He Said/She Said

Google Stalking Hill Harper: Harper Wants To Have A Conversation, But Is There Anything Left To Talk About?

In Hill Harper’s new book “The Conversation” he takes a stab at the dating/marriage crisis in the black community. And why not? Everyone else is doing it from Steve Harvey to your grandmother. The Root gave the book a tepid review, arguing that while Harper tries to address both men and women in the book, it’s still largely geared towards black women and doesn’t offer much new.

But what more can be said about the black marriage crisis that hasn’t been said 50 times over and hasn’t been written about exhaustively in Essence Magazine? You have to applaud Harper for giving it the old college try because goodness knows, we need all the help.

More after the jump.

Harper presupposes that black men and women need to talk. Great. I’m all for talking. I talk for a living. But as The Root’s Felicia Pride writes in her review there isn’t much talking going on in the great dating debate, just mostly “finger-pointing and avoiding responsibility.” As I wrote in an earlier piece, it’s easy to say “all black men are dogs” or “all black women are angry” and absolve yourself of any guilt in the reasons why you are single. These statements kill conversations, not start them.

Then there’s the whole separate debate of whether or not books like Harper’s, which focus solely on black male/female pairings, reinforce the belief that black women’s only options in dating are black men.

What I would personally like is an honest conversation between black men and women about what they actually want from one another. I feel like all too often we get stuck on fighting old battles and old hurts and don’t deal with the realities of our dreams and desires and how sometimes those are the culprits causing our unhappiness with one another.

I had a lengthy conversation with a male friend going through a custody battle who was frustrated with the perceived disrespect he’d received from his ex-wife and other women he’d dated. I mostly listened as he went into depths trying to figure out where things went so terribly wrong between black men and black women. Much of the critique of black women was well-worn and rote. The complaints about our perceived bossiness or how we are emasculating. He agreed that I weren’t these things, causing him to rethink some of his statements. And he understood that all black women weren’t this way, but I didn’t understand why when one black woman or one black man fails us, so many of us are quick to label all black men and women that way?

One of the first men I ever loved truly was horrible to me. He was also black. But my relationship with him did not change my perception of black men at all. After all, my father is a black man. My uncles are black men. My grandfathers were black men. And I love them all. It seemed immature and silly to base my view of black men solely on that bad relationship or any other bad dates that followed. I didn’t understand why black women couldn’t be extended that same courtesy. Instead we’re often all labeled as harpies.

Some women are emasculating. Some men are cruel. Some women are manipulative. And some men are unfaithful. Where does this mentality come from where we must taint the whole for the infractions of the some? That’s the conversation I’d like to have. When will we stop disrespecting each other out of bitterness?

If I were to ever write a dating book to black women I would tell them what I’ve said before on this blog, don’t panic. Freaking out over scary statistics like 70 percent of professional black women never being married will not get you a man. Being your best self, getting out there and meeting people, loving yourself and not clinging on to the past or bad pathologies, will help you find your happy place with or without a man.

As for black men, I obviously can’t speak for them, so I ask my male readers, what would you like to talk about in regards to the marriage crisis? What kind of conversation would you like to have and what advice would you give if you could write a book?

Harper had his shot. What’s yours?

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18 thoughts on “Google Stalking Hill Harper: Harper Wants To Have A Conversation, But Is There Anything Left To Talk About?

  1. polticallyincorrect says:

    Hill Harper is over 40 and not married, what does he have to say about a marriage crisis? Isn’t he part of the problem?

  2. I think of the scene in Beloved. Danny Glover kissed Oprah’s scars. We need to be involved in the healing of the wounds. I think we are way too focused on the material and not the spiritual aspects of love and relationships. I am not speaking of the African-American Christian Financial Complex model. I am speaking of the real truth about ourselves, our inner beauty and the purity of heart within all of us. Love and marriage are not about money,status and aquisition of material goods. Nor are love and marriage are about the unrelenting standards we impose on each other, it is after all love and acceptance,friendship,respect,support,commitment. bell hooks said "once we got the means we lost our way" . I am paraphrasing. Love Y’all

  3. Monie says:

    Hopefully more comedians and b-list actors will write books to help us poor downtrodden Black folk out. Can we get a book from Sherri Shepard on child rearing? Does Chris Rock have a book coming out?

  4. David Wise says:

    If you’re a relatively young black woman, I can see maybe why there’s some anxiety about being single. I think for the older crowd like me, it becomes less of a concern with the passage of time. I’m almost 50 and it’s no big whoop to me, thank goodness.

  5. urban suburbanite says:

    I like and respect HH, but who wants to read a book about relationships written by a single person. Especially someone who is over 40 with no major committed (marriage or long term) relationships. I’d rather read a book by an 80 year old who’s been married for 50 years. Those people have the goods on relationship advice.Re: interracial relationshipsThe fact that women outnumber men in the US makes it impossible for everyone to marry "within their race". Furthermore, there are so many @$$holes in the world, if you can find someone who can be your best friend and your lover, does it matter what package they come in?

  6. Fran says:

    It’s easy to tell young women not to panic when everything in their environment says there is something wrong with you if you aren’t married by a certain age. There is a tremendous amount of pressure to marry. Couple that with the ever ticking biological clock amd you have panic. This may be difficult for some to believe but not every woman wants marriage and kids. A woman is made to look like she has some incurable disease if she doesn’t want to marry or at the very least, selfish. Why is it so difficult to believe that some women just want a career and a companion without the walk down the aisle?

  7. Brandi says:

    @urban suburbaniteVery true about words of wisdom from the elderly. Before we were married, my husband’s great great aunt gave me some advice – "give him some every now and then, okay?" priceless!

  8. David Wise says:

    I just read that interview and Harper did make one incredibly honest point about black women. And everybody knows it’s the truth. Hee, hee

  9. T. Rogers says:

    I applaud Harper for his effort. But really there is not much left to say. As a man about to celebrate his seventh year of marriage this month I can tell you it is NOT rocket science. People are not getting married because they don’t want to. Period. I don’t believe in soul mates. I don’t believe in fairy tale love. Those both imply that something magical happens and people don’t have to work. That’s BS. Marriage is work. Functioning, mutually beneficial relationships are work. And many people just don’t want to put the effort in. There are many men and women who could give you a laundry list of reasons of why they think they are desirable. How many can give an equally long list of why it would benefit someone else to be with them? It is not about what you can do for yourself. It is about your ability and willingness to work in concert with someone else for the greater good of both of you. Lastly, your marriage has to be your first priority. Your spouse has to come before your job, your career aspirations, your friends, and your family members (including mothers). Your spouse also has to come before (brace yourself) your children. Nowadays most people don’t want to make THAT much of a commitment to one person. It’s just not vogue anymore. It is easier to focus on personal goals and just "doing me". Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you are good at "doing me" it makes you desirable mate. It doesn’t. Once again, I appluad Hill for his book.

  10. pioneervalleywoman says:

    Hmmm…He raised the same old, tired, black women are not willing to look at a man’s potential, referring to the old story about Michelle Obama dating Barack Obama when he was a young law student and then a community organizer. But he doesn’t address the equivalent about men and their focus. He claims women all want the brother who is incredibly accomplished, but there are few of them. And yet, he doesn’t talk about the men who insist that a woman be an absolute "dyme" before they will have anything to do with her. There aren’t all that many "dymes," but there are plenty of women of average looks, who are attractive in their looks and personalities, but they get run over while the men chase the women everyone else wants….

  11. Charlz says:

    I haven’t seen good old "Hill" in years but back when I knew him….. he wasn’t even into black women. Stay in your lane dude!

  12. Jennifer says:

    I have heard the arguments for years concerning the Black man & woman in America. It is sad that so many men and women are looking for love, and yet they can’t connect. Why do Black women have sure high expectation for the Black man and why are Black men not satisfied to build a relationship and stay in for the long haul. I have been married twice. I loved deeply and treated kindly, and yet they cheated, is it in their nature or opportunities presented themselves that they couldn’t resist? Not sleeping with a married person is a start to changing the climate.My expectation of a Black man is just to be honesty, and understand that you can’t have a relationship without trust. If it’s not what you want then leave with dignity, and leave me my dignity. What are we teaching out children if we can’t show each other respect in our relationships. Maybe relationships have a shelf life, we grow apart and aren’t meant to be together for 40 years, but end the relationship before starting the new one. Especially if you have children. They are the innocent victims of your lack of commitment. Shouldn’t they be able to enjoy both parents without a war going on. If your cheat on your partner, you start a war. I am open to the conversation starting, but we have to respect each other as individuals before we can start making head way.

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