I’ve been reticent to write yet another relationship column, but a reader recently posed me this observation in at letter after The Root published a second article about black women and dating and the Obama marriage:
It seems as if every single time these articles come out, they report the same tired statistics (44% of black women are unmarried, there are very few “eligible” black men available to date, etc.) and give the same advice (from black men: lower your standards to get a man; from black women: date outside the race and don’t wait for a black man).
Perhaps the articles (in Essence, online, everywhere I look) aren’t trying to suggest that I should lower my standards to attract a man, but they usually come across that way. No other racial or ethnic group is told to be “less picky” as bluntly nor as often. So now, I’m wondering whether some people feel as if black women are supposed to settle for whoever wants us, have lower standards, etc., in part because of the “attractiveness pyramid” that places Asian women on top, white women below, Latina women below that, and black women dead last. Shelby’s comment on the last discussion of the politics of interracial dating on your blog, about realizing that she was being systematically devalued each day, struck a chord with me. I’ve definitely heard the same from other women–the questioning your attractiveness and value, and the way that it chips away at your self-worth.
I’m also wondering about the impact of the articles on others. Will men of all shades assume that we’re so desperate to find love that we’ll accept anything? Will/do people in general blame us for our “failings” (i.e., the inability to get married)?
This letter resonated with me particularly because it points out the maddening factor in almost all of these articles — that black women are the problem. Not that the issue is complex. Not that there are multiple factors at play. Not that it’s simply hard for anyone of any race to find a mate, but that something is fundamentally wrong with black women for doing what most people do — seek a quality mate.
More after the jump.