Study claims Black men hold Black women back, but seems like salt in a wound

Yet another divisive piece of research surfaces about why Black women and Black men are so mismatched. But by now, isn't this overkill?

Black women

Monday evening the Brookings Institute tweeted out the findings of their latest study, with the provocative headline, “Black women have similar odds of escaping poverty as white women—until they marry Black men”

It’s also worth nothing that the tweet was posted with a picture of three Black boys playing outside their home, one of them looking forlornly at the camera, seemingly left to wonder where their deadbeat daddy ran off to.

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Clearly, this masterpiece of sensationalism was meant to be clickbait and unfortunately it succeeded. By morning Black men and women were cosigning and/or debating the merits of these findings, all of them essentially asking the same question, “Is love just not in the cards for sisters who love Black men anymore?”

As a Black woman myself, my first reaction to all this hooplah was to let out a deep Harriet Tubman-esque sigh of both fatigue and annoyance, because frankly — I have some questions.

First off, WHY?!

What exactly was the intention of this study?

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Why even bother telling us what many of us already know about our community treating Black women as mules who are fit to bear children, birth social justice movements, and get educations at rates that far exceed our peers — while still not being deemed desirable enough to be “marriage material”?

What purpose does picking at the age old scab serve?

Well, according to Brookings they were making “an attempt to estimate the impact of different marriage rates.”

“We confirm the stark differences in upward earnings mobility for Black men compared to both Black women and whites,” they write. “We also confirm that Black women, despite their solid earnings mobility, have very low family income mobility.”

There is so much to unpack there I honestly don’t know where to begin.

Ever since slavery – (yes – I’m about to bring up the long standing social and economic ramifications of slavery on Black American families – roll your eyes now and get it over with) – African American women have had to watch their men violently ripped away from them, treated like cattle, and then sent back to them in shambles…. or just not be sent back at all.

Fast forward several hundred years later to a system with a classroom-to-prison pipeline, where brothers have been disproportionately incarcerated for non-violent offenses (like getting caught with a dime bag of weed) and that same scenario is still playing itself off to this day.

America has a long history of intentionally ripping Black families apart, leaving Black women alone to fend for ourselves, and then gawking in confusion when we create magic in spite of our circumstances.

But now you want to do research pointing out that we have problems maintaining healthy loving relationships with men you continuously send back to us broken?

No. Just stop.


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There is something so suspect and disingenuous about the “intellectual curiosity” behind this study (and the many others like it) that I can’t even pretend to take it seriously anymore.

And before anyone says, “But Blue – what about the brothers who aren’t locked up in jail or broken down by the system? What’s their excuse?”

First off, systemic oppression is not an excuse, its a very real and ongoing trap built to make us “work twice as hard to get half as far.”

And secondly, show me a Black person who hasn’t in some way been influenced either directly or indirectly by that system and… well you’d probably be talking about Ben Carson and the rest of his tribe – but that’s a whole other conversation in itself.

I do agree though that at some point we all have to take accountability for how we show up in the world.

To a certain degree we get to decide how we see ourselves, who we open our hearts to, and where we set our personal boundaries. That also includes knowing which narratives to feed and which ones to take with a grain of salt.

Every time one of these “Black men all suck and Black women are destined to die alone” studies comes out they always spark hurtful, divisive and alienating discussions where everyone is screaming (or tweeting) out from a place of pain but no one is actually listening to each other.

And I can’t help but wonder how much of that is by design – or at the very least a self full-filling prophecy?

I’ve always believed that “whatever you feed — grows” and there is a lot of money to be made in constantly feeding this narrative that Black people are somehow pathologically predisposed to have crappy relationships with each other.

Black women are constantly told our men don’t want us, and Black men are constantly told that our women are bitter, loud and angry. Is it really any wonder that we tend to walk into these dialogues closed off, and already harboring resentments and frustrations that further fuel the divide between us?

These jokers who peddle the “Black love is impossible” rhetoric are exploiting some very real pain, and creating a fog of disillusionment all for the sake of gaining traffic and ad revenue on their websites. It always comes down to pushing propaganda for a profit.

And frankly, I’m sick of it.

Sis, if you are reading this – please know that you are enough and that there are men out there (Black and otherwise) who find you attractive, desirable and deserving.

And brothers, yes – we really are magic. And history has shown we consistently have your backs even when you piss us off. Please acknowledge that.

Next time, I say someone do a study on how Black people continue to find ways to love and support each other despite living in a world built to make us think that never happens.

Be good (and listen) to each other folks.

Don’t be a statistic.

Follow Blue Telusma on Instagram at @bluecentric