Single Black Women under Attack: The Timeline
Dating prospects of SBW becomes national news
Historically, mainstream media outlets have paid little to no attention to the dating habits of Black people, much less Black women. So when article after article came out about how difficult it was for single Black women (SBW), particularly successful Black women, to find a suitable mate, Black women everywhere took it personal. Why the sudden attention? To accompany the stories there were the depressing statistics telling us that 46% of single Black women were unmarried and had little prospect of getting married, compared to 23% of White women. For the past seven months several national news outlets have placed front and center stories of SBW and their dating woes. Here’s a timeline of how it all unfolded.
Nov 19, 2009: Newsweek article: SBW should take cues from “Princess and the Frog”
In a short piece that was presumably meant to be about the Disney movie, “The Princess and the Frog” Newsweek writer Allison Samuels calls attention to the amount of Black women who are unlikely to see the alter (47% in her estimation) because of the number of Black men who are incarcerated and/ or marrying outside their race (14%). “With those numbers, I say it’s time for many Black women to start thinking, and acting, like Tiana,” said Samuels. Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates called Smauels’ suggestion “marriage advice premised on a kind of racial revenge.”
Dec 10, 2009: Washington Post article on SBW
The Washington Post profiled “Bitch is the New Black” author Helena Andrews about “successful but lonely young Black women.” “Andrews documents the lives of so many young Black women who appear to have everything: looks, charm, Ivy League degrees, great jobs…And yet they are lonely,” said the article.
Dec 25, 2009: “Nightline” airs segment on SBW
Perhaps taking a cue from the Washington Post article, ABC “Nightline” quickly followed with a segment profiling the type “successful but lonely young Black women” described in the article. An ABC reporter spoke with women from Atlanta about the difficulties of being a professional Black women in search of love. By the weekend the video had generated 20,000 hits of Youtube. “If I could, I would climb under a rock. That’s the only logical way I can think of to avoid the onslaught of articles, primetime TV segments, books, and countless blog discussions lamenting “The Black Man Shortage.” retorted ESSENCE Relationships Editor Demetria L. Lucas. “Why are women who are hued like me always trotted out for national viewing as lonely (and sometimes desperate), with the not so subliminal subtext that Black men just can’t show no act right?”
Feb 25, 2010: WaPo article urges SBW to date outside race
WaPo followed up with a piece about how Black women are being encouraged to enter into interracial relationships through the media (Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad By Myself” for instance). They also touted the book “Don’t Bring Home a White Boy: And Other Notions That Keep Black Women From Dating Out,” by Karyn Langhorne Folan. “Black women are in market failure,” said Langhorne Folan. “The solution is to find a new market for your commodity. And in this case, we are the commodity and the new market is men of other races.”
Mar 5, 2010: “An uneven playing field for Black women” declares NYT
The New York Times “Freakonmics” blog ran a story examining findings from online dating site showing that Black women were 20% less likely to get a reply from possible suitors (including African-American men). The blog calls the statistics “depressing” and concludes that SBW’s have an “uphill battle.”
Feb 22, 2010: TIME article: Black women “disproportionately snubbed by men of all races.”
TIME magazine joins in on the online dating conversation by examining the same OKCupid study. It concludes that when it comes to online romance, “Black women will be disproportionately snubbed by men of all races.”
Apr 21,2010: Nightline “Face-off” pits SBW against Black Men
“Nightline” returns with part two of it’s SBW coverage. This time it’s a face-off between Black men and women to answer the question: “Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find A Man?” Relationship guru, Steve Harvey, actor Hill Harper, comedienne Sherri Shepherd and Jacquie Reid are just a few of the panelists weighing in on the debate.
Jun 3, 2010: NYT article: SBW are seeing less marriageable Black men
The New York Times returns to the SBW “dilemma” with a front-page story on how fewer Black men are saying “I do” to Black men. The story generates blog posts with the same refrain: again? An NYT commenter sums up what many SBW are feeling: "Would you please stop with the “nobody wants Black women” articles? It’s getting old."