How Ya’ll Like Us Now?

“Weave, weave, we don’t care. Give them horses back their hair!”

NaturalHairFrohawkIf you came of age in the 90s and the early millennium, you remember that chant. It was Black men’s favorite rebuttal to Black women who insisted on styling their hair with weaves, and a knee-jerk response against any female hostility they might incur for marrying out, particularly to white women. Black men thought they were pulling our cards by calling out the weaving. They said the artifice was one reason why they would not consider Black women for committed long-term relationships. Their other grievances included our supposedly disproportionate:

  • rates of obesity
  • crass and loud manners
  • hostile attitudes
  • slack moral standards, e.g., the tendency to be baby mamas from various men

Sooo, I couldn’t help wondering how they like us now, after so many of us have ditched weaves and joined the natural hair movement. Not only have we waved the white flag on that issue, but we’re hoisting the natural hair banner with pride. ‘Begone with fake hair, and embrace what God gave you!’ is our mantra. Are Black men changing their minds about us? Sorry to say, that’s not the case. In my very unscientific estimation, it seems like Black men have not had a change of heart at all, and they continue to date out without consideration for how we physically present our hair. I realize that I’ve listed four other strikes against us, but I also couldn’t help notice that the rates of Black children without a father in the home have skyrocketed among Blacks. So they are happy to knock us up, but still no ring, house, or coveted wife status. I guess Black men have trouble extrapolating how their individual dating choices might have broader implications and perpetuate attitudes of colorism, racism or self hatred among us.


NaturalHair2It’s hard to tell if Black men are cutting us more slack for making this major concession about our crowning glory. I just know that wearing our hair natural and ditching the European standard of outward presentation is not impeding us from attracting men outside our race. Truth be told, today I see more Black women with dreads, TWAs, twist-outs, Bantu knots and temporary press and curls — and these are dark-skinned sisters, OK — who are side by side with Asian and white men than I did in the 1990s. (Less so among Hispanic men, but I can only suppose that Hispanic men generally prefer to date among themselves.) A lot of them are wearing wedding bands and some are not. They’re in church. At Target. On the trains. For goodness sake, New York is starting to look like London as far as this goes.

Black women are making other changes that might also shift the dynamic of their dating practices and eventual partner choices. After they became more aware of the potentially damaging and harmful ingredients in their hair styling products, they carried that over to what they were putting in their bodies. I observe Black women in my everyday life being more committed to eating right — drifting into vegetarianism and veganism, exercising and bettering themselves in various ways. I think that is throwing us into the company of broader groups of people, honestly. Maybe women in my age group are leading the way on this out of some midlife course change, but I also see it among Gen Y and the Millennials. What I do not see are vast numbers of Blacks pairing off. I’m seeing a lot of gloating and backlash from the OK Cupid data that inferred that Black women are the thirstiest and the least desirable among other races of women in its pool of users based on historic response data. The best situation analysis I’ve seen comes from Cornelius Eady, writing for The Atlantic. First, he offered a rundown of OK Cupid’s findings.

Black women write back the most. Whether it’s due to talkativeness, loneliness, or a sense of plain decency, black women are by far the most likely to respond to a first contact attempt. In many cases, their response rate is one and a half times the average, and, overall, black women reply about a quarter more often that other women.
Men don’t write black women back. Or rather, they write them back far less often than they should. Black women reply the most, yet get by far the fewest replies. Essentially every race–including other blacks–singles them out for the cold shoulder.

Then he offered this breakdown:

People passing this data around need to be really careful about using this study to draw inferences about the dating world of black women. One significant problem is that, as any black person will tell you, when black folks date online they don’t go to OKcupid. They go to blacksingles. They go to soulsingles. Or if they’re truly high post, they go to EliteNoire. (Dig the sensuous piano riffs and candelabra.)
Black people who are going to a site like OKcupid are generally black people who, with some exceptions, are open to interracial dating. But the same isn’t true of white people on OKcupid.
So the game is rigged–on OKcupid you have many white men who have no interest in dating black women, but very few black men with no interest in dating white women.
That’s because all the black men who don’t want to date white women are on the African American Dating Network or Blacksinglesconnection. There simply is no real white corollary. Stormfront excluded, there aren’t many “WhiteSingles” websites or “EliteIvory” dating sites. There is no Caucasian Dating Network, because the broader world is the Caucasian Dating Network. OKCupid is the Caucasian Dating Network.

I set the OK Cupid study aside right away when it first came out, because it seemed unsupportable in some level. There is no level playing field in the dating world, and so for various reasons Black women always seemed to be at a disadvantage. But we are beginning to make strides, based on attitude changes. And mind you, the are not adjustments in our disposition. We’re still the same women that we were in the 1990s, but with different cosmetic needs and dietary preferences. And yet, aside from one or two videos in which a lot of Black men say they prefer to see a woman’s natural hair, I don’t see Black men meeting us where we are on on our journey.