Bound by ‘The Denzel Principle’?

An excerpt from the racy, newly published book by Jimi Izrael brazenly lays out the unrealistic expectations that black women have for black men. Ladies, proceed with caution.


Jimi Izrael, a longtime contributor to The Root, has never been shy about his expressing controversial opinions on this site and elsewhere about a wide range of topics, including the relationships between black men and women. Presuming that his fans can’t get enough, he has now translated his views on women into book form. The Denzel Principle: Why Black Women Can’t Find Good Black Men was published earlier this month by St. Martin’s Press. In it, Izrael argues, among other things, that black women are setting impossibly high standards in their quest for a mate.

Several women on our staff wanted us to make clear that publishing an excerpt on The Root in no way indicates that we support, agree or even consider rational Jimi’s musings on such an important and sensitive topic. On behalf of the men, I would like to add this plea: “We all can’t be Denzel.”

—Joel Dreyfuss, The Root’s managing editor

For a vigorous debate on these issues involving Jimi Izrael, columnist Helena Andrews and culture editor Teresa Wiltz, listen to The Confab here.


The thing is, some black women say they have trouble finding the right guy, but the truth is some of them manage to find a new one every night, and word gets around. Or they find great guys—legitimately good brothers with jobs, benefits and all their own teeth—and stay happy for about 15 minutes. Then they wear them out emotionally (rarely sexually), get bored, step out of the relationship and throw the proverbial dice in hopes of an upgrade. This becomes routine, and they end up spending their golden years with 50 cats and 150 ceramic collectibles, trying to lure the mailman inside with a plate of food.

Now, men get a lot of the blame for destroying the black family because conventional wisdom suggests that they spend all their time beating up women, shooting dice late into the night, stealing watermelon from Ofay The Farmer and being generally useless and unmarriageable.  And let’s be honest: There are a lot of brothers out there fucking up, but not nearly as many as you think. Normally, those brothers wear their crazy on their sleeves. You can see—and often times smell them—from the curb. Women tend to mask their crazy with lipstick, perfume, Apple Bottom Jeans and such. Men aren’t as smart as women about these kinds of things, and often don’t know what they’re getting into.

That said, the thing is, I know brothers aren’t responsible for the high divorce rate because we aren’t that particular. Men are not complicated creatures and don’t ask for much. All we want is a woman to work, cook, clean and maybe give up a lil’ booty on our birthday. Sisters think they aren’t asking for the world by just looking for a man to meet their minimum standards. But their minimum is either the bare minimum or over the top. I know, because I see it all the time: Black women jumping from knucklehead to knucklehead, chump to chump, hoping to get it right next time by consistently choosing from the bottom. They are in the Internet chat rooms, wearing tight dresses to Big Butt Nite at Club 75 and outside penitentiary gates on parole day waiting to pounce on anything with a pulse.