Why Are ‘Frustrated’ Black Men in Brazil?

A film about African-American men seeking women fuels debate about the state of black relationships.

“Women [in Brazil] are more caring [of men] and respect them as men,” one guy said. “It has nothing to do with how much they make. It has nothing to do with anything else other than just being a man.”

Somehow these guys have convinced themselves that their Americanness, which drips off of any tourist, and the benefit of the exchange rate between the Brazilian real and the American dollar have nothing to do with all the love that a middle-aged man well past his prime can receive from very young and exceptionally attractive Brazilian women. And that is when I laughed, loud and hearty, at the screen, and said to the friend watching with me, “These men are delusional.”

America’s economy may be in the toilet, but in some places — not Europe — a dollar still goes a long way. A plainly average American man in the right place — e.g., Rio — can party like a rock star with his boys and entertain a harem of young, pretty ladies without putting a significant dent in the budget.

Let us not pretend that, just as there are American women who are attracted to “ballers,” or men who give the appearance of such, the same does not exist in Rio. Let us also not pretend that some of the women whose company these men enjoy are paid sex workers, an occupation in which stroking egos and, ahem, other things are part of the job performance. How much money they spend, even if it’s not considered a lot to other Americans, has everything to do with it.

That the American dollar goes so much further is a prominent factor in why these men get rock-star treatment in Brazil. They would receive a much different — and, to be clear, less warm reception — if prices in Brazil went up. In fact, when they did, black men switched locations, heading to the Dominican Republic to pseudo-floss instead, which Essence also covered, in 2010.

For all the complaints the men had about building relationships with black American women, it didn’t go unnoticed that none of the men featured — not 1 in 10 — reported having a wife, girlfriend or significant other of any kind. Nor did they have much luck with Brazilian women. The only man who referred to his relationship status said he was “single.” So … you can’t build relationships at “home,” and you travel 6,000 miles from home and still … nothing?

What America and Brazil (or, now, America and the Dominican Republic) have in common is the man who’s doing the traveling. The problem isn’t the women he encounters — it’s him! Either he doesn’t want a relationship or he is clueless about how to sustain one. Neither of those traits is the fault of the black American women he’s dated, so I wish these guys would stop scapegoating them to justify their international sexcapades.

Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor to The Root, a life coach and the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. Follow her on Twitter.

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