The Root Interview: The Man Behind 'Black Marriage Negotiations'
He might be happily married, but Darroll Lawson was inspired to create his infamous viral video by what he considers to be single black women's relationship issues.
When a married father of three put together an animated video as a satirical take on what black women want out of a relationship, his modest hope was that it would bring a little traffic to his online radio show. He didn't anticipate that the three-minute YouTube clip, called "Black Marriage Negotiations," would garner nearly 500,000 views, spawn a number of copycats and turn into a flash point over the intensely sensitive topic of black marriage and relationships. Darroll Lawson, 40, an information-technology consultant living in Atlanta, created the video to drive traffic to his website, PhilosoG, where he and his friend Billy Briggs talk about "empowering men to empower families."
But since the launch last month of his animated video, which features a professional black woman ticking off a list of outrageous relationship requirements to a bewildered black man, Lawson says that he has received offers from Hollywood, been approached by ABC's The View and conducted interviews with Essence, radio host Tom Joyner and the Associated Press.
The attention has helped Lawson promote his show, and he hopes it will help him find a publisher for a book addressing the same issues confronted by his video. The Root spoke with Lawson about his inspiration, how his wife -- who is black -- reacted to the video and his thoughts on Tyler Perry's For Colored Girls.
The Root: How did you get the inspiration for the video, considering that you are happily married with three children?
Darroll Lawson: I was single and I was dating, and these are things that I heard. If you turn on popular media, there is a consistent message [of materialism]. Watch Chilli [of TLC on her VH1 dating show, What Chilli Wants] going through her outrageously irresponsible standards she had for a male. You have your Desperate Housewives, again material driven. A lot of that [materialism] doesn't end at "I do." In some cases it escalates. That mentality spills over into the marriage. The woman in my video, when she gets married, she's going to be that and then some.
TR: Are you working on a version of the video focused on men?
DL: The thing is, we've heard the narrative on that. There's no ammunition there. They're about to come out with a movie called For Colored Girls, and there's only one black male who's positively portrayed, and even then he's positively portrayed because he's in a position of submission to women's emotional changes.
TR: What was your wife's reaction to the video?
DL: She thought it was funny. But since then she's literally had to go to battle with her family -- her mother, her sister. I've been called a misogynist. On the good end, I've gotten a lot of support. Nothing in between -- people either love it or hate it.
TR: What about the women on your side of the family?
DL: The older, more wise and sage ones have said thank you for exposing the issue of the much maligned black male. My mother is obviously very supportive. But some were fairly angry. The ones who didn't think it related to them were fine with it; the ones it may have resonated with on some level took issue.
TR: In what spirit should black women take the video?