Raised to be Single

24 Jul

Are black girls raised to be single?

I was watching last week’s episode of Toya, and there was a scene when Memphitz, Toya’s husband-to-be, and T-Pain were sitting around talking about marriage. T-Pain has apparently been happily married since he was 18 year old (2003)…who knew?! Anyhoo, T-Pain was cautioning Memphitz that marrying a black girl would mean less forgiveness and less leeway to eff up in the relationship (actually, he said one chance). Without hesitation, Memphitz made a comment that black girls were raised to be single and they both agreed on that point. Here are two young (late 20s) black men having a candid conversation…and, even as one of them embarks upon what he intends to be a lifelong relationship with a black woman, this is what they believe to be true. So, this is my question: are little black girls really raised to be single? Are we instilled with characteristics and survival mechanisms under the assumption that we will live life alone? I do not purport to have the answer to this question, but I do find it an interesting one to ponder.

As I look around me and notice that the ratio of married to unmarried black girls in my circle is about 50%, I know that some black women are successful in attaining un-single status. Yet, when I think about the environments in which lots of (if not most) black girls are raised, I can’t help but believe that this question holds some merit. Regardless of the usual factors thrown out as explanations (i.e., how many parents are in the home, the presence of a stable male figure in the home, socioeconomic status, family values, etc.), I think a majority of black children are exposed to a range of people/families that span the spectrum on all of those factors. Whether it’s our neighbors, our cousins, or classmates, our barbers/beauticians, or whomever, we get a chance to observe and learn about life  on each end of those spectrums. We see one-parent, two-parent, and no-parent households. We see the relationships that people have with their “real daddy”, step daddy, God daddy, mama’s boyfriend, and/or no one. We know the difference between people who live on section 8, those who live hood rich, those who make due, and those who are truly living large. My point: black kids are exposed to a lot. While I believe exposure is a good thing, I also believe there’s such a thing as too much exposure.

Maybe little black girls who are exposed to all the possibilities of how life’s path can lead to something other than marital bliss develop some combination of cautionary characteristics–independence, distrust, loquaciousness, loyalty, bitterness, promiscuity, etc.–that lead to singledom. Or maybe, just maybe, we develop characteristics so noble that only a select few men are able and willing to take the necessary steps to love us. I really don’t know. What do you think?


Posted by on July 24, 2011 in Dating, Future Planning, Marriage, Reflection


Tags: , , , ,

2 responses to “Raised to be Single

  1. nolagirl

    August 16, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Recently I was speaking with a friend who said ‘ we raise our daughter, we love our sons.” Meaning in her family she and her sisters were reared in the same home, but differently from her brother, she and he sister always knew they would have masters and PhDs because it was what they grew up knowing they needed in the world to be successful, but her brother it seemed was fine just finishing high school, as was the family. I personally think I was raised by a mother and grandmothers who married either while in college or immediately after and who wanted me and my sisters and cousins to have other options to do things besides being teenage brides andhave children at 20, not that they didn’t LOVE their children or enjoy their life but they wanted the women they reared to be able to do something else. And in the option to do something else I was reared being taught I did not need to get married so soon and my college years should not be spent trying to find a husband but instead finding myself. I think it being reared to be independent we don’t need a man so survive in the ways that women did previously and this has given us the option to be selective with whom we share our lives. Or maybe the media is right- I just don’t think so.

    • That Girl

      September 3, 2011 at 12:46 am

      Good point! I think being reared to be independent (which is a little bit feminist and a little bit extra black American, right?) can come manifest in a way that either (a) makes people think many black women are meant to be single forever and ever, or (b) makes many black women unapproachable in a romantic manner. When you throw education into the mix, it gets even messier, as there is reserch to show that attaining higher levels of education is negatively related to a black woman’s likelihood to achieve marital bliss. Anyhoo, I digress. Thanks for humoring me 🙂


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