This sounds like a silly question to ask until you consider that black men seem to be almost non-existent in the lives of black women in film, on television, and most critically, from the lives of black women in real life from what’s being represented in the media and said in many past and current discussions on relationships. But, is this true? Let’s take a deeper look.
How does the media play into the proliferation of this narrative if at all? Rarely are we shown “black on black” images on television unless a crime is being committed or reported. Where is “black on black love” in mainstream media/entertainment? Did I just create another hashtag movement? Don’t worry, I’m not initiating a #BlackLoveMatters movement although it would be a huge marketing campaign for black Love and after all, love is still in need of love today just as it was when Stevie Wonder penned the song of the same name on his blockbuster album “Songs in The Key of Life” in 1976.
Is the absence of black men in the lives of black women on-screen art imitating life, life imitating art or the media using its power to influence our thoughts and perceptions in our daily lives? If the old adage is true, “A picture is worth 1,000 words”, how many words and impressions is motion picture worth? Unlike still images, our imagination is not needed to interpret what we’re viewing. Not only are we given moving images in the form of “motion picture”, we are given mood-altering music and other background cues that manipulate our emotions and thoughts to shape how we see the world around us and how we fit into it individually and collectively as a group. The conversation of the shrinkage of black men has been ongoing for years now and believe it or not, the media does wield great influence on its captive audience especially those who unwittingly mistake indoctrination for entertainment.
“Entertainment is the most subtle form of indoctrination.”
That which is viewed as “entertainment” is most often processed and received with little to no filter being labeled as “just entertainment” as though the inclusion of the word “just” as a prefix somehow acts to defuse the damage that cleverly chosen words and images transform into easily accepted ideologies. The viewer is subject to the impressions set forth by the intentions that emanate from the mind of the producer of the work for good, bad, or neutral.
Here’s an example of the subtle, intoxicating influence of (social) media. How many times have you seen someone post something like this on social media (see below)?
“IT IS OFFICIAL. IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS. FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING DUE TO THE NEW PROFILE CHANGES. IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL, YOUR ICON WILL TURN BLUE AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU. PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON. IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED IF YOU DO NOT PAY!”
One of my friends posted that message on his wall after having seen this message posted on the wall of someone else. He believed the message was true though he had no evidence to support its claim. It reinforces the idea that content is king albeit from a somewhat different angle. The fact that his icon did not turn blue like the message promised didn’t cause his faith to waver. It took me less than 5 minutes to search the internet to verify that this claim was patently false.
A simple post with little credence caused him to believe that what he read was true. How much are we influenced by constant images of relationships where black men are conveniently missing from relationships with black women? It leaves many questions unanswered. One very important question is why are black men missing? There are many reasons given with many myths among them.
Black Men Choosing Only Non-black Women
This unsubstantiated myth often comes up in conversations about the availability of viable black men for black women that want a black man. Let me be clear for the purpose of proper context. This segment is to address the belief that black men date/marry non-black women in such high percentages that it greatly reduces the number of black men that are available for black women that want them. This is a response to that belief and not an argument against interracial dating. Below is an excerpt from an article with the findings of researchers, Dr. Ivory A. Toldson (Howard University) and Bryant Marks (Morehouse College) that addresses this claim with facts and not emotions, opinions, or limited subjective experiences.
Black men drop black women as soon as they reach a certain level of success, don’t they? While plenty of rap stars, athletes and musicians may choose to date or marry interracially when they achieve fame, the same is not true for the bulk of successful black men. By analyzing census data Toldson and Marks found that 83 percent of married black men who earned at least $100,000 annually got hitched to black women. The same is the case for educated black men of all incomes. Eighty-five percent of black male college graduates married black women. Generally, 88 percent of married black men (no matter their income or educational background) have black wives. This means that interracial marriage should not be held responsible for the singleness of black women. (To read the entire article, follow the link. http://racerelations.about.com/od/diversitymatters/a/Four-Myths-About-Black-Marriage.htm
The black population in Hollywood and sports is miniscule compared to the total population of blacks in general. If one looks to Hollywood for an accurate sample of black male/female relationships, they will only get a false read based upon the small percentage of blacks there compared to the whole. The numbers provided by the research above were not limited to the very small percentage of black men in the limelight of the entertainment world, which is a much smaller world than the majority live in.
It is desperately important to see healthy images of black men and black women in loving relationships alongside the other male/female relationships prominently represented on the big and small screen as well as off screen in real life. Imagine looking in the mirror and not seeing your own reflection or worse only seeing the reflection of someone else. The rainbow has many colors and none of them are without significance. Even a child’s box of crayons has multiple colors. Each color has significance singularly and as part of the entire collective. Every shade adds another spectrum of beauty to the whole. Not seeing one’s self will affect an individual’s self image. The absence of black men for loving, committed relationships with black women is the equivalent of a subliminal inference that that black men are indeed inadequate. Those outside the group are affected by the absence of the black male/female pairing as well. The value they place on the normalcy they experience in their relationships cannot be shared with a group they don’t see sharing in the same relationships. Their worldview is shaped by the world they live inside of. Those whose world mirrors their own are also seen as normal. For better or worse, without evil intentions or ill-will, this is the nature of socialization.
The Good News
Black men are not obsolete. More importantly, good black men still exist that actually desire loving relationships that lead to marriage. Sadly, this is very hard for some ladies to fathom. Their prior experiences with dishonorable men have resulted in greatly lowered expectations for future relationships. They expect the worst from men because they have experienced the worst in men. The first chapter in my latest book, “Out-Dated: Rethinking How Men Date Women” is entitled “Exit Wounds” which deals with properly addressing the wounds incurred when exiting failed relationships before entering into new relationships. To their own peril, some buy into the old adage “The best way to get over an old man is to get under a new one.” That option is never a good choice. It’s only a costly deferment that will undoubtedly have compounding consequences later.
“History repeats itself when you do.”
The repeating of prior actions that yielded unfavorable results is a guaranteed “history lesson” waiting to be taught.
The commonality that may exist among the men in past relationships speaks more to bad choices in men than an indication that all men are the same. That’s not a statement to indict any woman who has made a poor choice. There is work that must be done on both sides between men and women. We must begin to live and operate from a place of abundance instead of a place of scarcity wherein lies only fear, insecurity, and beliefs that breed thoughts of the obsolescence of good black men. We do exist and without a date of expiration.