[hohp-ol-uh-jee] – noun: the study of confidence, trust, and the audacity of hope.

In Response: What Single Women Can Learn From Michelle

with 3 comments

 By Jasmine Johnson

Written in response to Jenée Desmond-Harris’ article “What Single Women Can Learn From Michelle.” Read the whole story here.

If you’ve spent any time at all with children, you’ll notice the following:
  1. They’re unapologetic and unashamed. They’ll pass obnoxiously loud gas in quiet elevators, announce at a dinner party that your boss – who’s seated next to you – looks like a velociraptor, and wear the same shirt 47 days in a row because it makes them feel good.
  2. They ignore statistics. I’ve never seen anyone emerge from a belly-flop unharmed. If you grew up in a pool-populated neighborhood, then you witnessed more than one kid climbing out of the water with his abdomen and thighs stung from the ill-fated dive. And because statistics meant nothing to you, you mounted the diving board anyway to prove that it was possible to survive a belly-flop without injury.
Vintage Obama Love

Vintage Obama Love

As we exit childhood, we lose our brassy nature and become much more cautious. Our original optimism dissolves and gives way to adult logic. We learn to use historical events and laws of probability as basis for our expectations. By the time we graduate high school, we’re conditioned to operate within the limits of likelihood. We apply to colleges we’re likely to get accepted to, choose careers that are likely to offer a decent salary, and pick mates who are likely to provide us with the lifestyles we want. 

There’s nothing wrong with logic, but often we trade it for the ability to believe in things that can’t be seen.

The mind is powerful beyond measure. Once it sets itself on something, it will remain fiercely committed to that belief, be it right or wrong.  Those beliefs are formed from the exposure to, repetition of, and feelings associated with an idea.  Whether the idea is right or wrong is irrelevant; our behavior will always be consistent with the beliefs we hold to be true. 

If you believe you’ll fail, the odds will be in favor of your failure. Not because the universe is conspiring against you, but because your subconscious is aligning your behavior with your beliefs to make sure at all costs you are proven right. Don’t believe me? Think about every negative experience you’ve had and take note of how many times the event was followed by the phrase, “I knew this would happen.”  The outcome and your belief in the likelihood of the outcome aren’t a coincidence. This is the reason why women who believe all men cheat will be cheated on, why you fail tests you didn’t think you could pass, and why your fear of always being last picked for the team was realized every time you were picked last for the team. 

What does all of this have to do with being a single, Black woman? The answer is found an excerpt taken from Jenée Desmond-Harris’ article, “What Single Women Can Learn from Michelle:

The Journal of Higher Education published statistics last year showing that less than a third of black males who enroll in college graduate within six years, and that black women outnumber black men in higher-education settings by 2:1. Between 1970 and 2001, the marriage rate for black men and women fell by 34 percent, versus 17 percent for the rest of the nation. The most recent Census Bureau figures show only 70 single black men for every 100 single black women. And those 70 men are not necessarily available—the figure includes single men who are incarcerated. The same survey showed that 45 percent of black women have never been married, compared with 23 percent of white women.”

If you take these unfortunate statistics (exposure), the reality that many of us were raised by single, Black women (feelings), and the decades of advertisements seen/heard/read that used White models to define the nuclear family (repetition) then you have a belief system that says marriage isn’t likely for Black women. It shouldn’t be a surprise that in spite of desire and attention given to the issue, odds continue to stack against Black women who want to marry.

In Desmond-Harris’ article she suggests that Black women pass over the perfectly good man in hopes that the perfectly perfect man will come along right behind him. While I agree that this does happen, I think something else is going on. If we believe the odds aren’t in our favor, then perhaps the pickiness is a subconscious means of ensuring we’re proven right. We remain single because its the option we believe is most likely.

What Barack and Michelle have is exceptional because he’s a Politican, not because its unique to them. If you look around, you can find at least one couple in your sphere of influence who demonstrate the same outward affection, deep devotion and mutual respect we admire in the President and First Lady’s relationship. And Michelle wasn’t necessarily being indiscriminate – what she had was the right attitude at the precise moment it mattered.

Our outer preferences are reflections of what’s happening on the inside. If the belief conflicts with the desire, then expect frustration and delay. Worry less about adjusting your preferences and concentrate more on what is shaping your view on love and marriage in the first place. As your views shift your preferences will reflect the change.  

As adults, we have to work to cultivate what used to come naturally to us as children. Once upon a time, before disappointments and years of negative influence set in, we were able to keep our expectations separate from the experiences of others. It’s not too late to tap back into the resolute spirit we had in our youth, but it will require a little vigilance.

In the meantime, let the statistics impact the paychecks of the researchers who get paid to generate them. Not your beliefs.


Written by trueseven

June 10, 2009 at 11:15 am

3 Responses

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  1. great article. If we are to improve the odds of black successful women, marrying black successful men, then the currently black successful single mother will have to raise a black successful man.

    Mothers, if you care anything about your sons, and the future of our race, please stop holding the bar of expectations so low for your man-child that he just steps over it instead of having to reach for it!!! He is NOT your man. He is your son. Take responsibility for his upbringing.

    The sagging pants, ghetto language, gold teeth, neck chains of gold, low-budget attitude is not attractive. Stamp it out early in their development. Turn off the TV. Get out a book. Eat dinner together. Go to church. Dont curse. No name calling. Dont waste your money on cigarettes or alcohol. Pray for your children. Dont raise your voice.

    I recommend this article to all my friends and professional colleages.
    DeBrina D. Williams

    DeBrina D. Williams

    June 10, 2009 at 11:54 am

  2. This is excellent Hopeologist.

    I agree wholeheartedly with your assessments… I would like to point out that the ’45 percent of black women who have never been married statistic’ starts with women at the age of 15! (they very rarely tell you that).What woman in their right mind is going to marry at 15, 16, 17, or even 19?

    These statistics give us a reason to feel hopeless and unhinged… Its a good thing that my hope comes from a Higher Source and he defies statistics every time… His ways are past finding out… So I will continue to put my hope and trust in the One who cultivates my dreams…


    June 10, 2009 at 4:09 pm

  3. Hopeologist, I couldn’t agree with you more. If we focus on the negatives that’s what will perpetuate itself. Likewise, if we focus on the positives, or “hope” itself, then that’s what will present itself. Might I add, for the single woman looking for her husband, I was always taught to not only pray for a good husband, but pray that God would prepare me to be a good wife–and it worked. All praises be to the Heavenly Father!

    – The Pink Socialite

    The Pink Socialite

    June 10, 2009 at 9:56 pm

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