Dating is a “Crisis” For Black Women? Double Howl!

6ABC Philadelphia recently aired a story entitled Crisis Facing Single Black Women. The topic of the discussion: why black women are unable to find a man.

According to journalist Lisa Thomas-Laury, the purpose of the story was to provide solutions to changing the potentially bleak future for black women when it comes to love and marriage.  Unfortunately, Thomas-Laury bites off more than she can chew and ends up choking.

The 6ABC story comes on the heels of a similar piece aired on Nightline a few weeks ago.  The Nightline story highlights problems many black women face in finding a suitable black man to marry.  The Nightline story focuses on a group of attractive, highly successful, single black women living in Atlanta and offers statistics illustrating the problems black women face in the dating arena.

Thomas-Laury does little if anything to bring a local flavor to the alleged “crisis” black women are facing.

Instead of taking the story to the next level by looking into whether black women here in Philadelphia are better or worse off than black women in other areas, the ABC 6 story simply re-hashes the statistics in the Nightline story and asks five Philadelphia-based black women and three black men questions virtually identical to those asked by Nightline.   Thomas-Laury does not ask any questions specific to Philadelphia or the Delaware Valley region and instead assumes that the black women in Philadelphia are in the same boat as black women in other regions.

Moreover, the goal of the story- which Thomas-Laury mentions at the very beginning- was to provide solutions.  However, Thomas-Laury offers the same tired solutions championed by Steve Harvey and other so-called experts on the black woman “crisis.”  I mean, is telling a woman to “try something new” like Internet dating, going to the gym or attending “racially mixed venues where there is a live band” really a solution?

As an African-American woman, I agree that it is hard for black women to find a mate and, in some ways, I am happy that Thomas-Laury took the initiative to highlight the problem.  But, 6ABC could have done so much more to make this story more personal to black women in Philadelphia. And so I howl….

– Cherri Gregg

I also have to make this story my Howl for this week.

Why is it a Howl? Without getting into how tired the topic itself is, and it is tired, let me count the number of ways in which this is a Howl…

First of all, the piece relies on statistics, yet doesn’t tell you where these statistics come from, who was interviewed, or even how old the statistics themselves are. As a professional African American woman of a certain age, I’ve had these statistics thrown at me a lot over the years. If this had the chance of being an example of good journalism, it would have had to give me some information about where these statistics came from and who did the research.

Secondly, this story turns something into a racial and class issue that really isn’t one. I have friends of all races, ages, classes, creeds and colors and they all have one complaint in common: they can’t find a decent guy. If you’re going to do this story, it makes it more thorough in my opinion if you expand your outreach in terms of both class and race.

Thirdly, this story featured one word that really set me off: crisis. This is not the hurricanes in Haiti or Chile. This is not Hurricane Katrina. No woman is going to die if they aren’t able to call   doctor, a lawyer, Jay-Z or Ryan Howard their permanent mate. Calling the fact that a bunch of professional middle class women can’t find a man a crisis makes a mockery of those things in the African American community that this word truly fits.

– Denise Clay

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