I was YouTube browsing when I came across a clip from a 2012 documentary entitled Qualified, Yet Single: Why Good Men Remain Single. This film is addressing the increasing number of men who are choosing to live bachelor lifestyles here in the United States, advising that for every 100 single women there are 88 single men. Men living alone has now grown from 5.6% to 11.8% in the last 4 decades, which isn’t much of a surprise since only half of Americans now are married and 61% of those under the age of 35 live without a spouse or a partner, according to The Hill.
Although this topic has been touched on in a previous post, I’ve recently started questioning singlehood in relations to my community—more specifically, African American men. There’s always been are very biased narrative in the media, notably from Negropean outlets like Essence Magazine, BET, OWN, TV One and the likes, who arrogantly try to explain why so many Black men in America don’t want to get married or be in a monogamous relationship that may eventually lead to marriage or a lifetime commitment. The responses always tend to be very stereotypical and/or from the perspective of Black women. So I decided to do a little research and an NPR poll that I found, conducted by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, stated that 1/3 of its Black respondents—between the ages of 18-49, who were either divorced, widowed, or had never been married—were seeking to be in a committed long-term relationship; 43% of those being Black men compared to 25% being Black women.
Shocker, ladies, I know. A great deal of us actually want to be in a relationship. But based off of the declining marriage rates and consistent complaints from women who want an eligible, Black male partner but may have trouble finding one, being optimistic about the search seems very bleak in this day and age. So the question still needs to be asked: Why are there so many single Black men in America?
Well, here are 3 reasons why.
Antonio Moore from ToneTalks has been doing a great job at shining a light on the current economic plight of Black America. He’s advised that Black Americans only own 2.6% of the National Wealth and Black households are at the bottom 50%, worth less than 1 dollar; a middle Black family of 3 is only worth $1700. If you add in the 45% jobless rate and 10,000 per 100,000 incarceration rate of Black men, which would affect the type of job/income that many would qualify for, we don’t come out looking like eligible long-term mates in the eyes of women or ourselves.
As a millennial, I’ve heard women within my age group openly say that they want their mate to have an income that’s equivalent to theirs or higher; if her annual salary ranges from $80-90,000, then his needs to as well. Because there is a lifestyle that she needs to maintain, and downgrading is not an option. So when a lot of Black men hear that, especially those whose salaries range from $30-40,000 or less, it diminishes our self-esteem. We may be a good catch (loving, responsible, God-fearing), but if our litmus test to being a quality mate is solely based off our bank account, then it becomes easier for us to choose the more stressless and single route.
There was a quote from Dr. John Henrik Clarke, which stated, “to control a people you must first control what they think about themselves and how they regard their history and culture. And when your conqueror makes you ashamed of your culture and your history, he needs no prison walls and no chains to hold you.” Which speaks volumes about certain elements of African American culture, particularly the portion that is magnified and celebrated in the media today.
Most of the images I’ve seen of Black men throughout western media has been negative and emasculating, especially when it came to our relationship with women. Almost all of the men were either deadbeats, abusive thugs, pimps, or just all-around minstrel shows. If it wasn’t for my father, uncles, and other mentors who gave me a clear example of what manhood was, I would’ve been a lost cause. And what many need to start acknowledging, specifically those who have constantly critiqued the behavior of Black American men, is the social programming that we’ve been anchored under since birth. If most of what you see and hear throughout your childhood is your worthlessness via film, television, and music, the last thing you’re going to think about as an adult is becoming a responsible husband and father.
As I’ve mentioned before throughout this blog, there’s a lack of empathy within my community regarding our mental, emotional, and spiritual state. To have the history that we have yet still pretend like our internal healing can take a backseat just proves that we’re a little crazier than we think. And I’m fine to say it because I know that we do a lot of things to keep from breaking down. But the issue comes in when we don’t realize that this plays a factor in our relationships.
I’ve heard some Black men say that they don’t trust anyone, especially women, but will still get into a relationship and wonder why it never works out. A lot of us mistakenly think that bravado, sexual prowess, and “swag” can overcompensate for being emotionally unhealthy. If we’re not having serious conversations about rectifying wounds from childhood abuse, abandonment, racism, or lack of self-love, then being a stable mate is out of the question.
The apprehension that a lot of Black American men have in terms of monogamous relationships is valid, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t looking for one. Everyone wants to be loved, and we need a special kind of love. So to the women out there, particularly Black women who love them some brothas, be patient. We’re out here, we just need to get ourselves right first.
Until Next Time…
Debby, G. (2013, June 4). New Survey Takes A Snapshot Of The View From Black America. Retrieved November 12, 2017, from https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/06/04/188301149/new-survey-takes-a-snapshot-of-the-view-from-black-america
Wilson, R. (2017, October 12). More Americans are living alone after recession. Retrieved November 12, 2017, from http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/355122-more-americans-are-living-alone-after-recession
John Henrik Clarke Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2017, from http://www.azquotes.com/author/2941-John_Henrik_Clarke