12:14 PM 11/9/2017 Thu
Word count: 3,649
“One of the hardest things I have to do out here, is to educate Black people as to the difference between a actual fact and an opinion; most Black folk think that if they don’t like a fact they can just dismiss it and say, “I don’t believe that”. You can disbelieve anything you want, that don’t make the facts less true – it just makes you a disbeliever.”
Among the many hot topics on what is known as “Black social media” is whether what has been referred to as the “Black gender war” even exists – and if it does, (Black) women are “winning” it. A most interesting “take”, since both positions are antithetical to each other. Nevertheless, professional dating coach Alan Roger Currie threads this seemingly impossible needle, arguing for the former in his most recent column for the Negro Manosphere (“What Is the Future of Black Relationship Coaches & Relationship Experts?”, Mon, Nov 6, 2017) and vociferously arguing for the latter to the point of damn near foaming at the mouth, in an Oct 24, 2017 YouTube video entitled, “Face the Facts: Women are WINNING the so-called Gender War”. In the interest of full disclosure, I responded to the latter with a series of podcasts of my own, asking for evidence to support the wild-eyed claims (and supplying plenty of my own in support of my position to the contrary). Currie’s response was, sadly, all too typcial of Black folk these days – make a fool out of themselves and call their interlocutors names, instead of actually responding to their claims with countervailing evidence.
So, in this article, I go once more unto the breach to show and prove how and why Currie is just wrong, wrong, wrong on the facts – and highlight how and why Black dating coaches “never were” when it comes to fostering a thriving Black clientele and by extension, a “Black Love”. Tighten your chinstrap!
Begun, The Black Gender Wars Have
So, to begin here, we have to ask if there is indeed a “Black gender war” – and the short and sweet answer is YES. Besides the fact that this is the stuff of “Black entertainment” – ever seen a Tyler Perry movie? – one need go no further than YouTube – the world’s single biggest social media platform – to see the evidence for yourself. In just this year alone, we have seen evidence of this “war” playing itself out, in the form of a coalition of Black female YouTube personalities, attempting to silence Black male YouTubers from airing their harsh (and true!) critiques of Black female behavior. “Hit lists” were generated of the chief “offenders” of the Sistahood and a targeted campaign of false flagging their video content was waged on the part of the aforementioned Black female YouTubers and their fangirls. Not to be outdone and I’m sure much to the surprise and chagrin of the Sistahood, the brothas fought back, hard, by forging their own flagging campaign and more. The final result wound up with Black male YouTubers remaining on YouTube, while the Black female YouTubers saw themselves in considerable disarray, mostly from insider catfighting (what else is new when a bunch of Black women get together for any extended length of time?).
The question here is, when did all this get started – and how did it get started in the first place? As something of an observer of these and related events over roughly the past decade, I think I have some answers.
First, we have to consider some salient, sobering facts: one, that Black women have, until very recently, had a de facto monopoly on the conversation on gender dymanics in Black America, in the form of media geared specifically to them like Oprah, Essence, Ebony and in more recent years, Madame Noire, For Harriet and Clutch Magazine – this doesn’t include the more mainstream media outlets and the like. From at least the early 1980s (think Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple”) until roughly 2007 or so – nearly three decades(!) – Black women have had advocates and spokesmen and women in both the Black and White media, telling their side of the story in terms of gender relations – and the story was always the same: Black women good, Black men bad.
Things changed in a big way in the latter years of the first decade of the New Millennium, however. Thanks to the democratizing power of social media in the form of Facebook and YouTube, the everyday brotha now had a chance to have his voice to be heard. You no longer needed huge sums of money, jump tall buildings worth of red tape or “know the right people” in order to get your side of the story out – all you needed was an internet connection and a smartphone. And for those out there who may want to argue that Black men have always had Hip Hop, with its “gangsta rap” variant’s seemingly “misogynistic” output, consider this: the barriers to entry in that field was and even to this day, remain high. You’re talking about a small group of Black men who had the talent, were able to get the equipment and studio time and able to garner major record label deals, to be heard. Facebook, YouTube and the social media platforms to follow, truly broke down the barriers to entry that would allow the likes of Sargent Willie Pete, Tommy Sotomayor and Jason Black, aka The Black Authority, just to name a small few, to be heard in their own voices, in their own idioms – unedited and uncut.
Because of this paradigm shift, for the first time, the proxies for Black women in the Black and White media had to actually debate the issues. No longer were the rank and file Black man going to take “The Color Purple” narrative – and let’s be clear here, it was and remains a narrative (more on this below) – they demanded that such a narrative be challenged, and while they were at it, they had some choice things to say about the shortcomings of Black women themselves. Black men from every walk of life either directly chimed in by becoming content creators in this new social media space, or they supported those who were.
It was how yours truly got his start, in fact.
Today, to even the most casual observer, there is indeed a war going on, on Black social media, between Black men and Black women. We can quibble over the hows and whys; but the bottomline, is that the battle, has truly been joined.
So, among the questions that remain, is whether the claims on both sides have any empirical validity or not…
Anecdote Is NOT The Sum Of Data
In his piece, Currie commits the common logical fallacy of attempting to draw an equivalency between the warring factions in Black America; I quote:
“According to social media sites such as YouTube, many Black men feel like the vast majority of Black women in today’s society are “unmarriageable” due to their promiscuous tendencies, the prevalence of out-of-wedlock births, and rampant obesity.
On the female side, many Black women feel that a good number of Black men are financially irresponsible and lack ambition; are only interested in short-term and/or non-monogamous ‘casual’ sex as opposed to long-term romance and marriage; and they place way too much emphasis on outer (physical) beauty rather than a woman’s moral character, integrity, and personality.”
Before I address the above, it is very important to point out the gross limitations of bringing hard and fast data to bear on these Black mating issues and questions. The very simple reason for this is something that both Georgetown University noted in a recent report, as well as a recent news story appearing on Yahoo! News, where both indicated that less than 10% of Black college graduates hold degrees in a STEM field:
These findings are extremely important, for one very important reason: because we don’t have a braintrust of Black “quants” who are able to ferret out the facts in terms of actually doing a “head count”. We can quibble over the reasons why so few Blacks are learned in the STEM fields, but the real world implications of this result in what we all saw back in Sep of this year – when Damon Young, of Very Smart Brothas fame, wrote a completely STEM-bereft hit piece on Black men – there was absolutely no data whatsoever cited to guide the discussion. As Dr. Tommy Curry (no relation to Alan Roger Currie, as far as I know) noted in a followup appearance on popular Black female YouTuber Yvette Carnell’s channel, what Young did is hardly unique or unusual – it is fact, sadly, the norm. Young, a liberal arts major with a degree in English from an obscure college in Pennsylvania, is “standard issue” among “Black thinkers” in Black America today – they not only aren’t qualified to discuss these issues in any meaningful way, but they are given free reign to do so by the rank and file Black American – especially Black females themselves. Which brings me to the next highly salient point:
Black America has shown a marked antipathy toward anything that smacks of the empirical – Currie himself exemplifies this, despite the fact that he is the scion of college educated parents themselves and that he holds a degree in Economics from a major “big state” university(!).
Credentialed vs. Non-Credentialed “Experts” & How Much Has Alan’s Looks Helped Him?
Black people in general have a general distrust of “The White Man’s Statistics” – that’s the only way I can convey this notion – and it is pervasive, that is to say, it extends well beyond “the hood”, as Currie himself aptly demonstrates. It’s one thing to have a healthy skepticism of any data you come across – but that’s not what goes on in Black America. There, ANYTHING that comes outside of one’s personal experience, narrative and “truth” – ESPECIALLY if it hails from Whites themselves – is immediately seen as suspect, if not outright “wrong”, sight unseen. All of this amounts to what can only be rightly described as “he said/she said” “discussions” in Black America – and which contributes to how and why we really can’t get to any meaningful solutions to the problems that beset Black American mating in our time today – and I say, that this state of affairs may not be by accident.
So, with all that being said, are the claims as Currie purports them to be, actually true? Let’s start with his take of Black women’s concerns:
Black Women’s Concerns About Black Men
1. Black men are “fiscally irresponsible and lack ambition”: according to Howard University professor Ivory Toldson, Black men are not only making strides insofar as college education and earnings are concerned, they’re doing so at unprecedented numbers. Even un-educated Black men significantly outearn Black women who possess degrees. Moreover, as the website Black Demographics makes clear, the average Black man outearns the average Black woman – again, this in the face that Black men face more obstacles in the labor market than do Black women. Seems like the sistas’ laments in this regard is shaky, at best…
2. Black men are only interested in casual sex as opposed to long term relationships and marriage: again, this is an opinion and not a fact. Again, according to Black Demographics, who gets its data directly from the US Census, there are more married Black men than Black women; Black men divorce at lower rates than do Black women; and, according to the Pew Research Center, Black men “marry out” at a rate of at least two to one over Black women. Put this together with the historical fact that for much of the 20th century, Black men were the largest cohort of married American men in the entire country. Sounds to me like the facts don’t jibe very well with the opinions and “narratives” of the Black women Currie has been lending his ears to. Hmm.
3. Black men place too much emphasis on physical beauty than moral character and integrity: well, boo-hoo ladies, that’s the way of the world! A woman’s physical beauty has been and will always be her number one trump card in the mating dance – get over it. What’s interesting here, is whether Black women of old held this view – probably not, since they were nowhere near as obese as most Black women are today – which brings us to the Black men claims as per Currie’s assessment:
Black Men’s Concerns About Black Women
1. Black women are “rampantly obese”: correct. According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA, a federal government agency, Black women are the fattest women in the country, by a country mile. It’s gotten so bad, that even the prestigious Spelman College, has gotten in on the act, in a desperate attempt to stem the tide of “large and in charge” ladies swelling their college ranks. This brings up a very, very important point that Currie tries to deny – that the Black female obesity problem isn’t one limited to social class; but rather, it is a phenomena that can be easily observed regardless as to the educational level of the Black women involved. Again, Spelman is a case in point – and, since it is the “sister college” to HBCU powerhouse Morehouse, this raises significant challenges in getting the two student bodies paired off. Now let’s be honest – Black men are renown for their willingness to be a bit more forgiving in the dress size department with the sistas – but things have totally gone off the rails. “Thick” has now become Jabba the Hutt FAT, there’s just no other way of putting it, folks – and that DOES have an effect on the mating grounds in Black America. There’s simply no getting around that fact – pardon the pun. So it seems to me that Black men have a “there”, there.
2. Black women are too promiscuous: while there isn’t any hard and fast data on this point (see above), I think it fair to say that men in general, regardless of color, aren’t very keen on wifing up a woman who’s known to be the village bike, so to speak (you know, where everyone can get a ride). There’s a very simple, evolutionary reason for this: women who were “easy” historically speaking, were more likely to get pregnant during one of her trysts, and this would make things problematic in terms of who the daddy was. You can like it or lump it, but men aren’t crazy about the idea of caring for and ponying up the cash for a kid or kids that may or may not be his own. Again, there aren’t any hard and fast data bearing on this matter, so I can’t confirm or deny the brothas’ claims in this regard, so on this score, I’m willing to grant Currie a solid on this one.
3. Black women have too many kids out of wedlock: how anyone can disagree with this one is truly beyond me. It’s a matter of public record that Black women far and away lead the pack in this regard; last time I checked, over 70% of all live births that occur in Black America today do so out of wedlock – and it ain’t the teenagers of the Black American “hoods” that are dropping the loads, either. Jill Scott, is a case in point. After her first marriage ended, the singer/actress/poet gave birth to a child out of wedlock, then went on to make the case as to how she could do just fine in raising the child – a boy – by herself, with the help of her (all female) family. Nor is such a mindset unusual in Black America today. Again, one doesn’t need to be a think tank policy wonk to know the facts on this score – nor is it hard to see how any Black man wouldn’t be too keen to take on such a headache.
So, to tally it up, it seems to me that the brothas are standing on firmer empirical grounds than the sistas – 0-3 vs. 2-3, respectively.
And Currie is seriously gonna argue for a “middle ground” with a straight face? Really?
The Way Black Dating Coaches Never Were
Finally, there’s the notion Currie asserts, that not only have Black dating coaches been a driving force in Black American mating life, but they will continue to be. As always, Currie is strong on pronouncements and weak on empirical evidence. Notice how he doesn’t present any in his piece. Surprise, surprise, eh?
Well, as I noted above in this essay, it will be very difficult for us to get any hard and fast empirical numbers as to what impact, if any, the Black dating coach industry has on Black American mating life. However, we can look through a glass darkly, if the data we do have, by way of America’s various governmental agencies, is anything to go by.
For example: we know that marriage in Black America, is at all-time lows since US Census records have been kept on the matter, dating from around circa 1890. And before Currie responds with his pat “marriage is down for ALL groups in America”, let me concede his point right now – he’s right. Marriage is indeed down for all racial groups in the country.
But we’re not talking about “ALL” racial groups – as the title of Currie’s own article itself suggests – we’re talking about BLACK PEOPLE. And on THAT front, the data as best we have it, indicates that at best, the impact Black dating and relationship coaches have had on Black America, has been null. If not worse.
The other very important question we have to ask in light of Currie’s piece, is exactly to what extent do Black people, men and women both, make use of dating, relationship and matchmaking services? Again, hard and fast industry data in this regard is scant if not totally nonexistant – and I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m loathe to rely on personal anecdote from the very people who have a vested interest to put the best possible face on their profession – like Currie.
But, with that said, I do find it incredibly odd, that someone like Currie – a Black dating coach who’s entire career has been spent being a dating coach for a mostly non-Black clientele – can even deign to weigh in on such issues in the first place. By his own admission, Black men make up at best, a distant 4th or 5th of his paying clients, since it’s very odd that Currie can make such comments with such certainty.
Moreover, one Ms. Rebecca Lynn Pope, a fellow “Black dating coach” of some repute (at least as much if not moreso than Currie himself), took to YouTube to announce how and why she was no longer in the matchmaking business for Black women – in her own words, it was due to Black women themselves having “unrealistic standards” when it came to Black men. That video has since gone viral, having garnered over 200K views and a truckload of controversey in the form of a number of “response” videos from a number of the aggrieved sistas on YouTube. While again admittedly anecdotal, Ms. Pope’s video would suggest that Black dating coaches have nowhere near the “pull” that Currie would like to suggest – keep in mind, that even he doesn’t have much pull insofar as Black men themselves are concerned. This is by his own admission, I might add.
As researchers as Ralph Richard Banks, Andrew Hacker and others have noted, Black men and women are increasingly living apart from each other; “pump and dump”, has become the “new normal” in Black America. While that might be dispiriting to read and crude to hear, and while we don’t have smoking gun empirical proof to bear it out, we do have all manner of anecdotal evidence that at the very least, gives us all pause in the face of claims that Black dating coaches are, have been and always will be, a force in Black American mating life. As Sister Shahrazad Ali said a generation ago, Black people can’t agree on anything – and it’s hard to see us “coming together” anytime soon.
As for Currie’s parting shot about “letting the healing begin”, it occurs to this observer, that this can only happen when Black women themselves are honest about the darker, more unseemly sides of themselves and are willing to address them. So long as they remain in denial about it; so long as they remain belligerent in the face of uncontrovertible facts about it; and so long as they lash out at anyone – and I mean anyone – who dares to tell them the truth about it – there can and will be no “healing”.
Given all that we know about Black women at large – pardon the pun – we’re well advised not to hold our breath.
Mumia Obsidian Ali is a citizen journalist, talk show host and podcaster heard daily on “Obsidian Radio” on YouTube!