THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Strong Educated Black Woman in the 21st Century

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--Who is she and where is she going?

Over the past few weeks there has been an obsessive-like focus on the fact that many professional (accomplished) black women remain unmarried and childless well into their 40s. ABC, 20/20, The New York Times, and MSNBC have all placed this topic in the media spotlight and there can be no doubt that the facts on the matter are disturbing. Consider the reality that 42% of black women will never marry, or that upwards of 70% of professional sisters are currently single in the United States.

However, to discuss this topic outside of the proper political, social and historical context is dangerous and potentially damaging to the hopes and dreams of a new generation of young black women. The question that everyone is asking is: Why are so many accomplished, smart, attractive black women single?

First, that is the wrong question. Why not ask, "Why are so many black men not willing to settle down, or why do so many of them mistreat and misuse beautiful sisters when they get them, or why do our best brothers always prefer to date 'other' women?" The answer, of course, to either question is complex in that there are many contributing factors to this phenomenon. But let's start with the facts:

There are 1.8 million more black women than there are black men in the United States. Add in the discrepancy in advanced educational degrees and those numbers become quite lopsided with as many as 60 to 70% (or more) of those degrees being attained by black women. Then factor in that millions of otherwise eligible black men are in some way under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Criminal Justice System. Next, a good number of our black men are homosexual. AIDS is the leading cause of death of black women in many major urban centers in the U.S. While that is true, that no one really has statistics on how many black men are gay; if I had a dollar for every black woman I know or know of who has caught her love interest in a down low scenario or later found out that the brother was gay, I'd have a house in Bermuda.

Moreover, the history in America relative to black women and our status is a troubling one at best. Black women have always been viewed as less than, not pretty enough, as not good enough, as work horses, as too strong, too black, too nappy headed, as too independent, and the like. Sadly, these images, words, stereotypes have stood the test of time (400 years worth) and are still with us today. Black women have always been viewed politically as impolitic and sexually as wild, exotic seductresses with loose mores; or the exact opposite as high minded religious prudes looking to emasculate and control black men. Stereotypes of black women assume they have power, lots of power, influencing how people ultimately see us and deal with us across the spectrum of relationships.

These are the ugly realities that have plagued black women for generations in this nation. Yet, what this new generation of sisters must face is quite different. Women of my generation (Gen X) seemed to have plenty of black men to date, the social and sexual mores were different (meaning sex was still valued and not demeaned down to being someone's jump off, buddy or friends with benefits), and many of my black friends married out of college and started families.

Things are quite different now.

WMoreover, the history in America relative to black women and our status is a troubling one at best. Black women have always been viewed as less than, not pretty enough, as not good enough, as work horses, as too strong, too black, too nappy headed, as too independent, and the like. Sadly, these images, words, stereotypes have stood the test of time (400 years worth) and are still with us today. Black women have always been viewed politically as impolitic and sexually as wild, exotic seductresses with loose mores; or the exact opposite as high minded religious prudes looking to emasculate and control black men. Stereotypes of black women assume they have power, lots of power, influencing how people ultimately see us and deal with us across the spectrum of relationships.

These are the ugly realities that have plagued black women for generations in this nation. Yet, what this new generation of sisters must face is quite different. Women of my generation (Gen X) seemed to have plenty of black men to date, the social and sexual mores were different (meaning sex was still valued and not demeaned down to being someone's jump off, buddy or friends with benefits), and many of my black friends married out of college and started families.

Things are quite different now.

Too many women in my generation (I talk to them daily or weekly through my work in iask, Inc.) are broken, bitter and hardened by the hell they have been through in their careers, relationships, and personal lives. I don't want the next generation to start off that way. Life is good and it is meant to be lived. For you sisters out there 35 and under don't give up, don't settle, and don't trade your value away because you feel pressed. Date men of other races-one white male quipped to a black female friend of mine, "White men love black women we just don't know what to do about it." Travel, read, expand your mind and do what makes you happy and fulfilled -- only then will you meet Mr. Wonderful. Trust me on this, I am there.

Sisters, the time has come for you to change the rules, and walk upright in all of your glory, beauty and splendor as a black woman. The only way you can defy these otherwise daunting obstacles out there is to value you first, have an attractive spirit, and live your life to the fullest.

The rest will come. I promise.

Cross-posted from Race-Talk.