Archive for April, 2010

Are Marriage rates trumping our Unemployment rates?

While the rest of the Black Blogosphere is still reeling from that Nightline Faceoff about why Successful Black Women Can’t Find a Man (I guess unsuccessful Black women fare better, whatever that means), I think we’re all failing to pay attention to a bigger issue: why successful Black women can’t find a job.

A friend of mine shared this NY Times chart that shows  how different groups are effecting certain groups of people. Depending on what group you select (Black Women, White men with a degree, Black men without, etc), it shows you the unemployment rate for that group.

For Black women of all levels of education, the unemployment rate is at 11 percent. What bothers me is the gap between White and Black women’s unemployment–the same chart showed that the unemployment rate is just under 6%.

Does anyone see a problem here?

It really does seem as though perhaps Black women are being passed up for jobs that are otherwise going to white women or men. But more troublesome is that we are so stuck on how single Black women are that we don’t stop and reflect on how unemployed we are, which whether we know it or not DOES effect our dating and relationship life; if you’re not gainfully employed, your focus won’t be on finding a man; most times you’re busy hustling trying to find a job that will afford you the time and the money to actually go out and meet someone. And yes, I do think unemployment is why so many Black men are single as well (but no one wants to discuss those numbers either).

Granted, it’s not a sexy topic at all and it’s not one people are writing books about or putting on panels about how Black women can find job. But to me, this is a much bigger issue than whether or not I’ll find a Black man to marry or whether I’ll marry my current partner. To hear other people tell it, you’d think being single and a Black woman was a crisis, but what bothers me is that being single is being presented as a crisis while our unemployment rates are hardly even whispered about. The Economist of all things had a whole article about why Black women are sooo single and yet no article about the fact that some of us can’t find a job? #iCant.

Even though I’ve recently found a new job,  but I went several months without finding something after being laid off in January. But just because I was able to find a job in three months doesn’t mean that there isn’t a Black woman out there who is still looking and wondering how she’ll pay her rent. Let’s deal with that situation instead of berating her for being single (or just not married).

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On Badu and Our Bodies: Are We Comfortable In Our Own Skin?

Reposted from A Black Girl’s Guide to Weightloss, an awesome fitness blog that I frequent and you should too. Erika says everything I’ve been thinking when it comes to Erykah Badu’s video for “Window Seat.”

I had my moment of analyzing Erykah Badu’s latest video, and then – like most things pop culture – I was over it.

Until…

I just so happened to read Naked & Unashamed, and catch this quote at the end:

“People have to be comfortable in their own skin before they can be comfortable with someone else’s.”

Since this is a website about embracing oneself, being aware of one’s shortcomings and loving oneself enough to put in the effort to make ourselves better, I had to take a stab at it.

In all honesty, I’m beyond the video. I do enough analyzing all day… I’m not really moved by a music video, no matter how compelling it may be. I’m way more interested in the reactions to the video than I am the video itself.

Among one of my favorites, we have this:

“Typical…black women stripping nude in a video and debasing themselves. And you wonder why you are the least respected and sought after.”

Obviously, I don’t agree with that, but there’s a larger issue at play, here.

Sports Illustrated can have an entire magazine devoted to white women in swimsuits – suits, mind you, made of much less fabric than what Badu was wearing before the blurring began. SpikeTV can host some of the most misogynistic garbage I’ve ever seen (though, full disclosure, I do my fair share of laughing at it, too… What? They show CSI repeats.) Playboy has women showing their cookies, their cupcakes, their twinkies and their muffins. That’s just what they do. They model... They act – it’s a job… It’s Playboy – what do you expect?

A Black woman appears in a music video – saying nothing about whether or not she’s fully clothed – and she’s “just a video ho.” A Black woman poses in a bikini in a magazine, and it’s “She couldn’t wear more clothing than that?” A Black woman working on her flexibilitymust be doing it for sexual reasons. Don’t let her admit she takes a pole dancing fitness class.

Hell, Badu even tweeted the link to the video that inspired hers – a white male/female duo running Buck. E. Naked through Times Square, NYC. They’re just lovable, playful scamps running ’round an already sinful city, though. No big deal there. Erykah, however, is showcasing why no one loves Black women… by doing what the hell she wants to do in her music video.

There’s “debasing” going on, alright. It’s not self-imposed, though.

“People have to be comfortable in their own skin before they can be comfortable with someone else’s.”

Either we’re apologists for the sexuality of our non-Black counterparts, or we have set standards so high for Black women that exploring ourselves is no longer acceptable. We’re doomed to be one monolithic mass, regardless of our individuality… because someone we don’t know – someone who, essentially, doesn’t really give a damn about us – insists on trying to save us from ourselves. Since, y’know, we’re turning ourselves into whores. We’re always seeking to make a Black woman somebody’s Jezebel, in dire need of our “help.”

Not familiar with Jezebel?

The portrayal of Black women as lascivious by nature is an enduring stereotype. The descriptive words associated with this stereotype are singular in their focus: seductive, alluring, worldly, beguiling, tempting, and lewd.Historically, White women, as a category, were portrayed as models of self-respect, self-control, and modesty – even sexual purity, but Black women were often portrayed as innately promiscuous, even predatory. This depiction of Black women is signified by the name Jezebel.

There’s also this one, that I love:

Next, there is Jezebel, the bad-black-girl, who is depicted as alluring and seductive as she either indiscriminately mesmerizes men and lures them into her bed, or very deliberately lures into her snares those who have something of value to offer her.

I can’t help but wonder if our need to make a Black woman into a Jezebel comes from our failure to understand ourselves: what parts of us are sexual in nature, what is not; what should be seen as sexual, what should not; what should be considered hazardous, and what is harmless exploration – the kind from which lessons are learned.

Am I an advocate for sexual irresponsibility? No. Am I saying it’s ok to “be a slut?” If we share the same definition of “slut” (see: sexual irresponsibility), then I’ma go on and say “no.” Make no mistake, I don’t give passes for behavior that is not my own. However, I am a hippie at heart, and while I have my own standards for how I behave and interact with others in public, I can’t force those standards on others. I’ve never turned down the opportunity to offer up my opinion when asked for it, but making judgments and imposing those judgments on others as guidelines by which they must abide… are two different things entirely.

And while there are many who might not see – nor care about – what I’m saying here (and that’s okay), it’s worth pointing out – when we, as Black women, insist on reducing even the most innocent of our actions to Jezebelism, we perpetuate the notion that that’s all Black women are. That’s all you can expect of them. Being the Jezebel. Being the sirene.

Having said that, all I have from here are questions. Are so many of us so uncomfortable with the concept of sexuality – our own sexuality – that we can’t even identify when something is sexual or not? Has it stifled our intellectual understanding of sexuality? If we have “passes” to dole out, why are we not doling them out for ourselves? Do we often see inherently sexual messages in inherently non-sexual situations? Collectively, are we so repressed and limited in our self-comfort, that we can’t help but to project this repression onto others? Why care so much?

Must we make everything a Black woman does publicly be about her “whoring?” Or, are we really just projecting our own discomfort on other women who look like us? Like I said: from here, all I’ve got is questions. Well, questions… and this:

“People have to be comfortable in their own skin before they can be comfortable with someone else’s.”