The rise of the basketball, football, hip hop, and "real" housewives phenomenon on various television programs has been simultaneous accompanied by articles, television specials, and books relentlessly touting the mantra of there being a shortage of "good black men". Statistics such as nearly 40 percent of black women have never been married and 72 percent of black children are born to single mothers are trotted out consistently to bolster these claims. There is no doubt that a significant number of black men are incarcerated and a disproportionate number of the ones that are not suffer from educational and employment deficits that can be attributed to a number of internal and external causes. However, it is worth contemplating how much the myth of the shortage of "good black men" creates a self-fulfilling prophecy where perception morphs into a reality for single black women.
Additionally, in the same way that the influence of certain segments hip hop music (not all) is considered in some quarters to have a net detrimental effect on young black men; similar questions have to be posed in relation to the effect of the "housewives" phenomenon on young and highly impressionable black women. Many youth consume hip hop or rap music throughout the day and night and there is no doubt that the messages they hear in the music and images that they see in music videos play a major role in how they conduct themselves. A recent example of this sort of mentality revolves around the highly talented Miami based rapper, Rick Ross. Ross almost had his rap career destroyed because it was revealed that he used to be a correctional officer. Having a legitimate job destroyed the persona of a drug kingpin that he had built for himself. These negative aspects of hip-hop culture need to be discussed and disarmed on a daily basis because a large segment of the younger generation (myself included) listens to hip hop music on a consistent basis.
They very same can be said as it pertains to the consumption of the season after season of different "housewives" shows. The young men who are groomed to have a "money over everything" mentality epitomize hyper-superficiality and instant gratification have a generation of young women who are being directly and indirectly encouraged to select their mates based primarily on what the person has financially and materially as opposed to who the person is on the inside. The result has been a large segment of the same black women who are profiled on numerous television specials about the "lack of good black men" relentlessly chasing after rappers, professional athletes, and other "ballers". If the pool of qualified black males is limited to this select group of individuals then the black male "shortage" has gotten even slimmer for these women. These shows are but a microcosm of a larger societal worship of materialism that often takes precedent over everything else. Even many churches seem to have placed a higher priority on raising money then on raising the standard of living and level of spirituality of their parishioners.
This article is not intended to be an attack on hip hop, the "housewives", or the Church but rather it is a call to action for everyday people in the community to engage in and to facilitate consistent discussions with members of the younger generation to discuss and unpack the myriad of different images that they are exposed to on a daily basis and help to provide a much needed sense of context. If mentors and concerned community members nationwide don't assist these young people in filtering the messages and images that they see and hear on a daily basis then we are destined to have a large segment of young black men aspiring to be "Big Meechs" and Larry Hoovers who sell dope "straight off of their IPhones" and a significant portion of young women whose primary life aspiration is to emulate and reenact the images of the hip-hop, basketball, football, and "real" housewives that they see projected on their television screens.