BET’s Being Mary Jane is one of my favorite new shows, but it's debut also continued common myths about successful Black women and their perpetual dating woes. The great majority of my Black female friends are married. I get tired of hearing that this study or that expert said Black women are predestined to be single and alone, particularly the successful ones.
In separate, recent conversations with a Jewish friend, an Asian friend and a Caucasian friend (all female) each of them talked about how hard dating is for them too. And, how the majority of their friends are unmarried (or divorced). The common thread amongst them is not race, but socio-economic status and geography, I find.
The truth is Mary Jane isn’t just Black. She is white, Asian, Latina; you name it. And, you will find single, successful women of all races who live in big cities. To be successful, according to the prevailing materialist based definition of the word, takes extreme focus. Whatever you focus your energy on grows, and vice versa. The friends I was speaking with are all at the top of the game in their respective careers and relationships have often taken a back seat to their professional lives.
But, I am not debating the validity of the cause and effect of why many successful women are single. Instead, I am challenging this prevailing notion that it’s just Black women. On television and in the media other women can seemingly have it all, but not Black women. I think that does an injustice to our collective thinking about Black women, especially for Black women themselves.
It is ironic that we monitor what our children consume in media, music, news and entertainment but then aren’t as diligent about our own consumption. I think at some point it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – you are what you eat. If you are consistently being bombarded with images of the lonely Black woman who just has degrees and bank accounts to keep her warm, then it is impossible for that not to infiltrate your psyche on some level.
One of my other favorite shows, Sex & the City portrayed four women in their thirties who started off all single. But, it was a different kind of single. They were not only successful, but they were also having fun living it up in New York City. Their single wasn’t sad and alone. Every episode introduced a new love escapade for each of them and they seemingly had endless choices. The biggest issue for Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte was the choosing.
The problem, however, is not television programming, as I am one of the biggest defenders of creative license. It becomes an issue when the so-called news magazines and papers validate this myth with articles that propose to tell the truth, when in fact, the truth is it’s not just the Black girls who are single and looking for love.
Wishing you love and ceaseless joy!
Nathan’s book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World is available now.