One topic seems to be glaringly absent from the discourse about black women’s marriage prospects and that topic is love.
By: Ms. Loveessence
It seems as if the media is trying to tell us that an educated black woman has a better chance of being struck by lightening while cashing-in a winning lottery ticket than finding a mate. “An Interracial Fix for Black Marriage”, “Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?”, “Black Women See Fewer Black Men at the Altar” and “Marriage Eludes High-Achieving Black Women” are just some of the headlines that have assaulted black women’s optimism recently. But there seems to be one obviously missing topic in the discussions that have ensued: love. Where are the discussions about love in the black community? Where are the discussions about how black women should look for love or how black women should define love?
Some black women’s empowerment blogs urge black women to date white men in particular and non-black men generally because of the lack of “good black men”. These blogs cite black men’s high rates of incarceration, low rates of college education and black men’s culture of entitlement. These arguments have gained new strength from academia in light of Professor Richard Bank’s book “Is Marriage for White People?” which discusses the bleak statistics with respect to black men. Further, the book posits that if more black women opened themselves to the possibility of marrying non-black men they might find themselves in better relationships while lessening the high black women to black men ratio that depresses African-American marriage rates. Again, where is the in-depth discussion about how black women or how people generally search for and define love?
It is because of the lack of a genuine discussion about love that these “date interracially” arguments ring as hollow to me now as they did four years ago when I was single and searching for a husband. As an individual black woman looking for a marriage partner I did not care about prison and educational statistics, nor did I care about sacrificing my own preferences for the sake African-American marriage rates. I cared about fulfilling my personal dream of finding the love of my life. Sadly, for many of my dating years I thought that I could find love by holding tightly to long lists about what I wanted in a spouse. I thought about his height, his race, his skin-tone, his ethnicity, his religion, his profession, and his income. Many of my girlfriends embarked on similar approaches. We all laughed hysterically at the “Black Marriage Negotiations” video that went viral, because to a certain extent, we were staring at an animated version of our former selves. Back then, our long lists of what we wanted in men rivaled the lists of our fancy degrees and other accolades.
But most of us are married now and the journey that we took to love consisted of ripping up our lists and focusing on the kind, and quality of the love that we wanted in our lives. I personally sought inspiration from greats like Iyanla Vanzant, Deepak Chopra, and Wayne Dyer who challenged me to ask myself “what kind of love do I want?”.
Instead of obsessing over height, race, ethnicity, skin-tone, degrees, and salaries my friends and I began meditating on a kind of love that consisted of genuine friendship, passionate love-making, intelligent conversations, mutual support and or shared spirituality. For some of us, this new journey led us to wonderful white, Asian, or other non-black men. For most of us it led us to great black men (great black men are out there) who we had somehow overlooked when we had been focusing on checking off boxes. But for all of us, it led to an enriching marital and family life that we would not trade for anything.
Our evolved approach enabled us to build marriages that are based on fulfilling love visions, and those love visions help us adapt to ever-changing gender roles.
When our husbands think of the type of love that they want they think of the fact that we nurture and support them and not about the fact that we are not home at 5:00pm each day to make dinner and clean the house. Additionally, we think of our husbands as the most important adults in our lives because of the emotional comfort that they give us and not because our husbands are the breadwinners. A renewed focus on the kind of quality of love that we want is what is needed in this country, as evidenced by ever-climbing divorce rates. But it is especially needed in the black community due to the crisis with respect to black marriage and the drastic changes in gender roles among black men and women.
I would encourage black women to re-focus on the quality of the love that they want and not the race, skin-tone, height, salary, and other demographic characteristics of potential mates. Also, it would be great if the mainstream media would engage in similarly productive discussions about love in the black community instead of re-producing depressing articles that leave black women asking “what about love?”.
Ms. Loveessence is the co-founder of loveessence.com, a romantic networking site for black women who are ready for love and all men who are ready to love them in return. She is a frequent contributor to loveandtheblackwoman.blogspot.com. She is also a wife and mother.