Single-Minded: On Steve Harvey and Advice That We Don’t Need

Enough with the self-help books telling single ladies that they need to fix themselves to get a man. We don't need fixing. And news flash: Some of us actually love being single.

Getty Images
Getty Images

This week, I’m headed to a forum and a face-off to discuss the problem with black women.

Problem is that there is no problem.

See, the problem with hard-working, hilarious, sometimes haughty, successful, sexy, and yes, single, young black women is that they don’t have a problem at all. Because problems get answered. They go away. They need solving.

I mean, I’m single. (Obviously.) So are many (but not all) of my friends. We’re all single ladies in our mid- to late-20s, all of us consummate career women and all currently without a husband. And when we get together for our Friday night huddles, there’s one persistent thought bubble floating above us: We are happy.

But this isn’t a triumphant against-all-odds tale of love found at the top of the ladder. It won’t be a column of gender-bending advice on how to act like a man but think like a lady, or a breaking news report on the latest doomsday data that says every black women with a career will end up with only a corps de cats to keep them warm.

“I’m tired of the world trying to fix us,” says Jamilah Lemieux. Jamilah is something of a Twitter-celebrity, with nearly 4,000 followers logging into her hourly musings on everything from Kwanzaa to her love of the ’90s as an era. “You want to fix full-grown women who have passion, careers and ideals?”

A few months ago Jamilah met me at her favorite margarita slingers in Northwest Washington. She was in town to visit her alma mater, Howard University, and speak to teen-aged girls about love, relationships and smart choices. Lemieux is strikingly tall with HD-quality skin and antennas for eyelashes. Her curls, the color of black ink, are a lovely counter to the notion that hair is something to be tamed. At 25, Jamilah might know more about what she wants than some women twice her age. She explodes confidence.

“I wouldn’t want to be living for someone else right now because I have so much living to do for myself,” Jamilah explained. She told me she’d like to get married between the ages of 30 to 35, but isn’t sitting back and just waiting for it to happen.

In what she calls a concerted attempt to tap into the woman a man would want to bring home, Jamilah lost nearly 60 pounds in the last two years. She works out regularly. She smells nice.  “I’m going to be the best me,” she explained. She hasn’t found anyone that she’s really into as of late. And she’s OK with that.

So what would Hill Harper, Steve Harvey and Jimi Izrael, authors of The Conversation, Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man, and The Denzel Principle respectively, have to say about Jamilah? All three men have made it their business to solve the problem of the single black woman in some way or another. Let’s talk about it, one says. Lower your standards, says another. And don’t forget to guard your cookies, warns the third.