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.
- A man who is gainfully employed
- A man who is socially adjusted and raised to view the institution of marriage as sacred and the destination for adult men.
- Desiring monogamy
- Absent any on-going, meaning active, addictions
- Clearly understands that the role of household is not a bully pulpit, yet positions one to take responsibility for familial missteps.
- Has an active relationship with God
- Possessing a modicum of intelligence that extends beyond athletic contests
- 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.
- Avoid the criminal justice system by any means necessary.
- Engage the educational process as a location to develop your innate brilliance and scholastic interests.
- Avoid counter-productive cultural fads that have neither short-term nor long-term benefits.
- Always take the high road of respect and dignity in all of your interactions.
- Avoid having children out-of-wedlock.
- Make the pursuit of higher education or technical skill a prerequisite to marriage.
- 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.