The New Black…

… Tina Fey said she’s a bitch, wore the notion with pride and everyone chuckled. Then we move on to Tracy Morgan reminding Fey that black was “the new President.” Everyone laughed again.

I thought that was it, all that line would be worth.

Then I came across a Washington Post profile of 29-year-old D.C. journalist Helena Andrews. She’s single, black and “desperately in search of love.” And she decided to use “Bitch is The New Black” as the title of her forthcoming book (it releases in June 2010). It is to be a satirical look at her own struggles balancing professional success and relationship futility … and women like her in D.C.

She seems like a very self-aware Pedestal Patty. But if you read the small excerpt in the article, she also seems like a talented writer. The book has been billed as a black “Sex & The City” with a “Bridget Jones’ Diary” spin of sorts. The producer of Grey’s Anatomy has signed on to produce a film version of the book, which says something about Andrews’ ability and her story.

It could be a good/interesting read, far removed from an EJD or Zane-type take. But I’m stuck on the title.

If you read the profile, and you should, “Bitch is The New Black” is a fitting way to describe Andrews. She seems to embrace it well. But as a book title it reads like the name Shaquanda Apple Jenkins on a resume sitting in the Microsoft human resources department. It reminds me of a title Tiger Woods needs to purchase for 15 of his friends: “A Ho Needs To Stay In A Ho’s Place.” (Google it. It’s not a joke.)

That was the only real problem that I had with the profile. As I read it, I kept thinking to myself “I know girls just like this. This could be good.” In fact, I know girls who have locked D.C. in as a place to go and “find good black men.” It makes the idea of reading this book that much more comical.

But the profile and Andrews have caught a lot of heat in this blog’s comments. From some of the guys who read the article, you get the idea that Helena might as well go ahead and book reservations for the next five annual singles ski trips.

The lukewarm response comes from the attitude that Andrews gives off in the story and accompanying video (It’s worth watching. Helena has a constant, circular neck roll that reminds me of a fifth grader doing that familiar gym class exercise). Andrews’ personal definition of a winterboo juxtaposed against her inability to find a man she can call her own is astounding. Some said they’d never even friend a woman like her, let alone date.

Others were just pissed at the idea of another “black bitch” tale receiving so much run. But I think it has the chance to be more than that because it’s a good black writer getting the chance to tell a story about someone we all know — someone who has this bitchy, strong exterior, but she’s also full of uncertainty. Sure, people think it’s a story that has been told. But I’m not sure it’s been told that well. If done right, it has potential.

“What I am trying to say about single black women in any urban environment is, you don’t know them as well as you think you do. They may not know themselves as well as they think they do,” Andrews told the Post.

Moreover, it is rare these days that a promising black project that could be well-written gets the green light. That, I believe, should be commended. I can understand complaining about bad black cliches constantly played out in films written by non-blacks.

But when a good black writer gets an opportunity to explore some of her own truths that others experience, I think we should read, watch and listen.



35 responses to “The New Black…

  1. I think that the book looks interesting and I will probably read it or at least check out the movie based on the book. I’m not really into the whole Sex and the City type books but I will watch those types of movies.

    I can understand how some people would be offended/upset by her portrayal of black women but I also think those people must feel like it is a representation of them otherwise why would it disturb them so much? I know women like Helena but I’m not one of those women. I can read her book and not see it as a story about myself.

    I think we should be supportive because like it or not she is telling the story that is true for some. She even makes it clear that this is about SOME black women, not all. I didn’t watch the video but from the article I don’t feel that what she’s writing is negative, it is just a description of the reality for her and other women she knows.

    Oh and I like the title, it’s catchy.

    • Yeah, I don’t think it’s a negative read. She says that it’s satirical, but it’s also obviously introspective… which is why I’m curious. I’m curious to see how “bitch being the new black plays out and whether or not she learns that humility is the old bitch.

      Should be interesting… Still don’t like that title, though. lol.

  2. But when a good black writer gets an opportunity to explore some of her own truths that others experience, I think we should read, watch and listen.

    This is why I like you, Damon. You make sense.

    You hit on some of the same issues I take with people who haven’t seen Precious but want to dog it.

    Bottom line is, this is somebody’s story. It’s a story worth telling and from the article looks, as you say, like it’s well-written. Can we, that is us black folks, give people a chance sometimes? There are women who see themselves in Helena Andrews, who will see themselves in the characters in the film and who will appreciate that.

    I don’t know what story black folks are waiting on that will quiet the critics, that will take away their issues. I don’t think such a film/book/story will ever exist; folks just wanna be mad and that gets under my skin like nothing else.

    I think Andrews’ story will produce (more) conversation on this topic and maybe said convo will get a little smarter and include the idea that there is no silver bullet and we all need to quit looking for it.

    As a slight aside, I didn’t move to DC looking for my husband, but I caution anyone who does. I wasn’t even looking like that, but I can tell you — young (early to mid-20s) black professionals will not find their husband here. Late 20s have a better shot, and early to-mid 30s, even better. I don’t know how to describe this city, except to say it’s NYC’s little brother who nobody told just isn’t as cool, no matter how hard he tries.

    • “folks just wanna be mad and that gets under my skin like nothing else.”

      More and more, this is what it seems like. People — white, black, Hispanic and all — just want to be upset at everything and don’t like anything whatsoever.

      I think it has the potential to be something good about someone we all know… and like you said, the discussion could be good.

  3. This topic always intrigues me, especially being a buppie myself in today’s society. I think that this book will definitely be interesting and likely put an original spin on topics that have already been covered.

    But, I think the solution to many buppie’s problems is simple: Get Over Yourself. Sure, it is easy to get caught up in how hard you have worked to get where you are, it is also easy to desire someone of equal caliber to compliment you in a relationship. But, I think sometimes buppie’s are so stuck on themselves that they fail to give more of themselves into building a full and lasting relationship with someone else. It becomes a battle of ‘look at me’ sometimes and that gets in the way of each person finding enough humility to be a meaningful partner in a relationship.

  4. I’m a young black man the same age as the author and whenever there’s a group setting or I find myself in a group of mostly black females, the question ALWAYS comes up. ‘Why can’t I find a good black man?’ They say they want the truth but(in my best Jack Nicholson) YOU CANT HANDLE THE TRUTH!

    Here’s some tips in no particular order.
    –Learn to cook. like for real cook, no man wants to come home to Frozen Dinners and Takeout every damn night.
    –Get OVER yourself. Okay, okay you got a Masters from Haaavard…I get it. You’ve got a great job making a lot of money. You can take care of yourself I get it…Youve told me all of that before you even told me your name.
    –You tell me you wont date Jimmy the Barber bc he doesnt have a degree, you want somebody who is ‘on your level’. GTFOHWTBS. What you dont know is that Jimmy the Barber is my boy, matter of fact my cousin and if you say you wont date him then you just told me you are not the type of broad I want.
    –Stop hiding the fact that you are a freak. Yeah I said it. You got down in college, and after, and probably now but you think your new Coach bag and Benz will mask the fact that you are a freak. Guys ALWAYS know.
    –Develop social skills that DONT involve shopping or watching The real housewives of ATL. Can you play Spades? Do you twostep? Can I take you around my NOT so Buppie family and will you stick out like a sore thumb?
    –learn to cook.

    sorry bout the rant D. Scott but this is a topic that fires me up.

    • @Dash

      You just pretty much said the same thing I did. But I think your point can be made both ways. There are areas that men can step their game up too when it comes to getting over themselves. PERIOD.

      BTW, I’m a black female professional who is happily engaged to a barber! 🙂

    • @ Dash: I agree. Whenever I have friends who are like “there are no good black men…blah blah blah,” I immediately stop them and name about 5 single guys off the top of my head, some who I know from college or church, met but wasn’t interested in, etc. Nice, very decent guys. When guys I know do the same, I have the same responses regarding girls I know.

      What I’ve been trying to figure out is what is preventing these two groups of decent girls and guys from getting to each other. Too much riff-raff in the middle? Game playing? Personality issues? Personal insecurities?

    • @Dash:

      You’re real serious about that cooking thing, LOL!

      But seriously, I think it is sad how many young women don’t know how to cook these days. My mom is anything but submissive however she made sure to teach me how to cook because that is something a wife should be able to do for a husband. Not to mention that a grown-up should know how to cook, period.

    • “Learn to cook.”

      @Dash: No particular order. lol. Right….

      No, pretty much everything you listed makes sense on some level.

  5. Like JLBD, being a successful buppie, I’m kind of interested in the topic. I’m hoping it will take a much more meaningful look at why successful black women struggle finding suitable relationships than the typical Gabrielle Union/Vivica Fox movies. For the couple of close friends I have, it really bothers them, to the point of depression. The article very briefly touched on the suicide of one of Helena’s friends and I wonder if it had something to do with a relationship that didn’t work out. To me, that is a bigger story, what is causing this depression in successful, educated 20-30 something black women? Just the dating thing? Work pressures? A combination of things?

    • @d-milz: I think that’s something the article doesn’t do a great job of putting in perspective… the suicide and Helena’s upbringing.

      It’s almost like it’s just thrown in there for a little shock value. But there has to be more there, some depth to those two situations that isn’t being explained… maybe because she wants to save it for the book. Idk.

      … I think the big thing is that deep down most of people tend to hit a mid-20s crisis of sorts when they’re not winning in the relationship game. Most successful young people haven’t failed at much in life. They’ve charted their course and haven’t veered from it often. high school. college. job. grad school.

      But they can’t seem to make a relationship/marriage happen when they thought it was supposed to happen. I think a lot of them feel like they’re in that stage where they should be pressuring their boyfriends for engagements and they have no one to pressure but themselves.

      • Uh-oh Damon. I think you’ve stumbled upon something here.

        For most successful folks, they simply plotted a course and stayed on it right to the door of success. They got good grades in high school to get in a good college. They networked/connected with other “upwardly mobile” individuals and continued that good grade-making and headed right into grad school where they connected/networked with even more “upwardly mobile” people and then bam. Graduation day came, and so did the opportunity to open the door to (corporate) success.

        It worked with everything else, why not with relationships. That’s the b*tch (since we’re using this word) of it. There is no relationship handbook (I don’t care what Steve Harvey says) you just gotta jump in and see what happens.

        I think life becomes easier when you know the unexpected will happen and know how to just go with the flow and coast it out. If you think going to the same clubs/bars getting dressed up like you always do and playing those same games will get you anywhere other than where you are, you’re messed up. Relationships, I think, are the one place where “staying the course” does not always work.

      • @ Damon: Perhaps her upbringing (which sounds really strange) has given her some issues that make finding and being able to work well in a relationship challenging? She sounds really emotionally distant…maybe its her and NOT that she can’t find someone on her level.

        • @d-milz: It’s likely a combination of it all. I just hope that she realizes that she has to look inward and see her own obvious flaws are a big part of the problem.

  6. @jlbd.
    Congrats on your relationship. Def agree there are areas that black men need to step up in. I can write a whole book about that(maybe I will)
    The difference is there isnt an entire industry(books, media, articles, etc) devoted to why black men cant find a good black women.

    Black women too often look to books, tv, etc to help them answer their relationship questions. Ex: the Steve Harvey book selling effin millions. RIDICULOUS. You gotta consider the source. Instead of following what some comedian/actor has to say why dont you take your arse to church and listen to what that old black couple that has been married, WITHOUT infelity for 50 yrs has to say. I’m sure it would be 10x more valuable.

    • @Dash

      THANK YOU!!!! Those old successful black couples weren’t caught up in the ‘look at me’ epidemic. They both worked hard to have a successful family and the careers were just something that was done in the meantime. It didn’t DEFINE them. And, women back then actually made men work for their affection; they didn’t live off the government and take care of Tyrone who had no job, was shiftless, and screwed every chick in your building. It’s crazy…

  7. my friend forwarded me this link about precious

    and the main premise (precious got greenlit and received so much hollywood support, only because it highlighted that cliche again the big black male rapist ruining another black chick’s life)

    this is kind of along the same thought you bring up here. this book got green lit not because she was a great writer, but because she is telling yet another cliche.

    i say hmm to both

    • @gators_ftw:

      idk… I still don’t understand the purpose of Precious in film. It’s still mind-boggling why that story needed to be told on screen.

      This one’s a little different. A great writer can take a worn cliche and spin it on its head, like Tina Fey did. If Andrews actually satirizes herself and her predicament while being introspective, it could break away from the norm.

      • After giving myself a couple of weeks to digest Precious, I have come to the conclusion that it was likely best left as a book. It was a movie that I don’t see myself sitting through again, even if it randomly comes on cable one day. And, the short amount of time the movie has to give her story just isn’t long enough…

      • that was the point of the article. the story didnt need to be turned into a movie, but it was bec it rode that cliche. HARD.

  8. I agree with what jlbd and Dash commented on. Alot of black women get caught up in appearances and won’t give some good men a chance just because on paper they don’t meet their expectations. Just because a man has an advance degree and/or a high-paying job does not mean he is a good man. If some of these women would look more at the character of the man instead of his credentials then there would probably be a lot less lonely women out there.

    For the record, I have multiple advanced degrees and my husband has a high-school degree. His official education level has nothing to do with his intellect or his ability to make me happy.

    • @Tam

      Thank you! I have an MBA and my fiance is a army vet/barber/entrepreneur who is working on his degree right now. He is a wonderful man who treats me like a queen. Why would I pass him up for a man who makes 6 figures with a PhD but who may slap me around a few times/and or cheat on me, etc. Not to say that every successful man is like that but my point is that the person on the inside is who makes the man. I’ve always had the notion that I don’t care how many degrees you have, can you get paid???? …. is the main question…lol

  9. i’ve had time to really think about this (even google’d the definition of “buppie”). i def understand where the authoress is coming from, but the sad part is she believed the hype. let me say from 1st-hand downfall & disappointment that pretty + univ. education + padded salary + talent + being fed your whole life you can have everything you want DOES NOT = happiness. negative chica, negative. reality bites for real.

    i guess my only qualm with this why aren’t there films/documentaries of successful black women (MObama types) divulging what their “secret” is. no more discussing the symptoms, let’s get a film where older women are given the platform to tell us youngin’ spring chickens how to make it work, what the obstacles are, what they did to overcome setbacks, how they made a way, where their inner strength springs from, and above all else, what keeps them going. it’s this emotional healing many sisters are in need of, not yet another film/portrait of the problems. gimme solutions.

    • Agreed whole-heartedly. Now I do understand that discussing symptoms has its merits. It does allow one to determine the possible cause or causes of the the symptoms. But like you’ve stated, once these causes are identified we need to move on to the solutions. And we need to obtain these solutions from people who have actually been through the same issues, weathered the same storms, and have emerged victorious. More often than not both us men, and women spend our time discussing our bad relationship problems with others who are in bad relationships but who have never found a solution. (the “misery loves company” mindset). And we take this advice rather than seeking the advice of those who have are in positive healthy relationships. Also, we often blame the issues within the relationship on the partner without ever looking inward on ourselves to see how we may have contributed to said problems. If the writer, Helena Andrews, can offer deep insight into the issue, its causes, as well as solutions, and not just another Vivica Fox/Gabrielle Union movie (as D-Milz mentioned above) then it will definitely be a film worth seeing. Or even if she doesn’t have a solution (because maybe this movie is her cry for help/her search for a solution), if she can just offer an honest, unbiased look at the issue and not another stereotype i’ll be satisfied. I just hope that she doesn’t get caught up in the hype of trying to sell a movie and lose sight of her original purpose and the message she wishes to convey.

  10. ok, I know this has been addressed already but I finally got the chance to read both articles and/or threads regarding this book. This Andrews chick is definitely not over herself as I stated earlier. The funny thing is that I know so many other women like this (luckily they aren’t my friends) and they all seem to have it ‘together’ but can’t hold onto a man to save their life…is it really worth it? lol…

  11. Why should women who bring all of that to table not ask for the same? If I were single and in this dilemma I would rather date out than down.

    If you define happiness on the sole emotion of love, then I see your point. However, a professionally ambitious woman, one with a J.D, PhD,MBA, or MD or any other professional or terminal academic degree married to a blue collar work is in effect limiting her options in terms of her social and career capital. A spousal relationship is not limited to pure emotions for many people. So yes, a black man’s professional degrees can be a huge limit on growth in other areas when it comes to mismatched couples. I find its generally women who dont have to consider these sorts of things as a part of their relationship aspirations to be the quickest to advise others to date down.

    • wow, i normally don’t reply to day-old posts, but Ayanna i cannot believe what you just wrote.
      it’s this same misconception that many young ppl (women) don’t grasp–it’s not about what you have when you arrive, it’s about what you will obtain and be able to maintain THROUGHOUT the journey. jlbd’s finace is a perfect example. yes he’s a barber but he’s also going back to school to get his degree. he did not arrive with a degree, but this does not mean he cannot get one later. will it be as “easy?” maybe not. but he still shows that he values education, and this is a quality that goes beyond just education. it’s about potential of your mate. the fact that some women disqualify and write off brothers who did not follow the same path as you is just plain ol’ elitist. and i wouldn’t want to marry a man like that, and can understand why a man would avoid women like that.

    • @Ayanna

      I’m not judging you for wanting to date within your social construct, I think people should date according to whatever rules they wish.

      I do however disagree with your statement that a “professionally ambitious” woman is limiting her social and career options by marrying a blue collar worker. Why do you believe that? Possibly if the man is insecure and thus discouraging his wife from excelling then that could cause a problem but that could happen even if the man is also professionally ambitious but just not as successful as his wife.

      My husband does not have a professional career or any advanced degrees and I do. That has not in any way inhibited my career or social growth. I have continuously advanced in my career because I am ambitious and a hard worker, what my husband does for a living isn’t relevant.

      Maybe your argument is being misunderstood because as I read it, it does not make much sense.

      • When I speak of social growth, I’m referring to a ‘world’ that a blue collar could never be apart of. I don’t have any in my circle or connections so I may not run into those type of dudes. I don’t understand why those type of men are considered options for women (esp. BW) with professional degrees. Also, for sake of argument to me blue collar= no degree.

        I’m happy you have found your match.

        • “a world that a blue collar could never be apart of”….really? so if they don’t take the same path and march to the same drum beat they have no hope? it’s one thing if you don’t socialize in those circles, but to think if you did meet a man who is blue collar/no degree he would somehow be less than or not on your level is what leaves me dumb-founded.
          and i’m not judging you based on your preferrence to date in your social construct, i am offended that you give the impression that your preferrence is somehow better than because the men you prefer have more than. i wasn’t aware that what one has obtained somehow makes them better than another who does has not the same. how do degrees mean a man is a better man? yes they have more, but what they have does not make them better—they’re simply better off.

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