Everywhere black women turn these days, someone is handing down a new diagnosis of what's wrong with us - why so many of us are "Successful and Still Unmarried," as an NPR headline put it. The statistics suggest many of us won't be able to find our own tall, dark, and handsome. The subtext is that this is the price we have to pay for our achievements.
Especially since the Obamas stepped on stage and reminded some people that black marriages exist, the media have become obsessed with dissecting the lives of single, professional black women. They are telling the nation that black women are in "crisis" - that we are single, lonely, and waiting.
According to the most recent census data, women accounted for roughly 62 percent of master's degrees awarded to 18- to 34-year-old African Americans. Such women are portrayed as a tragic bunch, all longing for a so-called good black man with an enviable professional resume (never mind his character or personality). Any of us should be grateful to have him, given the odds.
The situation is so bleak, it seems, that a CNN headline went so far as to ask, "Is marriage for white people?" Proposed solutions to our alleged problem include forgoing the notion of marrying a black man and dating white men. That's right: the great white hope.
What messages are being reinforced here? Don't aim too high. Take what you can get. Your worth rests on your ability to get a man. And to the men: If you have an education, congratulations, you're a commodity, because no one expected that much from you.
Juxtapose this with the usual depictions of successful, single white women: Confident. Independent. Desirable. Singlehood is not something white women are afflicted with in popular media. White women are living their lives; they are not waiting.
The reports of an alleged crisis affecting single black women are misguided, one-sided, and dangerous. They're crafted around antiquated notions of black women as disagreeable, emasculating, and unwanted, and of black men as perpetual failures. The media are maligning black women for their successes and stereotyping black men by over-anticipating their shortcomings.
Everyone wants to give his or her two cents, without one black woman's having asked for donations. Instead of asking, "Why are black women single?" we need to ask why we're even having this exchange. Do black women really need help? Or are we in danger of unapologetically having it all?