Is there a crisis in black relationships? Despite millions of examples of loving couples, black women and men still have negative perceptions of each other. As a successful black woman in her 30s, marriage is on my mind. So I set out to find out where these perceptions came from—and if they are true.
Donna L. Franklin's 2001 book, What's Love Got to Do with It?, shows that 7 out of 10 black mothers give negative messages to their daughters about black men. Did my mom give me negative messages about black men? No, she didn't have to. I got them from watching my parents' relationship.
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My father was a "player" proving his manhood through multiple families and women as so many West Indian men of a his generation did. My father's philandering definitely had an impact on how I viewed men in general and black men in particular: They were duplicitous, cheaters, liars who used black women, really all women for their own needs and egos. I would see this again when my brother cheated repeatedly on his wife and then left her for—you guessed it—a white woman. This is probably why I'm still unmarried, that and because I can't seem to find any black men to date in my social circle.
As a successful black woman in corporate America I had a very hard time finding black men who understood and weren't intimidated by my busy lifestyle, weren't already dating or married to white women and who weren't gay. When I left the corporate world, and moved to black-man-friendly Brooklyn, I had a much easier time finding black men, unfortunately far too many of them were players. I'll admit though, I'd often choose a "bad boy" over a good prospective partner and have a bad experience, which then created a bad perception. That said, it seemed the odds were often stacked against me: 9 out of 10 times, the good-looking, smart, articulate, cultured black men I met were in multiple relationships, or either had a girlfriend or were married and "forgot" to tell me. In fact, had it not been for the tattoo of his wife's name on his arm, I might not have known that the last man I was out on a date with was married.