“A Quick Reflection on Social Class and Dating in the Black Community…” by T. Hasan Johnson, Ph.D. 

I frequently read these articles (see below) that are targeted toward sisters to point out their struggles, but seldom see them written for black males. Whether to explain how widespread and systemic black male oppression is (or the telling difference in why our sister’s oppression is so different that they do not recognize ours); or to explain why even when you do have a graduate degree and a comparable job, you might still make less (and take longer) to reach financial parity with many sisters–only to STILL have her treat you like the social pariah who lives with his mother…In essence, many of the dating issues between Black men and women are all about social class: the extent to which our sisters have a degree of access to the middle-class, and our brothers are overwhelmingly barred/hampered from it. As stated in the article below, “The Pew Research Center reports that there are only 51 employed, never-married young black men between the ages of 25 and 34 for every 100 black women in the same boat.

NewsOne reports that “women between the ages of 22 and 30, without children, had bigger paychecks in 2008 than their male peers in 47 of the 50 largest U.S. cities.” These women, on average, had wages that were 8 percent higher than those of their black male counterparts, highlighting the high probability that a black woman will outearn her mate. A Harvard Business Review article found that black men earn the least in comparison with their counterparts of other ethnicities at every level of education. So there is a possibility that you will make more than your mate, and preparing for that conversation can be daunting.”

An interesting question to ask is, what do you think such an income difference does to our community? (HINT: It certainly challenges how we perceive male and female familial roles, but on a larger scale it has disrupted relationship practices, ideas about leadership, and even political mobilization!)

Too much of the time we reduce these issues to the individual decision-making of the average Black male rather than look at why the school-to-prison pipeline is so hyperproductive. Or why 1 in 12 Black males will have to deal with incarceration… In other words, we overlook the power of systemic forms of oppression and focus on the one male in question. But if that form of Black male erasure wasn’t enough, we’ve found new ways to make Black males invisible (a la Becky Pettit)! Because women as a whole make up a central part of today’s media buying market, we talk about the deaths of males by cops or the hyper-incarceration of Black males in terms of how it makes the women adversely impacted feel (which sells magazines). From news articles to protest movements, there is increasing focus on how the fallout of Black male underdevelopment impacts the females in their lives (the daughters, wives, mothers, etc.), and although there is nothing inherently wrong with looking at such impacts, it is being done INSTEAD OF looking at Black male underdevelopment, as if it is not valid that it hurts Black males on its own merit, but that it is valid only BECAUSE it hurts Black females.

So in the article tagged below, like so many others, Black male oppression is only relevant because it leaves Black women with fewer dating options, but says nothing about how this form of social erasure and economic underdevelopment impacts Black males, especially now that Black women’s empowerment has become a necessity because of Black male erasure. New forms of leadership and new leadership models that highlight Black female development are celebrated (and should be), but no one talks about whysuch newness is occurring at its current rate. No one is asking why the next generation of Black leaders will overwhelmingly be female in the Black community, it’s just celebrated on its surface merit–and some sisters are so ambitious that they’re willing to profit from Black male pain and claim oppressions that statistically impact Black males to a greater degree, claiming that it’s Black men’s fault that they don’t get more attention! Such dramatic changes are happening because almost 1.5 million Black males are missing, and for the most part they are a missing tribe whose location is well-known…and their absence is felt in every facet of Black life.




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