Black Women NBC Series: Part 1

The first installment of NBC’s five-part series was almost as much about the underachievement of black men as it was about the success of black women (check their website for videos). It pointed out a few gender gaps such as 64% of black college students consisting of black women–no newsflash here. Haywood Strickland, president of Wiley College, went as far as to say that black women have grasped the concept that success requires steady hard work while black men have yet to embrace this idea. Instead, he says black men aim for quick and grand success where the odds of doing so are slim (e.g. pro sports, rapping)–an explanation heard many times before.

As for reasons typically offered for the gender disparities, the show noted schools that “give up on black boys” and a “bad boy” subculture (read hip-hop). Burt-Murray also reflected on the old adage, mothers raise their daughters and love their sons and suggested that this may be another reason–that maybe black girls are pushed more to excel while boys are “nurtured.”

The more interesting part of the show addressed the growing influence of black women in business and politics. For example, Angela Burt-Murray, editor of Essence, commented on a recent study showing that in the next election, 6 out of 10 black votes will be cast by black women. Regarding economics, the episode made mention of how black women control 62% of the $850 billion dollars of black spending power.

I must admit that at first I was a bit uncomfortable with all the talk of the plight of the black man in a series about black women. After re-examining it, I still take some issue with it, but also recognize that including discussion of black men places the black women in a larger context. And ultimately, it is hard to talk about black women without addressing how the condition of black men places certain challenges on them in terms of relationships and family. Black women care about and love black men. The show was not disparaging of black men, rather they spent too much time on the issue and hit a sore spot of the black community–once again.

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