Tuesday, December 29, 2009

25, Black and Terrified?

Oh my, if I have watch/read/listen to another piece regarding the fact that I will probably end up alone with a great job, a great Fendi handbag and a dozen cats I just might [fill in the blank].

So, Black women's marital status has always been an interesting cultural preoccupation. First, we couldn't marry (we were property), then we should marry (we were welfare queens), and now we can't find people to marry us. 42% of Black women have never been married and the percentage just keeps getting higher the more educated and successful we are. It's rough.

Everyone seems to be getting in on the discussion - most recently, Nightline.

Scarily, one of the women in the feature was only 28. At 25, I'm close on her heels, so I guess I should be getting worried. Right? Well, I refuse. In an act of defiance, I will not allow the these "revelations" get under my skin. Although I ultimately want a partner, as a feminist/womanist/humanist, I won't let myself be defined by my marital status - that's not where my value lies.

However, even as I'm not getting my VS panties in a bunch, I am willing learn from what I'm what I've (or what we all have) been observing. So, what are the lessons?

- In dealing with our "bottom-of-the-totem-pole" position in society, we have had to do a lot of self 'uptalk.' Our successful Black girl mantra has been something in the vein of us being wonderful, beautiful, valuable, virtuous, worthy individuals and that's great. And although many Black girls never internalize this (or even really hear it), those of us that have need to be careful not to take it too far into self-absorption. Asserting our worth is an important part of enacting self-esteem, but we need to be careful to remember the worth of others - particularly the worth of men. When I'm talking worth here, I'm not talking about bank accounts, 401Ks or real estate, I'm talking about that which makes that person who they are.

- Yes, we don't need a man. However, maybe we should get better at being able say that we really would like one; that perhaps our lives would be richer with someone to share it with. Being able to confidently state our desire for companionship and intimacy is as important has our declarations of independence. I'm working on this...

- There's more to a man then his credentials (and his biceps). A checklist of "dealbreakers and dealmakers" may be a good place to start, but at the end of the day, people are complicated. Not everything can be accounted for, both good and bad, and we are probably overlooking some great men while overestimating some others when we rely on rigid externally imposed standards.

- Despite the daily recitations of our mantra, are we really okay being ourselves? No, the carefully groomed exteriors...are we really okay with whatever lies underneath. The good, the bad and the quirky. If we want intimate relationships, we have to be willing to let the "perhaps unrespectable" parts of us show....yeah? I think so. Ladies, let's work on being the most genuine versions of ourselves possible.

Hmm, what else...? There's more - I'm sure of it.

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