I remember when we were younger and in college. If you wanted to have an event that was guaranteed a crowd but without a DJ? You had a “male-female relationship” forum. We’ve got something very similar going on now in black blogs. Over at Jack and Jill and in at least one other place I frequent folks are bringing up what is a contemporary challenge in black communities–the diminishing number of available black men. One response from black women is to expand their dating pool to nonblack men in general–a response that garners extreme criticism from some quarters. Another response–much smaller–is to explore relationships with other women. And a third response is to pursue relationships with black men, sometimes sharing black men with other women.
As the parent of two daughters, I’m concerned about this reality, and I don’t think it’s going to get better soon. In fact I think it’ll soon get worse, not just for black (and Latina) women, but for women in general. At the very least at the higher tiers–I’ve taught around 60 kids this year, and fewer than 20 of them were men.Â What this means for me is simple–to the extent I can control it, I socialize my daughters to be willing to date men who are not black. The numbers just don’t work unless we consider polygamy a serious option because at any given point because of structural factors there are always many more powerful women than there are men. One of the commenters at Jack and Jill noted that we’re in a civil war and we need to get our own house in order before we even consider dating outside of the race.
This point of view is understandable, but backwards. One of the reasons why we are at war with one another is because of extreme competition over scarce resources–men. By having a restricted dating pool, heterosexual women end up at war with other women…and inevitably end up at war with black men.
For an interesting look at this perspective, take a listen to this story. Farai doesn’t dig into the politics her that much but this is still worth a listen. What concerns me is that while we try to mobilize around long term solutions, we aren’t paying adequate attention to what we need to do NOW to keep people safe and sane.