No Fairy Tales?

Fairy Tales



I can remember stories, those things my mother said. She told me fairy tales, before I went to bed. She spoke of a happy-ending, then tucked me in real tight, she turned my nightlight on and kissed my face goodnight. My mind would fill with visions of a perfect paradise. she told me everything, she said he’d be so nice. He’d ride up on his horse and take me away one night, I’d be so happy with him, we’d ride ‘til out of sight. She never said that we would curse, cry, and scream and lie. She never said that maybe someday he’d say goodbye. The story ends as stories do reality steps into view. No longer living lies in paradise. No fairy tales.

Anita Baker “Fairy Tales”

During a recent social occasion, a colleague quipped that I was fortunate to have a son, instead of a daughter. My peculiar facial expression gave him permission to continue his commentary. I would have never imagined that his daughters, whom he loved unconditionally, could ever be the catalyst behind any worry. It did not take him long to reach the focal point of his concern; he feared that none of his daughters would marry a black man. This concern did not flow from his daughters displaying an affinity or preference for non-Black men, rather, the lack of marriageable African-American men.

Unfortunately, the above issue is a familiar refrain expressed by African-American women during seminars, conferences, and  private discussions. I responded by telling my colleague that he was not alone in this concern. Meaning, that although I was not blessed with a biological daughter, I had a plethora of nieces, cousins, a sister, and a host of fictive kin daughters whom I adopted during my years as a professor, who had not wed. Their loyalty to the race made an inter-racial liaison an unconscionable betrayal to their race. Put simply, they loved the brothers and  chose the single life instead of what many still consider a social taboo.

Unfortunately, the decision to honor societal customs, has left droves of intelligent, articulate, beautiful, accomplished, professional, and ambitious African-American women hopelessly single. One of the more popular ‘solutions’ to this issue is for African-American women to marry outside of their race. Unfortunately, such a simplistic solution fails to not only address the root cause behind why so many African-American women never walk down the aisle, but also sidesteps a critical discussion that needs to occur within the Black community; that being, why is the pool of marriageable African-American males so small. For the sake of clarity I am going to explicitly relate what I mean by marriageable African-American males.

  1. A man who is gainfully employed
  2. A man who is socially adjusted and raised to view the institution of marriage as sacred and the destination for adult men.
  3. Hetero-sexual
  4. Desiring monogamy
  5. Absent any on-going, meaning active, addictions
  6. Clearly understands that the role of household is not a bully pulpit, yet positions one to take responsibility for familial missteps.
  7. Honest
  8. Faithful
  9. Has an active relationship with God
  10. Possessing a modicum of intelligence that extends beyond athletic contests
  11. Neither currently incarcerated nor under the supervision of a penal institution — probation or parole

After reflecting upon this crisis within my community, my mind reverted to Anita Baker’s Fairy Tales; a song that relates the hopes, dreams, and desires of untold numbers of African-American women who wait the arrival of their “tall, dark, and handsome” knight in shining armor.  As with most matters, the problem is obvious, it is the solution that causes angst and consternation. It is my desperate attempt to not be counted in the legion of thinkers who point out the problem, yet fail to offer a single solution, that I offer the following advice to young African-American males, steps that I hope could serve as a springboard toward saving my brethren and thereby rebuilding the African-American community, one family at a time.

  1. Avoid the criminal justice system by any means necessary.
  2. Engage the educational process as a location to develop your innate brilliance and scholastic interests.
  3. Avoid counter-productive cultural fads that have neither short-term nor long-term benefits.
  4. Always take the high road of respect and dignity in all of your interactions.
  5. Avoid having children out-of-wedlock.
  6. Make the pursuit of higher education or technical skill a prerequisite to marriage.
  7.  Use your power to chose your life path and never relinquish that power to any institution, circumstance, or individual.

It is my contention that such steps not only guarantee success, but also start the process of reversing the socioeconomic downward spiral that has afflicted our race. Such courageous activity will pave a glorious future that will include your one day mounting a horse, riding up to a home and sweeping some lucky young lady off of her feet. Believe me when I say to you, that it will be the beginning of a fairy tale life for both of you.


4 thoughts on “No Fairy Tales?”

  1. The premises argued in the article are hard to refute, they tackle the issue at hand eloquently to say the least. Scripture says train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. So I would have to say that the fractured family structure in the African American home contributes to this problem we see now manifested in many adult African American men. Moreover, there are two sides to every story and to not at least venture to explore that other side is unfortunate for marriage involves two individuals. In an article recently published by Black Enterprise African American women between the ages 30 and 45 as a collective whole, had an annual net worth of $5. Much is expected of African American men so in return, is the African American man’s counterpart living up to their standard despite them leading all racial groups with a college degree. I would dare to say we must look at the social injustice done to a race of men who are subject to underfunded schools, gun violence, and poverty. Alleviating these stresses from African American men I would think would foster a better self image and self worth that would trigger, that innate drive to live up to potential. To Kahlil’s point of ” I believe one would receive the same rehearsed answers of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr” I would have to disagree with that because men like Martin Luther King Jr., knew that the power of the pen is mightier than the sword, that men of that caliber hold a place in history that is irrefutable, and their contributions will live on for generations. Yes, black history is more than Martin Luther King Jr, but he is the epicenter, the rock on which the hope of race rested upon for a period of time in history, and we must not forget that. Nevertheless, together as a race of people we will cure ourselves of all these ills, one day.

    1. Wells,

      Let me first state that I supremely appreciate your comments in regards to this blog; as you can see it is a new venture for me. I am just as appreciative of the positive tone that your response ended with; as Kathleen Cleaver repeatedly admonishes, “We always have the future.”

      However, I must say that I take serious issue with the assigning of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with the status of being the epicenter of the movement. King was important, however, there are many other figures (Ella Baker, E.D. Nixon, Asa Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin) who were instrumental in regards to just MLK’s work; not to mention the droves of others who worked in other aspects of the movement. It is this fixation, or propping up of King that leads to a miseducation regarding the movement; leading others to passively await the arrival of our next Martin Luther King or Malcolm X. The truth is that we must grow our own leaders and support them well before they become celebrity status.

  2. I agree with most of your article. Many African American women have come to this problem in one form or another. However African American women lead all racial groups in the # of college degrees awarded. There are plenty of capable educated woman but a good proportion of the African American male race is either incarcerated or have a criminal record. I cannot give specific statistics but the percentage of African American males arrest compared to the rest of society is something to be considered in evaluating the situation. Secondly the descriptions that these women require for marriage would be difficult for any man to fulfill regardless of race. My biggest concern about the article is not acknowledging the effect of the media influences on the black race specifically the black male. Our role models are no longer scholars or proactive leaders but athletes, rap artist, and those with little to no education credentials. The media portrays violent, drug induced, and disrespectful role models for Black Americans to look up to. Perfect example of this effect on the African American male is asking any black male under the age of twenty five who are their role models that do not include athletes or artist. I believe one would receive the same rehearsed answers of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. I agree with some of the steps suggested to change to the society. However the biggest change would be the African American male sincere desire to WANT to learn. The resources and technology we have today makes it easy for self education. Through this black males would learn the great history of the black race. This history would never be found in the textbooks taught in public schools which tend to make heroes out of our American leaders but minimize their faults(Such as omitting the fact that President Lincoln was more concerned about preserving the union rather that abolishing slavery). May even learn the contributions that black race made to the development of the world BEFORE the institution of slavery. Once African American males learn more about their rich past they would come to gain more self respect and pride. It may inspire many to see themselves as equal to all races and not fall into the typical stereotypes that were mentioned in the article and presently in the media. I believe there is a problem with the African American male but to adequately address the problem it is imperative to understand why we as African American males act the way we do. Once this is done then I believe the black male can the happy ending dream that African American woman intensively crave for and not the present nightmare these women have come to know.

    1. Kahlil,

      Thank you for your response to this blog; I sincerely hope that you will be a regular contributor here.

      I agree with much of your post and applaud your keen insight on these racial matters. I think that the largest elephant in the room is finding a way to directly address the priorities and values of young African-American people, males in particular. It is encouraging to realize that humans are social beings, so everything that we know has been learned, and can therefore be deprogrammed, now how do we accomplish such when this wild mustang of immorality, faulty values, and absence of logic has become endemic within our midst.


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