Pastor Jomo K. Johnson penned his new tome Call Tyrone: Why Black Women Should Remain Single Or… in response to what he witnessed within his North Philadelphia flock. Single black women are abundant in his church, in a reflection of the larger urban neighborhood in which his congregation resides. The minister believes that previous books have addressed this widespread problem, but have failed to tackle the issue from the deeply religious perspective. Call Tyrone aims to change that.
“I know that African-American women make up such a large number of the African-American church, and they’re not finding how to hold relationships, how to hold husbands. I feel like there’s a real strong need for the subject to be spoken about, from a pastoral standpoint,” Johnson said in an interview with The Christian Post. “People have talked about it from a social standpoint, but I think it’s important […] to address it from a Christian pastoral standpoint.”
Johnson provides that absent Christian perspective on the single black woman phenomenon that has been reported on so widely. By including biblical passages to support his ideas, without being too “Bible heavy” (as he put it), Johnson uses Call Tyrone to counter criticisms that the black church “keeps black women single.”
In the viral 2010 essay, How Black Churches Keep African American Women Single and Lonely, the author claims that too many black women attend church thinking God will send them a Godly man while being exploited by the preacher and the few men there socially, economically, and even sexually.
Call Tyrone offers a counter argument. What distinguishes it from other black dating books by men — and yes it is named after the Erykah Badu song — is Johnson’s suggestion that the single life within the church is a gift from God. Not a curse, but a blessing.
“First and foremost, [I] have a desire to inform and educate all women that they are precious and priceless in the sight of God,” he said. “Because of that, a woman shouldn’t lower herself in any way. In the book what I seek to do is exalt and extol the value of singleness; how it can be a gift of God [and] how it is a blessed gift. The Lord Jesus was single, and he was able to embrace his singleness and use it for the purpose of ministry. I also point to women in history who have given their lives in singleness and really thought to serve others. Singleness is something that the Bible really condones and promotes.”
Johnson also proudly asserts that Call Tyrone does not place the entire onus of African-American dating on the black woman. Johnson wants black men to share in their responsibility for creating the circumstances in which 55% of African-American women are unmarried — the highest rate of any race.
Towards this end, the pastor hopes “this book also serves as a wake-up call to African-American men who aren’t taking care of their own lives, [and] who aren’t seeking to be faithful or responsible to African-American women in their community,” he told The Christian Post.
Call Tyrone does recommend that black women seriously consider interracial dating as do many experts, but Johnson makes it clear that this can be done within the rubric of Christian values.
In these ways, Johnson’s beliefs present a unique voice in a sea of prophets claiming to know what heterosexual African-American women need to do to land their Prince Charming.
The concept of being content alone is not new to black women, many of whom have discovered this as a solution without a self-help book. Black women have learned to love themselves within singledom, and for many the spiritual nourishment of the church empowers them to do this.
For those who are religious, Call Tyrone might be a manifesto that calms the fears fanned by other dating books by men — in addition to the specials, articles and various media reports that have dissected black woman’s dating problems without offering many solutions.
Call Tyrone: Why Black Women Should Remain Single Or… will be released on June 1. Following big hits like Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man and copycat books like Michael Baesden’s Do Women Know What They Want?, Johnson has carved a creative niche for himself in the genre of dating books by black men for black women — ironically by advocating happy celibacy.
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb