Steve Harvey and Me, Crisis Counselors.

If you missed – intentionally or not – ABC News’ Nightline special “Face-Off: Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?” consider yourself lucky.

Because I can’t get those 30 minutes of my life back.

The title of the program itself should have been a clue to stay away. If that wasn’t enough, the introduction from Terry Moran gave the show the feel of an Animal Planet documentary – like we were talking about a different species and not human beings who are experiencing frustration in their search for a suitable companion.

And I won’t even bother going through the trouble of laying out all the many reasons this was a programming fail, but Melissa Harris-Lacewell and Courtney Young sum it all up pretty nicely in their review in The Nation:

Despite its role as a news program, Nightline failed to call on any sociologists, psychologists, historians or therapists who could have contributed context, statistics or analysis about the “marriage crisis” among African Americans. Instead, these delicate and compelling issues were addressed by comedians, actors, bloggers and journalists. If Nightline deemed this story to be worthy of coverage then it had an obligation to cover the story with as much integrity as another social issue. It is hard to imagine Nightline assembling a panel of actors and comedians to discuss the economy, the war in Iraq, the Catholic Church or any other relevant issue.

This is nothing new.

It’s pretty much the same deal when media outlets go to Charles Barkley for his thoughts on politics and race. Or Chris Rock for his scathing racial and social commentary. Or Steve Harvey for his expertise on, well, let him tell you:

“I’m an expert on the mindset of the male species. I’m an expert hands down. I understand manhood inside and out.”

Of course.

And if Nightline wants us to believe this “crisis” demands the collective “expert” insight from Harvey, Hill Harper, Sherri Shepherd, Jimi Izrael and Jacque Reid, so be it. Just don’t ask them about dinosaurs or their relationship histories.

But if they can do it, so can I.

Let me officially submit myself as an expert on relationships, men and women and everything in between and on the outskirts.

My qualifications are that I have a college degree, several strands of gray hair, a wife (a black one!), a 13-pound dog, a Nissan Altima with 190,000 miles on the odometer and I get my haircut at a barbershop about every two weeks. So I’m up on all the latest news.

Send me questions, cut me a check and soak up the knowledge. This is not a game. I really want your questions.

Because Hill Harper can’t help everyone, you know?


Joel Anderson —blackink —  writes about sports, politics, crime, courts, and other issues far beyond his competence at BuzzFeed. He has worked at media outlets in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Atlanta and contributed to a number of publications, including The Root and The American Prospect, among many others.
  • shani-o

    Is “Why am I single?” a good enough question? Or does it need to be more specific?

  • blackink12

    Have you considered looking for dates at local penitentiaries or gay nightclubs? Because, from what I hear, those are good places to find a man.

    A black one, too!

  • I’ve always been told that “good women” catch a man by being able to throw down in the kitchen, while “bad women” catch a man by being able to throw down in the bedroom. What do men call a woman whose an expert in both arenas?
    P.S. (Is there another sure fire way to catch a man?)

    • blackink

      “What do men call a woman whose an expert in both arenas?”


      As for another way to catch a man, I’d probably have to say prayer.

  • KST

    @blackink12: On at least three different levels – Wow.

    @Kjen: “What do men call a woman whose an expert in both arenas?”

    Answer: KST

  • maria

    who’s, and yeah, you could do this.

  • DVE

    I am almost thirty and not married. How many cats should I hoard?

    • blackink

      No cats. If you ever truly want to understand men, you should get a dog.

  • KST

    Ok, after you answer DVE’s question, I’ve got a couple for you. Any suggestions for those allergic to cats and who refuse to take daily meds? Cats of the hairless variety or just scary and wrong, so…

    Also, I’m a vegan. This tends to freak men out a little.

    • blackink

      You should refer to the answer above.

      Also, stop with that vegan shit. Lips that touch broccoli, will never see no parts of me … or something like that.

      • KST

        I’m allergic to all furry things. And…

        ^Hey, I didn’t ask to see your naughty bits. What kind of advice columnist are you?

    • Reggie

      Yeah, I hate to admit it, but vegans are a bit of a turn off. Not enough to make the average guy lose interest, but definitely a negative. It’s kind of nice to be able to eat with your partner like a normal person and not a rabbit. :-)

  • Scipio Africanus

    Sherri Sheppard was the main drag on the whole thing. She came off like the official Loud But Wrong dudette on the panel, and was dragging the conversation away from anything even remotely elucidating, or at least interesting.

    Steve has been catching alot of heat from folks for his book, but as far as I can tell, he basically takes common sense stuff, repackages it as His Take On How Men Think, and gets paid. What’s really wrong with any of that?

    • keke

      He has been catching some heat lately but the book was huge and he sold a lot of copies. He became ABC News’ “relationship expert” with stints on Good Morning America and Nightline. I mean, they had these question and answer segments where women (of different races) asked him questions about men and relationship issues and he gave them is “expert” advice.

      My problem and a problem that many other women have is we are pretty sick and tired of people writing books telling us what WE need to change and how WE need to act in order to get a man as if that is the ultimate measure of a happy and fulfilling life. These books speak to women as if we are all a monolith and looking for the same thing. Some of us are happily single and some of us identify as bi-sexual or lesbian or don’t even WANT or desire to be with a man!

      And as for Steve Harvey, the man is on his 3rd marriage, and his 2nd wife is currently suing him. I’m not down with a man who has a horrible track record with women/relationships being promoted as an expert on how to get and keep a man. How long has he been married to this wife? Who’s to say that by this time next year, he won’t divorce her? Yet he is still grinning from ear to ear shilling that book and giving tired advice as if he has the secret formula to a successful relationship.

      Why is Steve Harvey giving advice to black women? Why don’t we have a vetting process for these individuals who want to speak on behalf of black people? These stories and news segments just perpetuate the current meme of the lonely and sorry lives of black women. I didn’t know we had it so bad until I heard about it in the news.

      At first it was a nuisance but now this story is just really frustrating and exhausting.

      • Scipio Africanus

        “This is how men think” /= “women, you should do x, y and z.”

        I’ve only flipped through the book a few times in the bookstore, but a number of women I know who read it all say it’s mostly just a mixture common sense, adages, and maybe a joke here and there.

        How does the fact that he’s been married more than once counter common sense ideas about *the ways that many men tend to think and act*? That’s like saying Charles Barkley has no business writing a book about how to play the Forward postion in basketball because he never won the NBA Championship. He knows as well as anyone how to play that position, but they key is, people who *don’t* play that position may want to know how it’s played.

        I just checked the chapter listing on Amazon, and it seems as though some of the second half of the book may contain some advice to women. However, my guess is that Steve is trying to alert the reader to the foulness that some men engage in, and what to avoid in men. We can critique him for *possible* laying the onus to make things right in any given relationship at the feet of women, not men, but that strikes me as a deeper sociological and philosophical exercise (I see you, Melissa Harris-Lacewell!) Alot of the women who may not be happy with their dating lives right now, and who are reading his book, probably want a fast, workable solution that they can enact on their own. Creating the New Man (I see you too, Che Guevara!) will take years, work, sweat, coercion, and united efforts of the D.R.O.P Squad.

        I have the distinct impression this blog doesn’t want another relationship-related brouhaha mega-post, so I won’t reply in this post anymore after this, I’ll just read.

    • Reggie

      Agree. Sherri was the worst part of this panel. IMO, she embodied the kind of women (black or not), who probably should be single. She showed her true character in the story with her and Hill Harper. She wouldn’t give him the time of day because he didn’t pull up in a nice car, yet she herself was taking the bus. Someone on the panel made a good point, many women (not just black) don’t want to date a man who is actually on their level.

      If you’re a waitress or work in some retail capacity, does it really make sense to be holding out for some uber successful professional?

      • Sherri was holding out for a dude with a car. She made no mention of what he had to do or what kind of car he had. She just wanted him to have a car. Hill Harper was *also* riding the bus. As someone who has been there and done that, it’s kind of hard to go places on dates when you have to depend on a commuting-centric transit system.

        I think Sherri was the only one making sense. At the very least she challenged the male panelists on their sexism and entitlement. She may have been loud and folksy, but IMO, she wasn’t wrong.

        That said: the whole thing was quite sad. For all of the hand-wringing involved around the topic, I would have liked “Nightline” to take a more scholarly approach.

    • Val

      I agree. When I heard Sherri Shepard, a woman who isn’t even sure the world is round, was gonna be on I knew it was all a joke. And Jaque Reid is a ‘usta be’ journalist. BET and Viacom have turned her into a second rate reality TV (non)star.

  • BugEye

    Why not include some married black women on the panel. Perhaps we can all learn from women who have actually figured it out.

  • Sarah

    I have a question – why is it that black women are the least likely to date interracially? This isn’t my personal experience, lots (if not most) of the successful black women I know are dating or married to white men, and have never been happier. I’m not saying black women need to be saved by the white man, but why not be really open to all men and just see what happens. I think the fact that so few black women are open to dating white men hurts those that are – since most white guys I know who are open to black women are intimidated since they assume the reverse isn’t true.

    I’m all for same race marriages, but isn’t that just putting black women at a disadvantage? I mean, you have more black women then black men, more educated black women then black men, more professional black women then black men, and yet less black women open to dating other races. Clearly there is going to be a numbers issue here that isn’t going to be in the favor of black women.

    There are some good white boys out there just waiting for a good woman. Might be a little extra work to help them understand things from a black perspective, but could be worth it if he’s the right guy.

    • i’m trying to narrow the universe of things about this comment that strike me as completely fucking ridiculous down to a half-dozen things.

      i’m failing.

  • I heard about this and I that God that I missed it. I know I would have just been sitting there shaking my head listening to people who problem need to review their own relationships tell me why I can’t get a man and what I nee to do to get one. Hmmm, I think we all know deep down what we need to do, it’s being open to make the changes to to open to the fact there is nothing wrong with us, at least most of us. When I read Steve Harveys book (thank goodness someone emailed it to me) I thought isn’t this all common sense and duh moments.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate

  • KST

    Dear Reggie: Vegans do not have to eat like a rabbits. : ) I can make a vegan version of most things that you eat. I love food and don’t feel deprived at all. I can eat out with friends and they don’t even know that I’m doing something different.

    @Sarah – I agree. There is nothing wrong with wanting a black man, but black women need to stop sitting on the sidelines. Everyone has their own baggage. Different races, different set of luggage. What I’ve found with dating the rainbow is that each partner has to have respect and knowledge of the other’s culture. The worst relationships I have had are with the men who say, “I don’t see color.” Whatever. The rest of the world does, so we need to figure out how to deal with that in a realistic way.

    • April

      There is nothing wrong with wanting a black man, but black women need to stop sitting on the sidelines.

      OK, but who says black women are “sitting on the sidelines”? I have no problem with interracial dating, but let’s not act as if it’s some magic bullet. And it’s interesting that Sarah equates interracial dating with dating white men, which is obviously restrictive and to be blunt, betrays a bit of a “white is right” mentality. It reminds me of a really trite article the Washington Post ran a few months ago about how black women should date “interracially,” i.e. white men instead of other “colored folk.” One of the women in the story actually said, “I figured since I was doing so badly with the chocolate, I’d give the vanilla a try.” Ugh.

  • So next week? More questions? Let’s get it, people.

  • KST

    @Sarah: I have never, nor will I ever espouse a “white is right” attitude. There are other races besides white men. My point was that black women should not sit on the sidelines hoping for a black man that may never come.

    “Who says that black women are sitting on the sidelines?” The US Census Bureau does. The majority of married black men are married to black women, yet there are a significant portion of unmarried black women. My entire life spent in the black community also indicates that black women are the least likely to date outside of our race. My degree in African-American history also affirms this.

    Black women need to stop sitting on the sidelines.

    • blackink

      Where, exactly, is the black community located? Is it down the street from Brownsville and around the corner from White Settlement?

      No. But seriously, who says black women are sitting on the sidelines? I mean, can the Census account for black woman in commitment relationships and not marriages? Black women who are in relationships with other women? Black women who don’t want to be in a relationship at all?

  • KST

    Sorry. My comment was in response to April, not Sarah.

  • KST

    blackink12. That second paragraph looks like a Jimi quote. Swear.

    According to my GPS, the black community in Columbus, OH would be located in the King Lincoln District/Near East Side. In Springfield, OH it would be located on the South Side. At Central State it would be located…on campus. At OSU – South campus.

    I see where you’re going with this, but let me clarify my original point. Most of the black women I know (yep, I know what that means percentage wise in relation to the entire population of black women in the US) would prefer to marry black men. They will not entertain the idea of going out with someone other than a black man. Half of the black women I work with are in their late twenties and beyond – all unmarried, but would like to be. So they wait, and get older.

    • blackink

      Can you be part of the black community if you live in, say, Westerville or Upper Arlington? Or if you live in the Houston area, is it possible to be part of the black community in Katy or The Woodlands?

      Like, I’m what most people would consider “black.” But I live in an area north of Tampa that’s decidely not part of the “black community.” Can I still get my pass?

      I think you know where I’m going with this, so I’ll refrain from carrying on with this point.

      But basically, some of the black women that you know (which you already acknowledge is a very tiny percentage in the larger scheme of things here) want to date black men, half of them are approaching 30 and they’re not in relationships with anyone.

      And because they’re holding out for someone they really want to share a meaningful connection with as opposed to someone they’re kinda interested in, they’re “sitting on the sidelines”? Even if they’re willing to wait.

      Is that about the size of it?

      And if that paragraph sounded like Jimi, great. I can only assume my invite to the next “crisis” conference is in the mail. As well as my eventual offer to host a show on NPR.

      • KST

        “And if that paragraph sounded like Jimi, great. I can only assume my invite to the next “crisis” conference is in the mail. As well as my eventual offer to host a show on NPR.”

        According to answer #

        Your invite should, indeed, be in the mail.

        For the record, I think you are both right, the numbers are misleading when you add in these variables.

        That noted – basically, a lot of black women are not interested in dating interracially. In order to get to the level in a relationship that is “meaningful” one must have some level of interest, no? People do not just fall in love. They make choices to pursue relationships with those they are interested in.

        I know how much you enjoy anecdotes:

        A friend of mine taught middle school in W. Kentucky and he told me worried about the young black women at his school. He explained that they simply were not sought after by their black male counterparts. He wondered what type of psychological effect this would have on them. So do I. There are far too many very real experiences that black women have from early adulthood into middle age like this to be easily and flippantly dismissed. Is the solution for black women to turn our backs on black men? No, but I would hope that in this mythical black community our daughters won’t be willing to waiting alone for too long.

  • KST

    ^You know what? I’m going to take back one portion of my previous comment upthread. That would be where I wrote “I agree” with Sarah. For some reason I failed to really read the entire comment and focused on the first sentence. THAT is what I was in agreement with. The rest? No.

    Amy and blackink12: I stand by my replies to you. Carry on.

    • April

      I should also clarify that most of my annoyance was with Sarah’s post, not yours, but I replied under your comment because of your assertion that black women “sit on the sidelines.” I still don’t think that is true (most of the black women I know are quite open to dating men of other races and ethnicities), so we’ll have to agree to disagree there.

  • B-Shell

    OMG I am a host on a radio show and we kept playing a clip over and over again.
    “I’m an expert”…. I’m like when did that happen? You are absolutely right since when does a news outlet gain information on a serious subject by asking entertainers and not professionals who study the subject for years. Furthermore, I think that the advice Steve Harvey gives is horrible, and misguiding and perpetuates low self esteem in black women… He tells women… Lower your standards.. I don’t care if you heard a sexual charged voicemail, he’s not cheating… Just baffoonery. I wouldn’t go to a mechanic to fx my gall bladder and I won’t listen to Steve Harvey about my love life….