By Gian Fiero
In the movie I Think I Love My Wife, comedian and actor Chris Rock plays a sexually deprived husband and loving father who develops a crush on an old college friend that he bumps into (played by Kerry Washington). They start hanging out and his rekindled friendship with her awakens some romantic desires which create a disruption in both his marriage and his job.
When he becomes dizzy with lust and starts to lose his grip on his responsibilities at the prestigious investment firm for which he works, his boss has a heart-to-heart with him and delivers some profound advice: ‘You can lose a lot of money chasing women…but you can’t lose women chasing money.’
If only young black men would take heed to this advice as they are growing up. Such focus would prevent the underdevelopment of potential and values which cause them to go astray and seek validation in other ways.
Culturally, black boys (especially those who have modest or above average looks) hear how many girlfriends they are expected to have, how many hearts they are going to break, or what a ‘lady killer’ they are going to be before they learn to tie their own shoes.
With the seeds of distraction planted so early in their fertile minds, and predictions of being a future ‘heartbreaker,’ black boys formulate subconscious achievement motives that entail the validation, edification, and prioritization of babes.
The validation confirms that they do indeed appeal to the opposite sex. The edification is what allows them to elevate themselves above the male competitors in their age group; further allowing the boosting of the ego and feelings of self-worth. The prioritization is the rank of importance that they place upon the expenditure of time used in the pursuit and conquest of women.
Combined, they form the roots for many of the problems that plague black families. I call it the babes and babies syndrome: black men who are driven by the pursuit of babes and shun the responsibility of taking care of their babies in the process.
For many of these young boys who become young men who suffer from this syndrome, it’s hard to change their mentality. After all, if you are constantly asked how many girlfriends you have as you are growing up, it creates an unconscious expectation. Coupled with the fact that many of your peers are engaging in, and thereby endorsing the same behavior, our black teenage boys are more likely to get their player’s cards before receiving their library cards.
Despite the fact that friends and family members tell them to ‘settle’ down when they get older (now full-grown men), it takes time (and usually some drama) before they develop a sense of consciousness about their lecherous ways. It’s not that they can’t help it, they often simply don’t know how – especially after spending most of their lives as virile men whose self-worth and self-esteem is tied to the validation they receive from the sexual conquest of women.
Breaking habits and changing the way we think is a tremendous challenge for all of us, but for the players of the world, it’s exceptionally difficult. It doesn’t happen simply because they feel ‘it’s time,’ or because they feel like they’re ‘getting older,’ it happens when the conquest of babes no longer holds the allure, power, validation, or meaning that it once did. Then, and only then, can there be a true shift in values.
Some do make the successful transition from boys to men. They are the ones who either never bought into the ‘player’s mentality’ because they were guided or focused from an early age by parents, had off-setting values, or they played the field and their conscious made them change their ways; thus avoiding the babes and babies syndrome.
Those who cling to the predatory mentality of using women to build, feed, or sustain their egos well into their adulthood comprise the bulk of the perpetrators who contribute to the demise of the socioeconomic plight of today’s black families.
It’s a very serious problem.
How serious? SAVE AMERICA Ministries published A Portrait of the Black Family 2007: Descent into Destruction! in which the following statistics were documented:
-70of all black children are born out of wedlock.
-62of black families with children are headed by a single parent.
-85of black children do not live in a home with their fathers.
-Only 15-20of black children born today will grow up with 2 parents until age 16.
-70of African-American boys in the criminal justice system come from single-parent homes. -50of all new AIDS cases are in the Black community which comprises only 12of the population.
-85of all AIDS cases in Atlanta are black women.
-African-Americans are 20 times more likely than whites to have gonorrhea.
-AIDS is now the #1 killer of black women, age 25-44.
-67of black women with AIDS contracted HIV thru heterosexual sex.
-Black men in America engage in polygamous relationships, 3 1/2 times that of White or Hispanics.
-Nearly 2 million black males are either currently in a state or federal prison or have been in one.
-By age 30, only 52of black women will marry compared to 81of white women, 77of Hispanics and Asians.
James Flynn, whose claim to fame is his much discussed ‘Flynn Effect’ in which he documents the increase in black IQs by about 15 percent, published the following information which relates to the demise of black marriages in New Scientist.
Government statistics show that at birth there are 104 black boys for every 100 girls. Between ages 25 and 45, six more men than women are dead, leaving 98 men for every 100 women. Of these 98 men, nine are in jail, eight are missing and 21 are employed less than half-time.
That leaves 60 ‘promising’ black men – men who are alive, employed and not convicted felons. Also consider that promising black men living with a non-black partner outnumber white men with a black partner by three. That leaves only 57 black men for every 100 women in a position to be a permanent partner. Out of 100 black women, 43 face the choice of either having a child by a black man who is unlikely to settle down with them or going childless – assuming they (a) want to get married, and (b) want to have children.
That’s compelling information. Is it accurate? The wreckage that can be seen in fragmented black families which are headed by single mothers says that it is. Also, just witnessing the number of wayward black men who continue to celebrate their masculinity through procreation instead of through the active and full parent participation in the lives of their children, is further proof.
When black men can find significance and meaning in their lives internally they are less reliant on external circumstances for an ego boost, or to fill a void. They can find pride, peace, and salvation in the sanctity of marriage, and the joy of fatherhood if they choose to attach value to it.
Which brings me back to the movie I Think I Love My Wife.
Once Chris Rock’s character reveals his lust to his long lost friend, they agree to have a ‘good-bye fling’. He arrives at her place and continues to ponder his decision to go through with it. She opens the door wearing very revealing lingerie and effectively confirms his decision to go through with it. He catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror with his tie on his head and is reminded of his young daughter (who he is in a previous scene with playing affectionately). It’s a moment of reckoning for him. He reassembles himself and leaves without becoming another victim of the babes and babies syndrome.
Gian Fiero is an educator, speaker and consultant. He is affiliated with San Francisco State University as an adjunct professor, and the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) as a business advisor where he conducts monthly workshops on topics such as business development, career planning, public relations, and personal growth.