What Single Women Can Learn From Michelle
Would most Type A, professional women have dated Barack when he was a broke, big-eared organizer with a funny name?
My single friends and I mingle at events dubbed PandoraandEquilibrium, or with long acronyms about political engagement or the black community, where open bars and soul food buffets are the draw but really not the purpose. I will often identify a black man who “someone should be dating” and talk him upto a female friend, colleague or neighbor, offering descriptors like: Funny. Laid-back. Attractive. And more honest ones like: Ambitious. Shy. Soft but not fat.
Just as I picked at the less-than-cool undercurrents of that presidential pickup game and talk-show dance party, my female friends home in on the negative as they snub my suggestions.
His toes were ashy.
He seems like he’d be a really cool friend, but I don’t know, those lips. . .
He was wearing a bubble coat, and seriously, it was not that cold.
We had a good conversation, but I like a man to be more aggressive.
That was our second and last date. He used the word “authentic” like 14 times.
How many times do I have to tell you I’m looking for someone TALL and HOT? Keywords being tall and hot.
He drank a hot chocolate instead of coffee. What is he? A 6’4’’12-year-old?(I’m putting myself out there—this was my own reaction to an otherwise pleasant date just a few years ago.)
In these comments are echoes of my conversations in mini-communities of black professionals—at brunches, bar-passing celebrations and housewarming parties. I think of my years at Harvard Law School, which has 150 black students at any given time. One would have thought that the Black Law Students Association was a group of first cousins; dating among members was so unusual and so scandalous when it did occur. In these “professional” contexts, women are shaking with one hand and tossing men right into the friend zone with another. Across the country and over the years, the take-away often has the same theme: There was not a single guy there I would date.
Yeah, he was tall, but his head seemed a little small for his body.
It was loud in there, so I’m not sure. Did I detect a stutter?
Boy, was he sweating!
He seems like someone who would like Star Trek.
I don’t care if he can’t see. He should have left those glasses at the office.
He was dancing (or worse, trying) way too hard.
I don’t mean to minimize the statistics that are the baseline explanation for black women’s dating difficulties. They’re so distressing that last year CNN dedicated an entire segment of Black in America to the dilemmas of successful black women in dating and marriage.The Journal of Higher Education published statistics last year showing that less than a third of black males who enroll in college graduate within six years, and that black women outnumber black men in higher-education settings by 2:1. Between 1970 and 2001, the marriage rate for black men and women fell by 34 percent, versus 17 percent for the rest of the nation. The most recent Census Bureau figures show only 70 single black men for every 100 single black women. And those 70 men are not necessarily available—the figure includes single men who are incarcerated. The same survey showed that 45 percent of black women have never been married, compared with 23 percent of white women.
The idea that things are hard for black women who want to date black men who match us in academic and career success is a well-worn cultural narrative.