Relationships expert Lauren Lake responds to the recent negative attention to the state of Black marriage and the single Black female, saying don't believe the hype. Black love is most definitely alive and well.
Last night during our weekly trip to Whole Foods, my husband, Carlos Woods--an NFL defensive coach--told me that one of his defensive linemen jokingly referred to us as "The Huxtables," and the whole locker room roared with laughter. We laughed about it too, and then promptly got back to business refining our grocery list because Lord knows Whole Foods can eat up your whole paycheck.
But somewhere between the fresh produce section and the cereal aisle, it dawned on me what a compliment that comment really was. If my husband and I are even a fraction of the example of Black love, commitment and marriage that Cliff and Claire were on "The Cosby Show," I consider it an honor. In the NFL, where many Black players and coaches choose to marry women of other races, I am proud that my husband and I are living proof to the team's young African-American men that Black love and marriage is still going strong.
Don't believe the hype. The statistics will tell you that Black love is practically extinct; that Black men and women can't get along; that Black men won't commit; that the more successful a Black woman is the less likely she is to be married. These kinds of stats will drive even an optimist to plan a pity-party alone with the Patron. Note to self: statistics are not laws, prophecies or decrees, nor can they predict your destiny.
If you use media portrayals, music videos and reality television programming as your visual measuring stick regarding the state of Black love and marriage, it's not surprising your perspective is bleak. Face it, you've been bamboozled. Hoodwinked by the hype. These accounts too often take the worse possible scenarios and drench them with sensationalized scare-tactics all for ratings, sales and entertainment value.
There are plenty of examples of Black love and marriage living out loud all around us. Some of the most visible would be President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Bill and Camille Cosby, Denzel and Pauletta Washington, and Will and Jada Smith. Even in the world of hip-hop, we have Jay-Z and Beyonce, Ice Cube and his wife Kim, and Snoop Dogg and Shante, just to name a few.
In my own life I am surrounded by many examples of Black love, from my father and step-mom, to my pastor and his wife. I also have aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family who have all been blessed by wonderful, sustained unions. Yes, and even though I have girlfriends who are still single and navigating their way through life and love, I have equally as many young black successful girlfriends who are happily married to wonderful Black men.
If you look around and have no examples of beautiful Black love in your life, I dare say that it says more about you than it does about Black love. How many times do we have to be reminded that our thoughts and our words shape our realities? If we're all running around thinking and speaking in lack, we can't be surprised if we are living in lack. I encourage women to step outside of their comfort zones when it comes to love, dating and marriage. Many of us have become too comfortable in a "glass half empty" mentality. At some point you must decide to see the glass half full. Surround yourself with believers. For those of us who are blessed to still believe, participate in, strive for, survive and thrive in Black love, we invite you to witness our world where cups runneth over.
Want some examples of Black love? Take a look at the four loving couples competing in this year's Will You Marry Me? contest
Lauren Lake is the author of "Girl! Let Me Tell You...Advice and Life and Love For Single Successful Women."