>Excuse me while I go on a rant

>Dear Steve Harvey (and other self-appointed black relationship gurus):

I’ve noticed that you all have written books recently designed to give black women some insight as to why they can’t supposedly find a man. Through your poorly-research books, you have attempted to take the pulse of black men and women and apply blanket assumptions about both genders when it comes to relationships.

With these assessments, you continue to perpetuate the myth that when it comes to “black love (whatever that is),” black women ultimately are the problem.You continue to say black women are ultimately responsible for why they can not land and keep a good black man.

You men continue to tell us that we are gold diggers when we seek men who are on the same financial wavelength as we are. We are lambasted as being materialistic and only wanting a black man if he has good shoes, a nice car and a sizable bank account.

You self-righteous men tell us that we are overlooking good brothers; that we always want the low-down brothers who don’t want anything to do with us. We are accused of being attracted to the bad boys and consistently ignored the brothers who have something going for themselves.

We are accused of having too high of standards. We are accused of being meticulous in what we want from men. We are berated for having a check list and will push a brother to the side if he doesn’t meet the criteria.

It’s ironic that in your books (or your lectures, interviews, blog entries), you never point out the “problems” of black men. Black men, according to you all, are the victims of a racist, white patriarchal society and we should continue to wait for a brother to get his act together. We should patronize a brother’s ego because it’s been so bruised from fighting the white man all day. We should constantly encourage our brothers and give them a steady stream of positive reinforcement because the deck is stacked against them. Black women, you all should say, should continue to support “black love” and “black unity” for the sake (and survival) of the black community.

As a black woman, I take offense to your patronizing and demeaning depictions of black women in America. I take offense to your notion that me and my “high” standards are the problem. It’s funny how no other group of women are accused of having set their standards too high. Believe it or not, black women are just like any other group of women who want the basic characteristics in their men: motivated, go-getters, financially stable, shows respect for all women, provides moral support, etc. Why is it okay for other women to have these standards, but it’s not okay for black women to have them?

Black women, too, are victims of a racist, patriarchal society that on a daily basis devalues our womanhood. Black women and children are preyed upon in our own communities by other black men. Black women and children are victimized by the thugs and criminals in our own communities. Black women are routinely having children out of wedlock and our baby daddies don’t bother to provide financial support or to be a father to his children. Black women’s bodies are routinely used for the pleasure and entertainment of men, including black men. We are constantly gawked (and mocked) at for our features and exploited for our supposedly Amazon-like sexual qualities. Black women are exoticized, yet ostracized by our society and by the black “community.”

Our voices, thoughts and opinions are drowned out by our community and this country’s patriarchal society. We have no voice and are forced to defer our power and attention to the self-appointed male leaders in our schools, churches, government institutions, families and the community at large. Our minds are devalued and are routinely poisoned by the negative comments and stereotypes we hear on a daily basis at home and in the workplace.

Black women aren’t overlooking good brothers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, black women are the least likely group of women to marry interracially. We are still loyal to the notion of “black love” and will probably do anything to protect black love. Since the Civil Rights Movement, black women have been told that we need to produce black children to preserve the black community. We’ve been told that black love is what will keep our communities strong and thriving. We are the ones who will come to a brother’s side when he’s been chided by the white patriarchal soceity. We are the first ones who will march at a rally to protect a young black man from the racist criminal system. We’ve been their most fervent and avid cheerleaders and will probably remain at their side at the darkest hour–at the expense of our own health.

Yet, we are continuously left blowing in the wind by the black community to fend for ourselves. No one has our backs. Black women who are raped, murdered, robbed, beaten get no justice. We get no rallies or marches in our honor whenever we are targeted by the racist criminal justice system. We get no speeches from the male civil rights “leaders.” We get no fundraising activities. We get nothing from our “community.”

No, black women are not gold diggers. Many black women know what it’s like to grow up in poverty (like myself). We know what it’s like to grow up in a fatherless (or motherless) household and going to bed hungry at night. We know what it’s like to wake up Christmas morning and not have any toys under the Christmas tree. We know true hunger pains. To Steve Harvey and his minions: Is it too much to ask in our potential partners that they be able to adequately provide for the family?

Black women have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness just like you and other groups of people. We have a right to ask for our potential men to not lay a hand on us or our children, to have his finances in order, to provide support and encouragement, to protect his children.

As black women become more successful and independent, we will start making choices that are best for us. We will begin to realize that there are plenty of other men who will meet or even exceed our standards and, ultimately, we will begin to weigh the pros and cons of settling for less with mediocre black men. Black women are beautiful, funny, sexy, have great personalities and are the backbone of this society. Men would be lucky to say they have a black woman in their lives.

So, to Steve Harvey and his dedicated crew of anti-independent black women: you can either hop on board or move aside. This plane is ready for take off.