It’s a phenomenon that’s slowly becoming my own personal version of “Groundhog Day”
A major news source will publish a piece taking a “fresh and irreverent” look at black women’s dating woes. Occasionally this will be a news source that seemed to have no discernible interest in the lives of black women until they decided to place them under a microscope. (Seriously. At the rate we’re going, we’re maybe two months away from Hunting Illustrated running a cover feature titled “Not-So-Fresh Bait: Can a Successful Black Fisherwoman Find a Man?“)
I’ll first find out about it through Gmail, as I’ll get a notification from each of the dozen or so of my friends who’ve tagged me after posting a link to it on their Facebook pages.
Then, I’ll receive several dozen text messages, emails, phone calls, and tweets asking for “VSB’s official take” on the issue, as if they imagine Panama and I calling an emergency meeting as soon as the article hits the airwaves and staying up all night with our lawyers to craft a carefully-worded response.
“We have not yet seen the article in Hunting Illustrated nor have we spoken to any single black fisherwomen who can’t find men. Our expectation is that we’ll eventually handle this situation in a similar fashion to how things were handled the past few years. Having said that, we’ve been focused on other things in recent months, so we have to say that we may want to review some things and do things differently. But our present understanding is that there will probably be no change in the way this will be handled eventually”
Now, I’m sure my Groundhog Day-like experience isn’t unique. I’m certain many of you reading this go through a similar cycle whenever a new article about the decisions black women make about their vaginas goes viral.
But, it seems like a recent Wall Street Journal piece — one suggesting that more black female/white male marriages would actually raise the marriage rates for all black people — provided a change; a breaking point for many of us as the bulk of the discussion it created seemed to shift from the typical blame-gaming to a couple questions circling through our collective heads:
“Seriously, can this discussion get a f*cking break? Why the hell is the media so gotdamn worried about what’s going on in black women’s bedrooms?”
Depending on who you ask, the popular answer ranges somewhere between “White men are preternaturally obsessed with black booty. The recent release of “The Help” didn’t make it any better, as the thought of black mammies in tight white dresses stirred a primal lust that made the WSJ’s editors decide to go with that topic” and “It’s a conspiracy to destroy the black family and ultimately ensure that Sasha Obama never has a prom date”
But, while both of those theories have some merit, I believe the answer is much, much simpler: The media is obsessed with who, where, and what black women date because we’re obsessed with reading and talking about it.
That’s it. No conspiracy. No subterfuge. No byzantine plot to permanently sabotage black love. You aint going to get murked by any albino monks for finding out the “real” answer. The media gives a shit because we give (approximately) 100,000 of them, and us giving 100,000 shits means more links, more Facebook likes, more comments, more page views, and, most importantly, more ad money.
They’re not idiots. They’ve seen the oft-shared articles and features their colleagues have written about successful and single black women and how the church is holding black women back and how an urban black woman has a better chance of finding Lebron’s hairline than finding a man, and they want an invite to the orgy of easy page views too.
It’s the same reason why ESPN.com can’t go a week without having either Lebron or Brett Favre in a headline. It’s not, as many seem to think, about favoritism or agendas. It’s just that the editors know that any discussion about either of them will become the most viewed, shared, and commented on article for that day (and probably that week).¹
If anything, you could blame lazy writers and editors for rehashing the same topic, but that’s sort of like blaming a fisherman for going to the same part of the lake where he’s always been able to get lucky. He might be lazy, but you can’t blame him if the dumb-ass trouts never smarten up. Plus, as a person who has a bit of experience with the whole page views thing, sometimes deciding between “spending hours upon hours researching and writing something that might be read by 1,000 people” and “spending a hour writing something that’ll probably be read by 100,000 people” isn’t much of a decision at all.
So, you ask, how the hell do we solve this problem? How do we get the mainstream media off of our backs and out of our bedrooms?
Well, when Hunting Illustrated finally decides to publish “Not-So-Fresh Bait,” forget about how badly you want to read, rehash, resend, repost, and refute it, and ignore it. Ignore it completely and unconditionally. Ignore it like it’s Evelyn Lozada and your name is “Couth.” Ignore it how the planet Earth ignores The Game, how Rick Ross ignores ellipticals, how my bathroom mirror loves to ignore my “new” abs. Ignore it how whoever invited R. Kelly to Grand Marshall a back to school parade has obviously ignored any pretense they had about getting into Heaven.
I know this may seem excessive, but if we truly want these types of articles to stop, we need to start ignoring, omitting, overlooking, and neglecting them. If we don’t, well, the star-crossed plight of the black fisherwoman might be coming to your monitors very soon, and I don’t think I’m very excited to read about how her trout can’t keep her warm at night.
¹Ironically, a sizable percentage of the responses generated by these oversaturated topics comes in a “Who gives a damn?” format; a phenomenon where people somehow collectively forget that since they clicked on the article, registered for the site so they could leave comments, left a comment, left a captcha so that article would show up, and refreshed the page to confirm that their comment wasn’t moderated, they obviously give a damn too.