Thursday, April 22, 2010

Successful Black Women... You Mad??

Last night, I was lurking around on Twitter when I started to notice a few people commenting on ABC Nightline's latest special entitled, "Why Can't a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?" Provocative title, but it's nothing we as black people haven't already discussed ad nauseum. I was watching the NBA Playoffs, so I didn't bother to switch channels, but after I saw some outstanding responses from a number of people on twitter, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. So I logged onto Nightline's website to check the special out for myself.

Personally, I found the special to be well done, and felt that there were a lot of things discussed that weren't a part of the usual discussion on this topic. For one, I especially liked the point Hill Harper made about black men and women failing to be each other's friends. He argued that much of the disconnect between genders come from a lack of communication. When women get man advice from other women and men get woman advice from other men, everybody ends up being misinformed.

I also enjoyed Steve Harvey's point that many successful black women refuse to date men that aren't on the same social level that they're on, but they fail to realize that they are often the key piece that a man needs to get to that level. Harper repeatedly talked about dating a man for his potential as opposed to dating a man for what he currently has, and I'm not sure if the women on the panel ever really grasped what he meant at the end of the night.

Above all, I believe that the best point raised came at the end of the night from a woman in the audience. She basically made the point that it's impossible to be a great wife, a great mother and a successful businesswoman all at the same time, and the reason these women are struggling is because they are fervently trying to do something outside the realm of reality. I enjoyed her quote so much, in fact, that I made it my Facebook status (which led to some interesting feedback). The woman also went on to say that as a single professional with a daughter, she knows it's impossible for her to pursue a serious relationship until her daughter goes to college, because she doesn't have the time to give a man what he truly needs. In my opinion, it was the most poignant moment of the night.

The obvious question is, of course, why is this so difficult for women to understand? Why can't they grasp that these are three extremely difficult tasks that are almost impossible to perform at a high level simultaneously? And it's not like I'm saying that the task is only difficult for females, since most uber-successful businessmen are forced to make significant sacrifices to their personal lives as well. For those that actually are married with children, there is no guarantee that they aren't rotten husbands and fathers.

Perhaps the answer to that question can best be answered by another comment that was made by a different female in the audience. She said that when people say "why can't a successful black woman find a man?" the sentence is accusatory and it makes black women defensive because people are telling them they can't do something. The fact of the matter is, marriage and children are often more important to women than they are to men. So yes, the question is more often posed with a female slant. But to think that you can be a super parent, a super spouse, and a super CEO all at the same time is a little lofty. As my friend Johnson pointed out, "What's up nowadays with people's quest for perfection? All this is saying is, you cannot be perfect." There's nothing offensive about that.

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