obama is universally attractive because he has swagger AND intellect = a complete packageBoth qualities you can clearly see in his early college year pictures (the ones w/ the hat). If he was a geek, he was the undisputed king of the geeks. Michelle says she tried to resist. He wore her down like a real gentleman would.If more bruhs had true Swag like that, maybe they wouldn’t be single. Many of the unhappy overlooked dudes have one trait or the other. What good is swag if you are dumb as a brick. That’s a Boy Toy. What good is intellect without manly swag. That’s a Lifetime Friend Zone Platinum Club Member.

  31. Orgin says:

    Polticallyincorrect I have to agree with Travel girl here.I have heard countless black american men and women have negative stereotypes against black africans.As far as black men dating african women. I have known a few black men who have dated and married african sistas.So no this isn’t rare.

  32. Orgin says:

    I also feel the article makes some good points. We as black folks have unrealistic standards that we set for both males and females.The sad part is when we date outside our race, we often times never set standards as high.Seems like a bit of self hate.

  33. Anne Ewing Bell says:

    Hey, I'm a 63-year-old white woman, and even I could tell the very first time I saw him on TV in December '08 that he was, quite simply, a hot guy! Get real! Who wouldn't date him? When I volunteered at one of his rallies and saw him in person – I was in a group chosen to sit behind him – I KNEW he was hot! If he called me tonight, I'd date him in a NY minute – if my husband of 34 years would let me!

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