An Open Letter to Cynthia McFadden, Linsey Davis, and ABC News Nightline

Dear Ms. McFadden / Ms. Davis:
This letter is in response to your December 26, 2009 ABC News Nightline story, Why Are 42% Of Black Successful Women Are Single?
I find it absolutely disturbing and appalling that you ran such a one-sided story about the plight of single, successful black women, and their inability to find a black man to marry.
This story is flawed on numerous fronts:
1. Ms. Davis failed to define success.  Does a person who has a career, owns a home, and drives a decent automobile make them successful?  Or, are they simply living the American Dream?
Furthermore, when does success in one or more particular areas of life guarantee anything?
2. You outlined a number of  statistics about black men that may correlate, directly or indirectly, to the alleged plight of black women.  You failed, however, to outline key statistics pertaining to black women.
Example, “In 2005, 69.5 percent of all births to unmarried non-Hispanic black women.”  – Source : Child Trends Data Bank.  “In 2006, 71.5 percent of all births to unmarried non-Hispanic black women.” – Source CDC.
Even with the slightest decrease in percentages of births to unmarried non-Hispanic black women between 2006 and 2009, that still equates to roughly 7 out of 10 black women who fall squarely within the demographic of women you interviewed being an unmarried mother.  In the case of your article, that means that  3 of the 4 women interviewed potentially have children.
I’m curious to know how consideration of such facts might have shaped the context of your report.
3. We are currently facing record unemployment due to the worst economic times in recent memory.  It is no secret that tough economic times affect black men almost twice as hard than the average American, 17% vs 10%.
It is unacceptable that you would use such a statistic as a contributing factor toward the plight of black women.
4. You consulted with “Comedian turned Relationship guru, Steve Harvey” about the alleged problem.  What qualifies Mr. Harvey as an authority on the subject of relationships, specifically the relationship between black men and women, other than one book?
There are qualified, experienced, professional relationship experts, who I am certain are authorities on the subject, and can lend some legitimate insight into this issue and its root causes.
Additionally, Mr. Harvey contradicts himself during the interview.  He states, “Admittedly, the selection of men is slim.”  He then says “There are still a lot of good men out there who are being overlooked.”  Well, which is it?  Is the selection slim?  Or are black men being overlooked?

"Ooh girl, he 6'5". I'll take him!" - Jakene Ashford

Based on the statements by some of the women interviewed, it appears that black men are being overlooked.  Jakene Ashford stated that she used to have a height requirement of 6’5 for a man she would consider.  How many years passed before she was finally willing to consider a man she could “see eye-to-eye” with“?

The average height for American men is 5’8″.  It’s reasonable to assume that with a height requirement of 6’5″, Ms. Ashford was either looking for an exceptionally unique man in terms of stature, or an athlete.  The likelihood of her meeting such a man would indeed greatly diminish her probability of success.
5. The subject then turned toward the topic of the “Back-pocket Girl“.  Melinda Watson and Chato Waters both admitted to not being in an “exclusive” relationship since college, and in over a decade, respectively.  My impression is that the plights of these women are attributed to engaging in and accepting situations that were less than what they truly desired; not a limited number of black men.  Yet, Ms. Watson and Ms. Waters maintain that they will not settle; how ironic.
6. Mr. Harvey then contradicts himself once more by suggesting that the four ladies consider looking for an older man.  Why would he not reinforce his view that “There are still a lot of good men out there that are being overlooked“?  Why would he not assess these women and their requirements, and evaluate that against what he maintains about black men?
What Mr. Harvey did was sell out the demographic of black men he defended as being overlooked, earlier in the segment, in favor of his own demographic of black men.  And you Ms. McFadden and Ms. Davis, accepted his commentary about the present state of affairs as authoritative.
7. No effort was made to refute the claims these women were making, or provide evidence of the existence of the black men they desire.  I happen to be a single black man who is gainfully employed, educated with both a Bachelors and Masters degree from two of the finest institutions of higher learning in the world, and have never been incarcerated.  Yet, I am often overlooked by women of my own race.
I am just one of many black men who resemble this profile. We are doctors, lawyers, writers, teachers, scientists, entrepreneurs and President of these United States of America.
This ABC Nightline segment over this alleged issue is absolutely disgraceful and irresponsible. The content of your report is one-sided, severely lacking in substance, perspective and concrete facts.  Above all, it does nothing but further erode the image of black men.   For far too long black men have had to contend with countless gross negative stereotypes and misperceptions.   This particular stereotype about black men, no thanks to you, rests at the pinnacle.  I would expect such reporting from Black Entertainment Television (BET), not a respected news organization such as ABC News.  I wonder what Peter Jennings might think if he were still alive.
It was less than one year ago that the first black US President took office.  It is extremely evident, that even with such a milestone for this country and its people, that very little has changed.
I will not sit back quietly and accept such irresponsibility by either of you, or ABC News.  I will see to it that those like me do not either.
Sincerely,
A Single, Educated, Professional, American, Phenomenal, Black Man
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22 comments

  1. Excellent post bruh. I think you hit all the major points. I also suspect that the calculation they used to figure out the percentage of “eligible” Black men was flawed. It seemed that they didn’t account for any overlap. Surely there are some men who are in jail, unemployed and without a high school diploma. By my count that’s one man, not three!

    Also, I see you’re a fan of Bahia. Wise man… 🙂

    • Official M-Dub

      Mike, thanks for your commentary. The calculations are flawed. They took an aggregate and created widespread sweep of a significant percentage of the black male population.

      Yes, Bahia is great. My heart is there!

    • Thedy

      That is an excellent point!

  2. K

    As a single African-American woman I can appreciate what you’ve stated but I also believe there is truth in what ABC reported. The segment they presented what short so there was no way they could provide the in depth report that is truly needed. Ultimately, the reality is a lot of black men are incarcerated, unemployed, dating outside their race, gay/bisexual, etc. This does truly limit our options…at least through my lens. If my lens needs correcting I am very open to what other’s have to say as long as it is rational/logical. Thank you.

    • Official M-Dub

      A short segment is no excuse for misrepresenting facts, or presenting a one-sided view of this alleged problem. If anything, more care should be taken in highlighting this issue; especially when it comes at the expense of black men. Such flawed reporting should never make its way in front of a national audience.

      I am totally aware of the reality black women face. The flip side of the coin is that there are a lot with black women that contribute to the issue as well, as evidenced by the content of the video, as well as the facts I presented.

      The entire content of this particular blog post is to present a rational, logical, factual view of this topic; something that ABC, Steve Harvey, and the four women failed miserably at doing.

      Thank you for your commentary.

  3. Ms. H

    As a single black woman I actually agree with your commentary, particularly the statement that “the plights of these women are attributed to engaging in and accepting situations that were less than what they truly desired; not a limited number of black men.” We as women need to take responsibility. I will admit to engaging in situations that were less than ideal and allowing unacceptable behavior. They say you have to teach people how to treat you and this includes men. If you accept mediocracy that is what you will get. Once you allow behavior that is “not up to your standard” and try to “retrain” the man this often leads to the man going astray to find the next woman that will allow him to behave in an unacceptable manner and the endless cycle begins. We as women need to take a good long look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are enabling this so called bad behavior. It is the fault of the women who allow unaceptable situations to occur. There is no shortage of “good black men.” This is simply an excuse some black women use to legitimize being single. Let’s remember the “good black man” might not look like Reggie Bush or Denzel, he may be dressed in a UPS uniform or be driving a Honda and not a Mercedes. I say this not to imply that we must lower our standards, but to say that perhaps some women are not even giving the good men a chance because of foolish standards placed on men by society. Let’s get it together ladies!

  4. 1Love

    This is good- you did forget to mention that with all those births by unmarried non- Hispanic black women there are a ton of eligible black men who gotta lotta babies’ mommaz!!!!!!!! Thereby deeming them not so eligible. The number just went from 40% (after taking out gay men, by your calculation) to 14% – I betcha!

    • Official M-Dub

      Well, look at it both ways, neither side that factor into that equation are not so eligible. Yes, there are indeed gay black men. But, let’s not ignore the fact that there are gay black women either.

      People are so quick to grab a stereotype and run with it. It’s a ‘stereotype’. That does not mean that across the board that there are no eligible black men. People, black women especially, need to get off it. Perhaps if some people people were willing to be introspective, they could identify what they do to contribute to the problem. It’s very easy to make a broad characterization about a problem.

      All 4 of these women showed something about themselves, directly or indirectly, that contributes to the problem. How many people have actually recognized that? ABC should have. But, this blog already did.

  5. Thedy

    Your post is well written and you’ve made some valid points. For example, I really like that your post is attempting to address any stereotypes that may persist in the black community. I think you’ve correctly highlighted some flawed stats as well.

    Now, perhaps I’m mistaken, but I do think though your reaction to what the women said in the video is somewhat biased. I see the women in the video as saying they were doing some things wrong to contribute to their singleness. I don’t think they, or this segment is simply saying that it’s the shortage of black men that makes black women single. When the video first begins, it asks: are successful black women single because there’s a shortage of eligible black men or because of their standards. This video was more asking the question in my opinion, not answering it. To me, it appears you are saying that the segment both asked and answered the question and I don’t think it did. Perhaps this brief segment should have answered the question and done a better, more detailed job of doing so as you said so that I do agree with you on that point.

    Third, I think the women in the video took ownership of their part in their singleness by stating, my standards were outlandish. One woman had 50 things on her list. The other woman said she had unrealistic height requirements. Two of the women said they allowed themselves to be in compromising relationships. Some admitted that they looked only to our race to find love. I don’t think your post reflects these admissions. I think the women were very honest and candid about the inner battle that some successful black women share. I for one though don’t agree with everything that these women had to say but do share some of their thoughts. For example, chemistry is important but unlike the black woman in the video, I think chemistry may not happen the very first time you meet someone.

    Finally, there is always a debate in the black community about the definition of a good black man/woman. It is just that, a debate. Just like with other terms, a good black man/woman is a term that will have many definitions that will be defined and redefined with time and experience. I have met many black men who have indicated that it is hard to find a good black woman. Upon further questioning, it appears that these men are looking for a good black woman FOR THEM. That definition varies by man because what is good for one is not good for another. I think the same is true for black women: you can’t fault black women for saying I want a good black man that is right for me. To do so would lend itself to not just stereotyping what a good black man is, since you mentioned stereotypes, but would also produce the dreaded double standard. That is not to say that there shouldn’t be standards by which good can be defined but beyond that, the standards are and can be, subjective. Besides if we all liked the same type guy, then there wouldn’t be somebody for everybody. Our diversity in likes and dislikes helps us attract someone that someone else may not find attractive. Having that perspective will truly keep us from being angry at the opposite sex because that someone hasn’t found us to be their “good black woman/man.”

    Thedy
    Love is not a science, it’s a spiritual experience.

    • Official M-Dub

      You too made some valid points. However,the title of the story is “Why Are 42% of Successful Black Women Single?” The story then highlighted a few statistics about black men which may contribute to the plight of successful single black women, before it really examined what these women contributed to their single status.

      Who said that I fault any of these women? Every guy may not be right for them. But, they should all have taken care not to create a sweeping perspective regarding the plight of black women at the expense of black men; especially considering that they have each contributed directly to the challenges they have encountered.

  6. Urban Rennaisance Man

    Mr. Blogger. I stand up and applaud your rebuttal to this ABC atrocity. Just know that you are not alone in the fight. Check the link below:

    http://www.macklessonsradio.com/index/episode-220-response-to-abc-report-why-successful-black-women-find-it-so-hard-to-get-married-

    • Official M-Dub

      Thank you very much for your comment. I listened to your show. I couldn’t have said it any better. We’re on the same page.

      We view this through the same lens. Much respect, brother!

      Great show.

    • Official M-Dub

      Hey there. Thanks for your reply. I found your article a couple of days ago via a related link from my post.

      You made some great points. Sure, there are statistics that suggest there are not enough black men available to match the number of single black women. A couple of things to consider… The statistic around unwed single black mothers. That’s a very impactful statistic to a single black man looking for a single black woman. The other thing to consider that many black women consider themselves immediately desirable to men they encounter. That’s simply not the case.

      The number of black women who are truly desirable really levels the playing field, whether people want to believe it or not. It is very easy to point to statistics to arrive at a conclusion over most anything. But, the qualitative element tends to get overlooked. In the case of these 4 women, they really are of little to no quality once some insight about them was given. I can tell you personally that I am not impressed with any of them. They are average at best. And that’s okay. They are not for me. And, I may not be for them; especially considering that i am only of average height!

      Regarding your second point I think saying men are frightened of independent women is a gross overstatement. I wouldn’t go that far. Honestly, if a woman is independent, that’s great. One, she should be. Two, that means I don’t have to play a predefined role as a man, nor she as a woman. We can each be independent, non-traditional and happy. Obviously that doesn’t work for all men and women. A woman doesn’t have to ‘let’ a man be anything. If she recognizes herself as a woman and he as a man, then nature will take its course. But, creating an identity and presenting it prominently in an interaction or relationship is bound to present issues or something counterproductive.

      I totally agree with your third point. Women have very little idea as to what types of challenges traveling in packs presents for men. And let’s be honest, some of the women in the pack don’t want to see their friend have an opportunity with a man.

  7. Wary

    Perhaps there is a nuance here that missed, but even if 3 out of 4 of those women were single mothers, they were likely impregnated and rendered a “single mother” by a black man.

    • Official M-Dub

      Which confirms my point, how would that statistic have shaped the context of the report?

      What is the relationship these women have with their chikdren’s fathers?

      Were they in committed relationships before becoming impregnated?

      How do the single men that they claim they cannot find feel about women with children?

      Finally, even if they were impregnated and rendered single by black men, I find it highly doubtful that any of these men held a gun to their heads during the act of impregnating them.

      There are many variables at play; many of which were overlooked by ABC. That’s no justification for making sweeping generalizations because these women face challenges that are in many ways self created.

      Thank you for your reply.

  8. Vanessa

    When will we stop playing the blame game? Men blame women, women blame men but NO ONE is taking responsibility for their own actions. Problems in relationships have no limits to racial, social or economical status!!!

  9. Belinda

    In my opinion, the choices people make, are due to their level of understanding of their spirituality.

    Touching on the topic of “Black Avaliable Men, it is the choices they made but, what can we expect when many have been brought up in homes without fathers and, the same for our daughters.

    Let us not forget that it is the foundation we provide in raising them that they themselves give to their children.

    If one does not know what they are fighting for and know what to be watchful of, how can they expect to have the victory?

    It is one thing to be angry about the nagativity and another to do more than speak in outrage about it.

    Has anyone told them that their strength and power to change, lies within themselves?

    I can understand your frustration for being stero typed but until we provide understanding regarding the evils, of this world, they will continue to fall victim to the hype and the statistics will continue to post negative results.

    How do you break a person down?

    You break their Spirit. You make them beleive that they have no choices because there is no one to teach them and build them up and show them how to break the cycle.

    The same applies to the ladies seeking marriage with the so called man of their dreams.
    How will they know when they find him if every man they meet falls into a category?

    In seeking a relationship, we should be open enough within ourselves not to engrave our likes and dislikes, in stone. When we tunnel vision, we automatically eleviate any potential candidates for a fullfilling relationship. We also must define what to be married, means to us.
    First and foremost, their should be friendship because through building a friendship, we learn each others likes and dislikes. Through building friendship, we give ourselves the opportunity to find out if we contribute to one anothers life. In learning to be friends first we get the opportunity to decide how far we want the relationship to go or in which direction it will take.

    In listening to the ladies on the comentary discuss their inability to find a man who meets their requirements, I thought, how sad that they do not realize that, they are the reason that they have not found their mates.

    I don’t think a shortage of men is the issue at all because there is someone for everyone.

    What are they looking for, someone who loves and adores them or are they seeking the material things in life and a love that won’t make it through the test of time when the financial expectations change?

    A marriage relationships is give and take. When one is weak, the other is strong. Each has to realize that it is no longer what I want but, about what we want.

    In our spirituality we learn to appreciate the finer things in life like, being appreciated for the little things that makes us smile just thinking about it. We learn to appreciate knowing that we are loved beyond the physical act, beyond what we can give outside of ourselves.

    Respect, Trust, and openess between one another are great starting points in building a friendship but, if we judge a person by how tall they are or how much money they make, we limit our possibilities of finding true love and happiness.

    What good is it to have a whole lot of money when, there is no one to share it with?

    I believe that the young ladies have no idea what love truly is and just want to say they have a full life because they are married, after all, this is what society expectsthat ABC’s Nightline, is just trying to make headlines by creating controversy with the negative.

    I challenge my brothers to make it a positive and find a way to teach our brothers that do not know what it is to be a man/father, how to be.

    Peace,

    • Official M-Dub

      You made some very profound and enlightening statements. I agree on all points. I do think it requires looking within and being honest with ourselves about our situations as they stand. I also agree that it is important to have a true grasp of what is important.

      Thank you very much for your commentary. I hope that you will continue to push this message out for the world to see. So many people need to be touched by it.

  10. EXCERPT TAKEN FROM PART 9 CRISIS OF THE BLACK MALE “THE BREEDING GROUND FOR SELF HATE” (Fallen Letters: Mis-Education & Intellectual Confusion (Essays on the Black Experience) FreedomJournal Press, 2007)
    We would also be remiss if we did not note the scheme of dissension seen in the upward mobility of Black women. Once again we will preface our comments with a statement. We are not making any claims as to the lack of ability and skill of many Black women. Thus, many Black female professionals are deserving of the new found positions in administration etc.

    We do note that in many instances the promotion of Black women has been done to cause havoc and ruin within the Black family and the Black community. Many Black female professionals that rise above their husbands in income and job position often take on a different value system. This value system is generated by racism with the expected results of disunity within the family and the Black community. Thus many of these women denounce their Black husband for White men and take on a general attitude of dis-respect for Black men.

    Do Black women receive concessions from the institution of racism for dis-respecting Black men? Historically in America and the Diaspora there has been a different relationship between the Black man and the Black woman with the White man. Therefore Black women and/or the Black community should be well aware and not deny this great difference. This is the difference that allows a Black woman to find employment before the Black man. This is the difference that produces a non-threatening relationship in the work place for Black women and throughout society.

    The Gay Rights Movement and the so-called Feminists Movement have confused many Back women. From our analysis these two movements have help to destroy the Black family and the Black community. These movements impact on the crisis of the Black male because they further confuse Black women about their role in the family. Women have become heads of household not by the order of society but by certain circumstances. Any philosophy that calls on women to challenge the position of the man in the home is tampering with the order of society and destructive to the basic foundation of the family.

    As we close this series, we call on the Black man and the Black woman to respect each other. We also trust that you have gained from the various articles we have recorded. Our purpose has been only to record specific historical data that has impacted on the Crisis of the Black Male.

    I leave you with several scriptures from the Book of Proverbs the Wisdom Book:
    Proverbs 27:6: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of a enemy are deceitful.”
    Proverbs 1: 7: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

  11. kc

    I just stumbled across this website/post after seeing the ABC news report. I have to admit that as a black woman who is looking for something more than a hood rat man I have fallen into the media trap that has been set in the past decade or so. Magazines like Essence jumped on the bandwagon big time in their coverage of D.L. men, and professional women having such a hard time finding a “good man.” We as women are bombarded with this message! Not only from mainstream media like ABC, but also from our own publications like Essence. And I was a faithful Essence reader for many years. After a while, you really start to believe the hype. Even Oprah has jumped on it (with Steve Harvey). After reading your post it’s like I got hit over the head with an aha moment. We NEVER NEVER get a real black man’s perspective. Somehow the media thinks that Steve Harvey is THE sole voice for all black men. I listed to the podcast of Mr. Elite (commented above) and he makes some very valid points and eye opening points about this issue. I wish that more black men were given a voice in this discussion. That’s what’s missing and it’s refreshing to have stumbled across this post and gotten the male perspective for once.

    I’ll admit that I have let a couple of good potential men slide by in my past. I was a lot younger and had a lot to learn. I am trying to now learn from my mistakes and not be so quick to judge. I still run into a lot of hood rats out here (men with prison records, wives, lots of kids, etc.), but I’m keeping my eyes open for someone with something going on for himself. Thank you for posting your response to this issue. I think as women we need to start speaking up to these media outlets when they run stories like this — ESPECIALLY women who have found good men. They need to say, “Hey, look at us. Why don’t you run a story about the 50% of black couples who are in good relationships????” They are quick to site the negative side of the statistic, but there’s another side to that same coin.

    Find love wherever you can. If it’s with a black man/woman, cool. If it’s outside of your race, cool. Just be open to whatever and be happy.

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