We all know that Jumping the Broom, (for showtimes click here) the latest black movie/extended sitcom is coming out this Friday and will likely score big at the box office as Moms drags the whole family to see it opening night for her extended mother’s day weekend gift (when she’s not looking I’m going to switch tickets and take my mother to Thor).
However the premiere of this film will also inevitably bring up the never ending, often wrong headed discussions of the state of marriage in the black community. In the interest of time, common sense and to make you sound smarter in the hour long discussions of black love that will follow this film, I humbly submit the top four myths about black marriage in America and what you ought to be saying to stop them.
Myth #1: Black People Don’t Get Married
I am tempted to throw hammers at the computer screen every time I see a column quote the famous line “Marriage is For White People”. A statement made by one kid, in one article in the Washington Post years ago, about marriage.
Somehow this statement has become a sociological fact in discussions about African American marriages despite the fact that it is attributed to a kid. The truth is that African Americans do actually get married and at a fairly regular clip. Have marriage rates gone down? Of course they have for black people and everyone else, however African Americans were the only demographic group to post stable marriage rates over the last 10 years. While only 30 percent of African American adults are married, that number didn’t change from 2000 to 2010 while other groups, Whites, Asians, and Latinos marriage rates declined. Bet you won’t hear that one the next Black in America special.
Myth #2: Black Men Are All After White Women
This is my favorite myth since it is so pernicious despite having no real basis in fact or demographics. And just to keep it honest and real, we’re talking about marriage here, not sex and not dating. Ask most married men or women and they will tell you that there is a distinct difference between the people you slept with, the people you dated and the person you actually ended up marrying.
While interracial sex is popping off non-stop (for black men AND women) interracial marriage is still rare. While black men marry interracially twice as often as black women (12 to about 6 percent) the vast majority of black men who are married (88 percent) are married to black women according to the 2010 census. In fact the 12 percent of black men who are married to non-African American women represents only about a 6 percent increase over the last 40 years.
In other words that stampede for Amy that Essence Magazine is trying to sell you just ain’t happening.
Myth #3: Black Women are single because they don’t “Expand their Dating Options”
This myth is simply another in a long line of white supremacist myths that get twisted and turned until black people unwittingly start using them on each other. Every few months you’ll hear some black woman on the radio or some black male comedian say that black women are ‘alone’ because they don’t expand their dating options out of some anachronistic race loyalty to black men. It’s almost as if some people believe that by dating outside your race you’re ‘getting back’ at all of those black men who are doing it.
First let’s get one thing clear, black women are no pickier about their dating preferences than women of any other race. Studies of both on-line and real life dating have shown that all women, except for Asians, prefer to date men within their own race if asked and given the opportunity. Why? Because Black women, like all women prefer to date with an eye towards marriage, and your chances of getting married are higher amongst your own race than outside of it. The fact is because of the legacy of racism and sexual exploitation of black women in America many sistas are justifiably skeptical of the advances of non-black men. Who wants to be someone else’s “Brown Eyed Girl” experiment? However just because a White, Latino, Arab or Asian man might have to step their game up to get a black women’s attention is not the same thing as black women refusing to ‘expand their options.’ It’s called having standards, something that no other group of women is criticized for having.
Moreover, of African American women who do get married 94 percent of them marry African American men according to the 2010 census. The highest number of interracial marriages between black women and non black men occurred in 2008 so it’s not like black women are sitting alone and not meeting and marrying whomever they like. The key to this dynamic is choice, both on the part of men and women. The fact is that African American women are chosen less by just about every demographic group of men in both on-line and real life dating studies.
Most African American women if approached by an attractive sincere man of another color would give him the time of day – at least for a date – it’s just that usually he’s not asking.
Myth #4: Our Best and Brightest always Chose “Others” over us
Like Kanye said “And when he get on he’ll leave yo ass for a white girl.” No matter how much factual evidence is presented about the state of black marriage people will inevitably go back to their anecdotal arguments about this famous person that’s going out like Kanye says. I call this the “What about Taye Diggs” argument (also known as the “What about Garcelle Beauvis, Alisha Tyler, or Zoe Saldana” argument).
This one doesn’t really hold up either.
African Americans continue to chose each other as marriage partners no matter the socioeconomic status. Look at the NBA All Star Teams in 2010, that’s a pretty hefty group of elites and they’re athletes so of course they’re supposed to all chose white girls, Brazilians and Asians right? Wrong. Out of the 23 African American players that were married 20 were married to black women. That’s 86 percent for those of you who are counting, and that number has been steady for the last 10 years of players. And we aren’t talking scrubs here, we’re talking Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Allen Iverson. Heck D-Wade left his black wife for ANOTHER black woman.
If anything the “Best and Brightest” argument would apply more to women than to men. Amongst all interracial marriages between blacks and whites 74 percent are Black male/White female and 25 percent are Black female/White male. However as you start to go up the socioeconomic ladder, once you hit families with a joint income of over $200,000 a year the percentage of Black female/White male marriages increases to 50 percent of all interracial black/white marriages. Translation: Black men will marry white women whether they’ve got a million dollars or two nickels in their pockets, but white men only tend to marry black women when they’re both rich. And bear in mind BOTH of these marriage scenarios represent only a small portion of black marriages overall.
Ultimately, Jumping the Broom isn’t a sociological treatise, it’s a movie geared towards making people smile and taking cash out their pockets. Along the same lines the “Marriage Gloom and Doom” industry is a for profit enterprise as well, banking on fears amongst black women and men that there is no one out there for them and that we as a people are somehow not interested in the marriage game. Hopefully now you know a little better, and might realize that the scenario presented in Jumping the Broom isn’t fantasy, for many African Americans is a long standing and durable reality.
This article originally appeared in TheLoop21.com under the headline “Jumping the Broom to Conclusions: 4 Myths About Black Marriage.”
Councilman Marcello Siciliano has been accused in participating in the execution of Councilwoman Marielle Franco
Note from BW of Brazil: Although the story is no longer the lead piece on the evening news or the front page of newspapers, many of us still want to know who killed Rio Councilwoman Marielle Franco, a story that made international headlines back in March. I’ve said from the very beginning that it was a well orchestrated hit, either a death squad connected to Military Police or political interests. Last month, this really started to look like more than just conspiratorial speculation when Carlos Alexandre Pereira Maria, a collaborator of Rio councilman Marcello Siciliano (PHS) was murdered. Now, as the investigation continues to unfold, the focus is now on Siciliano himself.
Rio Councilwoman Marielle Franco was murdered in March
Witness connects councilman and Military Police member to Marielle’s death, newspaper says
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My original 2005 essay on Save The Last Dance:
Warning: My review may not sit well with some people who want life to be seen in rose-colored glasses or the ideology of “colorblindness.”
My view on the 2001 movie, “Save the Last Dance”
I’ve rented the video, “Save the Last Dance,” to find out what the hype was about. It’s just a typical movie about a middle-class suburban white woman dates a black man from the inner city. The movie’s success depends on using dated stereotypes: “angry black woman,” “thuggish black man,” and “innocent” white women. White men, with few exceptions such as Sara’s father, barely register in that inner-city flick. The movie is set in South Side, a predominately black area of Chicago. She’s taken in by her jazz musician father who barely figured in her life. His home, in contrast to his daughter’s large, decorative suburban house, was a small flat. The apartment building where her estranged father Roy lived, was dilapidated and in desperate need of repairs. His apartment was no better. It was sort of unkempt, keeping with the stereotypes of bachelor and artists not having a care in the world. Meanwhile, blond Sara is trying to adjust her life in the inner city, going to Wheatley High, a predominant black high school where students check in going through metal detectors, which were absent in Sara’s old school in Lemont, IL. That says a lot about the racial/class disparities of two neighborhoods. It was at Wheatley where Sara met a gifted young man named Derek. Derek is a very hardworking student who is also college-bound. He’s going to Georgetown to study pediatrics so he can become a doctor. The producers could have shown more black men who are studious and honorable. No, they have to pander to prevailing stereotypes of black men as the thuggish, predatory criminals that populate the flick.
Sara and Derek became fast friends and even was invited by Chenille to dance at “Stepps,” a hip-hop nightclub where Wheatley students party on weekends.
Derek encourages her to start back on her ballet, which she gave up after her mother’s untimely death. Her friend Chenille was a single teenage mother who is making it on her own. She’s struggling to raise and protect her toddler son, Christopher, from pitfalls and obstacles she and her brother suffered. Their mother once served time in jail for drug possession and prostitution and who wasn’t involved in their lives. Black women today formed the fastest growing prison population due to the draconian and racist war on drugs policies. Their kids are being taken away and put into foster care, for rarely do nonblacks adopt “black” kids and “black” parents had to go through a series of bureaucracy which takes up to several years before adopting them. As a result, most black kids are informally taken care of by friends and relatives such as Derek’s and Chenille’s grandmother.
The subject of interracial relationships, they could have done a much better job than that. The movie overemphasize the anger of several black women, while downplaying or minimizing the anger or opposition from whites of both genders. Most movie reviewers said nearly nothing about the opposition of Derek’s male buddies to his budding relationship with Sara, not to mention white opposition to IR. His friends told him that he lost his pride and that he needs to “watch his back,” which is understandable because of society’s persistent opposition to interracial relationships as well as the legacy of history of lynching, imprisonment, and castration of black men pursuing love and marriage across racial lines. The murder of Emmet Till comes to mind. Even today, there’s that fear in which black and biracial black men could be imprisoned, even killed for such things as the young teenage man named Marcus Dixon in Georgia who was imprisoned recently for having a consensual relationship with a teenaged white girl. He was college-bound and gifted like the Derek character in the movie. His friend, Malakai, told his girlfriend that she didn’t belong at Steps and that his ex-girlfriend, played by Bianca Lawson, was the better choice. He felt that by his friend dating outside of the race, he was selling out. Also, the comment by her white friend about Sarah’s living in a “war zone.” To her suburban friend, the inner city of Chicago is “full of violent blacks” who prey upon one another and that is full of hopelessness, bleakness, and despair. She obviously don’t have a clue because she lives in a lily-white world and what white-owned media tells her. She also asked her friend whether her school has white boys because she thinks that one should date/marry within the race and that she wouldn’t find men of color attractive. Then there’s a middle-aged white lady on the train staring at the couple. She evidence her prejudices by her hate stare as well as saying hateful things under her breath. Even her father didn’t want her to date outside of her race by telling her to be home at a “decent hour.” For him, who neglected his daughter for many years, to tell her to be at home while he’s out playing jazz in Chicago’s nightclubs almost every night. In fact, only near the end of the film, did he show her fatherly affection and love.
The portrayal of black women in the movie were mostly negative, with few exceptions. Many of the women were portrayed as single mothers, angry harpies, loose women, immoral, and as victims. I didn’t like the blown out-of proportion fight between Sara and Nikki at the high-school gym nor do I like the cluelessness and naiveté of Sara when confronted by friends, family, and acquaintances at the school. She thinks that everyone lives in the same world, which is based upon her white suburban perspective. She thinks the world is colorblind and is full of fair-minded people. Her friend corrected her by telling about her world and the people in it. It’s not the world Sarah envisioned. It’s a world inhabited by people of color, many of whom are poor, working-class, and lower middle class, with fewer job opportunities, fewer amenities than in affluent white areas. It’s also a world where people are being abused by others, whether the abuse is being conducted by police, store owners, teachers, family members, or strangers passing by. The problem with the movie is that it privilege Sara as being morally superior to the black women in the neighborhood. Mainstream society writes off the inner city as “hopeless area full of poor people of color who couldn’t do better and as an area full of criminals, prostitutes, drug addicts, ‘no-good’ single mothers, and ‘unemployed bums.’” Such views have been articulated by politicians who need middle-class voters for reelection. For example, the late ex-president Ronald Reagan blamed poor black women on welfare for scamming middle and upper class taxpayers. Many scared middle-class voters have bought the idea of poor blacks destroying America and its way of life.
Getting back to Nikki, I think she was mad at Sara because she represent naive, suburban white females who date black men without thinking about their whiteness/pedestalled white femaleness which advantaged them. White females are not that far from black men in the racial/gender hierarchy. They can cross the racial divide if they so desired. Whereas black and biracial black women, having neither racial nor gender privilege cannot. We’re not as valued as other women, especially white women. American society has long placed white women upon pedestals, especially during slavery and segregation periods, while black women bore the brunt of racial and sexual abuse by men of all races, even today. The revelation of Essie Mae Williams’ claim that she is the late Senator Strom Thurmond’s child is a case in point. He abused his 15-year old maid at his parents house in 1924. Her mother didn’t had any right to resist because Mr. Thurmond was the one who had all the power. He could kill her if she didn’t comply. Or the tabloid saga of Britney Spears’ fiance’s spurning of his ex girlfriend Shar Jones while she was still pregnant with their second child. He didn’t think his ex was worthy enough to marry, following the pattern of most white and other non black men who have relationships with black and biracial black women. Chenille, highly angered by her baby’s daddy’s(Kenny) recent dissing, lets Sara know clearly that white girls like her who steal the best black men from under black women’s noses aren’t always cool. She told Sara at an inner-city doctors’ office full of black single mothers with children that she doesn’t understand black womens’ frustration with interracial dating, that Sara, being white, is taking away the decent black men after jail, drugs, and death and that she is using her white privilege in dating successful men of color. I hated that she was forced by the script to apologize. The statement Chenille about life in her inner city and her perception that white women go after only successful black men were most telling. One aspect of white female privilege that is almost never addressed in mainstream media and academia, that is, the naivety of white females when it comes to interracial relationships. The racial
hierarchy in female beauty/femininity needs to be addressed. I
don’t feel the movie adequately address the issue that is between black/biracial and white women in American society today. Colorism in the film is ubiquitous, with the white girl at the center, then Nikki, played by Bianca Lawson. Diggy, who may either be a white or latina, was played by Elisabeth Oas. The said girls are either white or light-skinned. Chenille was played by the brown-skinned, shorter haired Kerry Washington. Momma Dean, Chenille’s grandmother, is played by Dorothy Martin. The white girls in the film were given an aura of innocence, while black women were portrayed as experienced and “loose” as well as victims of either bullies such as Malakai, played by Fredo Starr or irresponsible cads like Kenny, played by Garland Witt and the single mothers at the doctor’s office, where Chenille told Sara to look around and see what’s happening in their community instead of herself.
I give Save the Last Dance one star because it was about Sara and her struggles instead of exploring the struggles of Derek, his sister, and the community which Sara temporarily resides. As a matter of fact, her white skin privilege keeps her from doing so. The example of Sara ‘s quick glance at the single mothers at the doctor’s office after Chenille said some things about life, she still didn’t get it. Or the argument between her and Derek at the school’s dance studio regarding the fight and their future together, saying that the relationship is too hard for her because of the opposition from all sides, while dismissing Derek’s viewpoint on life in the South Side of Chicago. Earlier in the film, she dismiss opposition to her relationship by whites by showing off their display of affection on a subway, where a middle-aged white woman disapproved of them being together, yet black people’s opposition to IR are a big deal to her. Either she is clueless to their views of the world or her whiteness blinds her to certain realities people of color face in everyday life.
When I watched that movie again earlier this year, I see cultural appropriation of hip hop/Black culture by Sara while living in South side Chicago during her Senior year. She befriended Derek’s sister, Chenille and apparently doesn’t have any Black friends save Derek, whom she dates and his sister. She’s very oblivious to Chenelle’s reality as a Black woman living in segregated inner city of Southside Chicago. Like the incident at the clinic. Black women and their children had to use that clinic to provide for their children’s’ health. The treatment there was substandard and brusque. Major hospitals don’t serve the underserved populations, especially People of Color. So, they had to use various clinics and urgent care centers in neighborhoods of Color. That film didn’t address that issue. The majority are single mothers with young children, Black and Biracial.
The film gloss over the role of White men. In my opinion, Chenille was biracial in the film played by Kerry Washington of Scandal fame. There were unacknowledged biracial students in the school as well as the clinic and Stepps, a night club frequented by students. Some of the children at the clinic appeared to be mixed. Nor did the movie emphasized on Sara’s deadbeat father. Sara was lucky because her mother and apparently affluent grandparents provided for her previous lifestyle in Lemont, IL. her father left when she was young. They were estranged in the majority of the movie. Nor did the movie tread on the issue of police brutality and affluent White men coming to the neighborhood for drugs and sex. As in the 2011 movie, The Help, White men are exonerated and exempt from the daily activities of inner city life in Chicago.
the portrayal of Black relationships as being dysfunctional, chaotic, and stereotypical. They show the couples either fighting each other or are together for having a good time at the club dancing, drinking etc. There are no fathers in the film except for Sara’s father and Chenille’s son’s father played by Garland Witt. There are two parent families and functional Black couples in South side Chicago but the movie purposely omit such relationships. The movie have mainly single mothers. Throughout American history, society has always been threatened by genuine Black love and romance. Hollywood merely reflects racist ideology and practices against Black life and culture. They also exploit Black sexuality through club and “inner city” life. That’s reflected in the dancing and tense gender relationships at Strips and at the high school.
Though the movie featured hip hop music, dancing, and culture, the main emphasis is on ballet. Sara used hip hop to enliven her ballet dance steps in order to to win a scholarship at Julliard, the premier arts school in NYC. Throughout the movie, ballet is both portrayed and perceived as stereotypical White, despite the inroads of Women of Color such as Misty Copeland. That narrative also erased historical WOC ballerinas such as Maria Tallchief and Carmen de Lavallade who were ballerinas in their own right. Save The Last Dance portrays Black women as being knowledgable only in often stereotypical vulgar hip hop dancing as portrayed at Stepps.
Save The Last Dance promoted hateful stereotypes of Black men, women, and kids of South side Chicago while putting Sara on a pedestal of “purity and innocence”. That movie traffic in toxic stereotypes and racist mythology.
Sums it up perfectly.
published in The Times Literary Supplement, JANUARY 2, 2018. https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/public/intimate-injustice-black-girls-williams/
“Five Day Forecast” by Lorna Simpson, 1991
© Tate, London 2017
Silenced and objectified: black women in the US
Some years ago I attended a play about the race riots in Los Angeles in 1992. The event, sponsored by the Institute for Arts and Civic Dialogue, was followed by an open discussion among actors, producers and a broader than usual audience. What I remember most is an older black woman volunteering that a white man sitting next to her had just asked for her view on a particular matter. Most importantly, he had asked in a way that made her feel that he honestly wanted to know. “In my entire life,” she said, “I have never had a white man ask what I was thinking about anything at all.” Her pleased surprise resonated with many other women of…
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No words. When will swirlers ever talk about the sordid side of interracial sex?
You get racialized sexism, the marginalization of Black men, and white male saviorism in those novellas. That’s how I see them in both Brazil and the US. They pair Black women with White men, not with Black men and it’s disturbing and bothersome to me.
Note from BW of Brazil: Such a simplistic analysis of what’s going on in this novela. But, in reality, I don’t expect much when the topic is Globo TV novelas, racism and interracial relationships, if the writer doesn’t have a background in studying racial issues from a more critical perspective. The article below doesn’t really delve too deep into the messages embedded in this novela that it is supposed to be reviewing. But then again, nowadays we are dealing with a new form of racism, a sort of “Racism 2.0” that the untrained eye won’t catch. Let’s see how the article below deals with the issue first…
Telma Souza, Caio Paduan and Erika Januza are part of the cast of the Globo novela ‘O Outro Lado do Paraíso’
Novela shows the racism practiced by whites and among blacks
Interracial Romance of O Outro Lado do Paraíso discusses different practices of…
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Yes, so true. But in America, there’s denial of this painful history as they pair Black women with white men in movies, TV, commercials, newscasts, and advertisements.
Note from BW of Brazil: The debut and now second episode of the new controversial Globo network television series Sexo e as negas has brought front and center a re-ignition of the topic of stereotypes of black sexuality, specifically that of black women. Brazil’s history, from the sexual assault of black women by slave masters under 350 years of slavery, to modern day representations of black women as portrayed by the media, continue the association of Afro-Brazilian women to hyper-sexuality. For activists, the very title of the series in itself continues this association. The subsequent broadcasting of the series confirmed the worst nightmares of female activists who see the black female characters of the show continuing along the same lines of stereotypes about black women that are widely known throughout Brazilian society.
While the Carnaval season is the most visible time when…
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