Accessories for Billionaires: The Latest Foolishness on Love and Black Women

Star Wars creator George Lucas and his wife, businesswoman Mellody Hobson

Star Wars creator George Lucas and his wife, businesswoman Mellody Hobson

Unmarried Black women don’t need to prove their worth and desirability.

I wish it went without saying that female singleness is not necessarily evidence of some fatal personal flaw. But the why-the-hell-won’t-anyone-marry-the-Black-women industrial complex is relentless. And if the number of otherwise smart folks circulating an article called “Billionaire says black women are for grown ups” all up in my social media timelines last week are any indication, the unusual focus on Black women and marriage–built on sexism, racism, and the idea of black female inferiority–is making a whole lot of us happy for crumbs.

The article, from a website named Baller Alert, is one of several reports in online media outlets targeting Black readers, particularly Black women in interracial relationships, that quote businessman and investor Ben Horowitz, who is married to a Black woman, as saying, “Billionaires prefer Black women. They are loyal and guard your interests. Black wives are for grown ups.” Horowitz has since disavowed the statement, allegedly given during an interview with Kola Boof for Beyond Black and White.

The Baller Alert article, like several others, goes on to list famous pairings of wealthy White men and Black women, including George Lucas and Mellody Hobson, David Bowie and Iman, Wissan Al Mana and Janet Jackson, and others.

More and more everyday billionaires are dating black women. While thousandaires and athletes have chosen to date “others” it seems that more and more wealth men (notice I didn’t say rich) are dating women of color. Billionaire Ben Horowitz was said to have been quoted as saying  “Billionaires prefer black women, they are loyal and guard your interests. Black wives are for grown ups” which led me to research billionaire men dating black women. So don’t worry women. Your skin may not be light enough to snag a rapper, but you can still snag a billionaire business man. Just remember that to attract a billionaire you have to be Educated, have you own career/interests and have ambition. No dumb door knobs over here ladies!

Here are my concerns about this article and the general rejoicing that has accompanied Horowitz’s alleged proclamation:

Stereotypes, even positive ones, are still problematic.

“Black women are loyal.” Some of us are; some of us are not. Some black women make wonderful wives and partners; some are the stuff of nightmares. I know this because Black women are human beings, and human beings are complicated. We can no more be summed up by a word like “loyal” than we can by “sassy” and “strong.” Race and gender bias that decides all Latinas are “hot” and Asian women “demure” (positive attributes in the patriarchal gaze) is still race and gender bias. This is no different.

Black men who date interracially are not dooming Black women to spinsterhood.

The Baller Art article says, “While thousandaires and athletes have chosen to date ‘others’ it seems that more and more wealthy men (notice I didn’t say rich) are dating women of color.” Individual Black men and women, like all people, should be free to create unions with partners that best complement them, regardless of color. Of course, African Americans are not immune to the centuries of anti-Black bias in our society, and some men (and women) who date outside of their race do so for all the wrong reasons. So what? The fate of Black women does not rest on the romantic choices of individual Black men. And even if we assume that it does, the vast majority of partnered Black men (like men everywhere) are with women of their own race.

Non-Black men are not consolation prizes.

Shorter Baller Alert article: Rich black men probably hate you, but here’s the Prince of Liechtenstein (and he’s wealthy and WHITE, y’all!). Love knows no racial boundaries. Being open to dating people of different races increases one’s chances of finding the right committed partner. But no one wants to be a consolation prize, including a non-Black guy you’re willing to date since Kanye and ‘nem aren’t checking for you. Which brings me to this question: Since when are athletes and rappers the Holy Grail of Black manhood? I know a lot of good Black men–married and otherwise–none of them can spit hot rhymes or dunk a ball. Go figure.

The implication that Black women should date interracially as some sort of payback to ain’t shit, White woman-chasing Black men, is offensive both to Black men (way to play into racist stereotypes!) and non-Black partners of Black women. I assume that Janet Jackson married Al Mana because she loves him deeply, not because Jermaine Dupri wouldn’t marry her.

Aside: The only good thing about the Baller Alert article? I learned that there is a Princess Angela Brown of Liechtenstein. This tickles me.

Any port in a storm…amirite, ladies?

Among the couples highlighted in the Baller Alert article are Naomi Campbell and former fiancee, Vladimir Doronin. Nevermind that Doronin was still married when he began dating the supermodel or that, since their split, tabloids have been rife with drama, including reports Campbell has been “bullying” the billionaire’s new model flame. My point is that we know nothing about the men on this list save that they are White and wealthy, which tells us exactly nothing about their value as men or partners. And I know, as a Black woman, I am loathe to see Naomi “I just impaled my assistant on an iPhone” Campbell held up as an exemplary Black wife.

Preferencing the bank accounts of men like Doronin (And I get it: The site is called Baller Alert: For Women Who Want The Ballerific Life, so…yeah…), rather than values or other more important qualities, plays into one of the most distressing key messages of the “Black marriage crisis”: That any partner is better than no partner at all. It is better for Black women to contort themselves into a retro version of perfect submissive wife or, in this case, to be affianced to a married, Russian playboy, than to be alone and presumably unchosen by a man.

The messaging that Black women are deficient as women and as heterosexual* partners is everywhere–repeated on morning urban radio shows, embedded in Black film and preached from the pulpit. ABC News gathered a panel a few years back to discuss why educated and professional Black women aren’t getting hitched, for goodness’ sake. The story line of too educated…too dumb…too ugly…too fat…too nappy…too fertile…too bossy…too picky…too easy…too…just too, too much is oppressive as hell. Perhaps most for unmarried Black women of a certain age whose very existence is seen as proving the rule. But, in the face of that onslaught, we shouldn’t catch the Holy Ghost over every reductive “compliment” directed our way. In an eternally racist and sexist society, “positive” press about Black women deserves as much scrutiny as negative.

*This narrative is disturbingly heteronormative.


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One thought on “Accessories for Billionaires: The Latest Foolishness on Love and Black Women

  1. LifeBliss Lisa September 19, 2013 at 5:53 pm Reply

    I got this article and read it too. Before I read it I was feeling all, yay! Take that, you broke black women haters! But then as I read on I began feeling some kind of way, as in this doesn’t really seem complimentary to me. For one, so many of the women mentioned are celebrities. Nothing against them but who cares? And what was the overall message from the author? Hold your head up single black ladies, and hope and pray that you’re that one in a million lucky winners of a white guy with some bank? I ultimately decided that I couldn’t possibly share something from a site called called “Baller Alert” anyway. Your post touched on several of my reservations about the article that for I, whatever reason just couldn’t pull together in an articulate manner, (and was too lazy to) so thanks for this.

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