Elayne Fluker recently penned a column for Essence.com opining if black women are being unfairly targeted and punished for daring to be successful.
Study after freakin’ study—from CNN, to MSNBC, to ESSENCE—has told us, warned us, that as educated, accomplished Black women, we run the risk of being “punished.” That we won’t be able to find a suitable mate, nor get married, nor have children. Ever! I think I speak for us all when I say: WTF?
… Now that I’m “ready” (to settle down), I pay more attention to what “they” say about my options, and I’m reeling from the cruel statistics. “45% of Black women in America have never married; compared with 23% of White women,” they say. The rate of childlessness among highly educated Black women born between 1961 and 1970 is 38% they say. “African-American females, even with lots of education, do not fetch as much ‘value’ in the marriage market,” they say. “Black women outnumber Black men almost 2 to 1 in higher education,” they say. “The disparity is important because Americans have a strong tendency to marry those with equal levels of education.”
Well, damn. How does an SSBF debunk the stats and find a man during this recession of romance?
Fluker covers the usual basics — Date online! Date outside your race! Go Lesbian (she writes jokingly)! But isn’t this an odd mixed message we’re giving to young black women? Your success precludes your loneliness, or is there another factor at play? Is it really the fault of women who choose to advance their education and careers that they can’t find mates, or is there a bigger problem? Like, for instance, when my father was in college he thought it was odd that his friends were so excited that the male-to-female ratio at his alma mater, Prairie View A&M, was so skewed heavily female. While it boded great for the dating chances of him and his friends, he didn’t think it was exactly a good thing that there were four women for every man on campus.
And that was in the 1960s.
Now the ratio at black colleges and universities are even worse. Aren’t we really asking the WRONG question here. It’s not “black woman, you are too successful,” shouldn’t it be, “Hey black man, why aren’t you successful enough?” We’re ARE you? Why aren’t you at Howard University matching the number of sisters there? Why aren’t you at Prairie View? Why aren’t you at Grambling? Why aren’t at state schools? Why aren’t you at the work place? What is going on with black men where there is such a huge disparity? Are we not reaching black men soon enough? Are boys getting left behind? What’s causing them to be left behind? What is causing this gap?
No one should be punished for being successful. That’s ridiculous. It’s the American way to push yourself to do better and go farther than you possibly can. Why aren’t more black men meeting this same challenge? Why don’t they have the same motivation? What is causing this failure? It seems to me that what we really have is a black male failure problem, not a black female success problem. Isn’t some of this the fault of the collapse of the well-paying blue collar job — the former gateway to the Middle Class — that many men used as a springboard to be able to start families and buy homes?
Instead of asking women to step down, shouldn’t we be expecting more of ourselves and asking our brothers to step up? Shouldn’t we be trying to figure out what went wrong?