By Patia Braithwaite
One of my male best friends is quite the catch. He’s a handsome, educated, motivational speaker, and an Amazon bestselling author. He’s got the face, the body, and he’s just incredibly dope. Every girl needs a guy like him on her team. Recently, while drinking fresh-squeezed lemonade on 53rd street and Lexington Avenue, we had an interesting conversation about relationships.
“This summer has been good to me,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s the fact that there are no good black men or what, but I’m really pulling quality women. It’s crazy.”
I scrunched up my face and sipped my lemonade, “What do you mean? Why is it crazy?”
“I mean, I get that I fit a mold, I’m young, educated, I have a job that sounds good on paper. So I think women are just really on it lately…”
Something about his statement bothered me. I looked him in the eye and searched for some clarity.
“Could it be that you have a lot to offer?” I said. “And maybe these women are actually seeing you for who you are?”
He shrugged, “We all know there aren’t good black men out there.”
There it was: We all know there aren’t any good black men out there.
I’m used to the stereotypical image of beautiful black women sitting around and lamenting about how there are “no good black men,” but, in all that bullshit debate, there’s not much discussion of how the myth affects some successful black men.
The conversation with my friend hit me like a ton of bricks: the black male scarcity myth messes with men too.
1. Successful black men have their guard up: If you assume that I’m only interested because you “fit the mold” or “look good on paper,” than there’s no way you can take me seriously. You are looking for me to show my hand, confirm your suspicion that I’m just hollering because of your salary or your job title. You can’t connect with someone you are building a case against.
2. Successful black men underestimate the intangibles: In another life, I am a poet. Chances are, if I’m into you, it’s because you are weird. You watch Basketball Wives with me on the low, you sing Coldplay songs to me, or maybe you were fat in the twelfth grade. Yes, the dude at happy hour that dons the scrubs or the suit is sexy, but the guy inside the suit – the one who secretly wears the same socks twice in a row is the person I’m in love with. The tangibles — titles and comas and tax brackets — aren’t everything. The man at the core, imperfect and a little strange, is everything. Don’t underestimate the intangibles – everything else can be blown away with a strong enough wind.
3. Successful black men have less patience for me women bullshit: Can I blame you? If you are moving through the world with the idea that the ratio is in your favor, why would you tolerate anything other than perfection? Here’s the thing though: no one is perfect. Successful black men can be uncompromising, but they should be crystal clear about what it is they want.
4. They don’t feel overwhelming pressure to settle down: See number 3. If the ratio is in your favor then there is never any rush, right? Also check out Dr. J’s post: Why are so Many Black Men Single
5. Successful black men confuse mediocrity with greatness: A friend of mine told me that when he’s with his black friends from home, he feels like he’s doing big things. But with his college friends (read: White and Asian friends), he’s come to realize he’s doing what’s expected of him: being a grown up. Successful black men can fall into the “but I’m a black lawyer/doctor/finance guy” trap. They can get so consumed by their own achievements that they forget there are new (and perhaps more rewarding) heights to reach.
6. Successful black men sell themselves short: My brothers, if you meet a woman you deem “quality,” and your first thought is that she is only into you because of your job…you are selling yourself short. The key here is that quality begets quality. If someone you think is dope sees something in you, always assume it’s your dopeness. Assume she’s seeing the quality in you beyond your 401K. If you assume she’s only seeing your job or your education, that means, on some level, you are only seeing your job…and trust me, no matter what you do, you’re selling yourself short.
So those are my thoughts! I’m clearly not a successful black man, so fellas, I’m interested to hear your thoughts and observations. Ladies, what have you noticed? How has the scarcity myth impacted the men in your lives?
Patia Braithwaite is a Brooklyn-based relationship writer. Her work has been featured in The Coral Gables Gazette, Florida Inside Out Magazine, Yahoo Shine, and BounceBack.com. She’s currently working on a non-fiction book that explores the various ways men see God and how these views impact their romantic relationships. Check out her musings and more at: www.menmyselfandgod.com