The art of Kevin Blythe Sampson

THE ART OF
KEVIN BLYTHE SAMPSON

1/26/11

Steve Harvey has no business giving relationship advice

EntertainmentOpinion

Steve Harvey has no business giving relationship advice


Steve Harvey has no business giving relationship advice

Steve Harvey signs copies of his book 'Straight Talk, No Chaser' at Borders Book Store on January 19, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)

But if were to believe you or some others in the mainstream media, it might be hard to notice some of our accomplishments, as black women and as a black community.

Last year, Melissa Harris-Perry published an article criticizing you and your colleagues for framing low rates of marriage in the black community as a "black female problem" rather than a community issue. As Harris-Perry pointed out, male commenters and pundits like you, Steve Harvey, are often allowed to "pontificate about the ways that black women should behave" without challenging their own contributions to dialogue about sex, gender, love, and romance.

Harris-Perry was right. You divisively over-emphasize differences between the sexes, and downplay our similarities and mutual respect. You blatantly ignore that some of us are lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer. You imply that today's black women need to get and keep a man by any means necessary, and at all costs, to find happiness, and that, regardless of our successes and accomplishments in life, we have to put them behind us to do so. And these accusations hurt not only women, but everyone in our community.

It's no secret that black men and black women have had our differences and our struggles over the years. We've battled, in our homes, in our classrooms, in our workplaces, to find and define equal partnerships and respectful coexistence. And that's a good thing. That's what our new modern world demands. That's what helps set us apart as a community, and what will help us grow stronger with time.

It's laughable to think that anyone with such over-simplified views of black women and rigid, heteronormative, and frankly, outdated ideas about love and partnership could be dispensing viable dating advice, because the state of the black union is being revolutionized as we speak:

These days, women don't "get and keep a a man"-- people choose to stay together or they break up. Women aren't either with a man or miserably single -- they're with other women, or dating, or choosing to abstain from a relationship for a variety of reasons. Women and men aren't embroiled in some silly power games- there are no "winners" or "losers" in your made-up battle of the sexes. And women aren't thinking or acting like men- they're engaging the world around them as whole human beings, with sex and gender as just two characteristics of a full and complex being. Our relationships aren't about manipulation and deceit. There's compatibility and chemistry, choice and options, desire and fulfillment.

It's not a utopia. In many ways were making it up as we go along. But you can be sure, it is a new world. Black feminist wonder Beverly Guy-Sheftall put it best when she encouraged the next generation of the black community to "abandon the scripts you hear and ask yourself, 'What kind of life do I want to live?'". As Guy-Sheftall put it, that is what constitutes liberation -- defining your life for yourself.

That's why your ignorant psychobabble doesn't work on us. We're not buying it. We're thinking for ourselves, and defining love and partnership in terms of what works for us. Your gender wars have no power here.

And that's the state of our union.

Steve Harvey has no business giving relationship advice