Black Women and Good Stereotypes

The uproar over a viral video spoofing black women's relationship requirements perpetuates stereotypes -- but could that be a good thing?


When I clicked on the link to watch the “Black Marriage Negotiations” video that’s been invading inboxes and Facebook walls over the past week, I was expecting to see something funny. Not just because the subject line said something like, “LOL!!! YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS,” but also because marriage has always been a good source of comedy in the black community. Think back to Clair and Cliff Huxtable in The Cosby Show, Roc and Eleanor in Rock, or Martin and Gina from Martin (who I know weren’t married for the majority of the show, but let’s not get into semantics); the marriages we saw on-screen made us laugh at some point.

But when I watched the clip and saw an animated black businesswoman sitting across a conference table from a black businessman, ticking off an extensive list of demands, I didn’t laugh. I just kind of smiled and said, “True.” Then I went on with the rest of my day.

Obviously I didn’t think the video was LOL-worthy, but that’s not to say I was offended. Nor was I disturbed. I just thought it was one of those videos that smart black people pass around to one another as a way to laugh at themselves instead of the Antoine Dodsons of the world (to say nothing of that man’s intelligence and savvy), and I was just one of the smart black people who didn’t find it funny. But to my surprise, a lot of people did laugh out loud, and ever since its premiere on YouTube, “Black Marriage Negotiations” is far and away the most viewed video in a series of satirical animated shorts about the black dating world.