Looking For My 'Barak' - The Root Examines if Black Women Can 'Catch' the Ideal Man

BlogHer Original Post

Recently The Root.com posted two very interesting commentaries about the state of black relationships in the post-Obama era. The first, written by Jeneé Desmond-Harris argues that one of the reasons why 45% of black women are unmarried, versus 23% of white women, is because black women are too picky. Using the example of the apparent mismatch of the union of Michelle and Barack Obama, Desmond-Harris believes that Michelle must have deliberately chosen to look beyond President Obama's social ineptitude's and questionable class status in order to see his potential:

She must have focused on an abundance of goodness instead of his hint of goofiness and fixated on a warm smile instead of a pair of oversized ears. It’s easy to see now that he was a great catch, but how many of us would have been open to this guy who strayed so far from the black Prince Charming ideal, starting with his very name?

Later in the article, Desmond-Harris gives examples of how black women nitpick over alleged imperfections to the point that they overlook the potential that can lie underneath the surface:

The point is simple. Given the numeric and historical facts, those of us who do seek to have relationships with black men of similar circumstances might need to open up a little. That doesn’t mean giving up on attraction. Attraction cannot be faked or forced. But we must start to question our assumptions about what our ideal really is.

The first commenter on this post said this:

Wake up and smell the coffee, Black woman: You are competing with a younger opened minded generation of Black woman and women of other races. Stop being so picky, recognize the competition, and look at the good vs. the bad in men.

This week writer David Swerdlick, while partly agreeing with Desmond-Harris, added an interesting observation. Maybe black women should stop trying to find 'their' Barak Obama. Stop being (he doesn't say this so bluntly) - a golddigger. Using an example from the original commentary of a woman being turned off because a potential suitor chose Hot Chocolate over coffee he suggests not to focus on trivial issues as to what they can potentially do for you:

We’ll do what we have to do to get your phone number, but in case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a recession going on. If you start sizing up a man for all he’s worth right now, you’re letting him know up front that if things get too far, he’s on the hook for a three-karat rock and a mortgage on a beach house in Oak Bluffs. And if he knows that already, he might flee. 

Now, up until recently, I never fully acknowledged the power of the image of a successful black couple meant to the general public until seeing grownwomen on the verge of tears when talking about the emotional significance of seeing an attractive and successful black couple rise to a political and social prominence in society, something that they never imagined would happen in their lifetime. But Swerdlick also raises an issue that those in black populations would say are ' fighting words:'

And know your own limitations, ladies. I mean, you’re intelligent and sexy and all, but unless you’re a female equivalent to the Dos Equis guy—the most interesting woman in the world who smells like Chanel No. 5 24 hours a day—accept the possibility that it’ll take more than pilates and a master’s degree to snag the next Barack Obama. 

Unfortunately, both these commentaries signify an even more problematic situation that arises when writers delve into the shark-filled waters of discussing black relationships: the blame game.

Reacting to both commentaries, Tami from What Tami Said said this: 

Conversations about heterosexual black relationships seem always about what black women need to do better. And now there seems to be a popular new class of dating article bearing the message: "Don't go thinking you are worthy of a man like Barack Obama."

Danielle from The Black Snob has an issue with Desmond-Harris's take on whether a woman would - or should - be turned off at a 'funny sounding' name:

If names were an issue, no black people would be dating anyone. Everyone born from the 1970s on either knows someone, loves someone or has some form of an African, Muslim, African-American made up fancy-pants name. I was the only Danielle I knew growing up, but I knew about 15 Keishas and God knows how many Hakeems, Dantes and Dontrelles. Barack wouldn't have caused most folks to blink any more than a guy named Kenyatta.

Raving Black Lunatic believes that Desmond-Harris's article was accurate, that black women's quest for manly, aggressive qualities and men who have the educational and career pedigrees that they find signify quality, usually do not go hand-in hand:

In fact, if black women only had the the aforementioned qualities along with some basic additions like honesty, intelligence and maturity on their wishlists for potential mates, well black folks would be marrying like Mormons. Unfortunately that ain't life.

Tami also raises an interesting point. When these issues are discussed, no one seems to question why black men are never taken to task about what  she says are "unrealistic beauty standards." This might be a bit off topic, but I found this blog, Beautiful Black Woman - Thoughts From a White B'woy in my Google search, created by a Swedish dude who seems to think that he is doing a humanitarian service for black women. Tell me what you think.


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