Are you ready to see better examples of Black relationships on television?
I was tinkering around online when I found a commercial for today’s episode of Dr. Drew’s “Lifechangers.” Not a show I usually pay attention to, but the number of Black faces on the panel, and the subject of the show -- Black men who don’t date Black women -- caught my attention.
In the quick, fifteen-second clip, I spotted a dejected Black woman, and a Black man yelling “I don’t like your attitude!” while pointing his finger in her face. The same man eventually has to be restrained by matchmaker and life coach (and ESSENCE.com blogger) Paul Carrick Brunson. Dr. Drew, the only White man on the panel observes of the men, “What you say is pretty shocking.”
Um… really, Dr. Drew?
Because nothing about this shocks me. I mean, maybe all this Black-on-Black hate is new to Dr. Drew, but the ‘I’m a Black man who doesn’t like women who look like my mother’ thing is “old like Methuselah,” as my mother would say. I’ve seen this story before, like fifteen years ago (or more), back before Oprah went all holistic.
What’s “pretty shocking” is that half my lifetime later, the conversation hasn’t evolved one iota, and there’s a group of men who are still wholly comfortable assigning certain characteristics to an entire group of women and thinking that it's totally rational. (I guarantee you these are the same men who will complain about police who racially profile, and think every Black man is a thug, drug dealer or otherwise wayward suspect.)
What’s also “pretty shocking” is that these men are newsworthy. They are wholly not representative of the vast majority of Black men, but still they get face time like they are. Fact: Eighty-eight percent of all Black men who are married, are married to Black women, according to a recent study by professors at Howard and Morehouse. (And it’s not just the broke or undesirable men -- eighty-three percent of married Black men with an income of more than $100,000 put a ring on a Black woman. Black men with college degrees also overwhelmingly marry Black women to the tune of 85%.)
Shows like this bother me. Yes, there are issues with Black relationships; I spend a good chunk of my day discussing them (and doling out advice on Formspring.me/abelleinbk). But there are also a lot of things right with our interactions, that like never ever, ever, ever get the shine they deserve in a national forum. But you’d never know that by tuning into most talk and news shows that pander to the lowest common denominator and exploit the pathologies of a minority segment in our community (for ratings).
You know, I’d like to find something “pretty shocking” too. And the best way to do that would be just to show me some regular ol’ Black folk talking about how they make relationships work. Actual Black love on daytime TV (or like any time of day TV)? I’d clutch the pearls -- and keep tuning in. Shock me. I’m ready. Please!
Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. She has recently been nominated for an African American Literary Award. Vote for her now on literaryawardshow.com