Essence Relationships Editor Demetria Lucas

*In her post “A Response To Nightline’s Black Single Ladies’ Face-Off,” Essence relationships editor Demetria Lucas shares her critical reaction to this week’s “Nightline” segment, “Why Can’t A Successful Black Woman Find A Man?” 

Lucas is also the author of the blog and was profiled in Tuesday’s Washington Post piece, “Dating Guru Demetria Lucas, Pointing the Way to Eligible Black Men”, where she gave great dating tips for black women. 

Lucas writes: 

Confession: For several weeks now, I’ve been living in fear. It started when I learned “Nightline” was headed back to Atlanta for a “Face-Off” debate with the title, “Why Can’t A Successful Black Woman Find A Man?”

Before I even knew the line-up (Steve Harvey, Sherri Shepherd, Jacque Reid, Hill Harper, Jimi Izreal) or the questions (though as Essence’s Relationships Editor, I guessed most of them), all I could think about was the aftermath of a show they did about the same topic back in December. What ensued was a sort of Single Black Woman hysteria, an expected reaction when it’s repeatedly implied that checking “single” on an application of any kind after 30 means you have somehow failed in life, and that your prospects of finding a great guy to love and love you back are pretty slim.  

It’s possible this topic has been so over-covered that I’m numb. But actually? The segment wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. (Jimi Izreal though?) I guess when you bring men and women to a roundtable to discuss relationships–as Essence did in its May issue, currently on stands–you cut through a lot of the outlandish speculation and have a real progressive discussion. All forthcoming conversations about the state of heterosexual relationships should implement this policy as it’s never made sense to me why same sex groups are expected to address a dual sex concern. 

The panel, moderated by Nightline’s Vicki Mabrey, covered the usual fair–interracial dating, Black men with Peter Pan syndrome, and the Obamas. But throughout, the lack of communication between the sexes bothered me. It seemed no matter how many times Sherri and Jacque reiterated what black women want in a man—a guy with a steady job, who is secure with himself, who can provide a friendship, and partnership, and maybe help them take out their cornrows from time to time—the male half of the panel didn’t seem to get it. Instead of listening to the ladies, Izreal told them what they wanted (as if): a Denzel prototype. Steve told the women the simple things they wanted weren’t possible (you want a man to help take out your cornrows? Not in his DNA.) If five good and grown black adults who all work in some fashion in the field of communication–and every man on the panel has a book on relationships–can’t make sense of what the opposite sex wants, I wondered what hope does that leave for the rest of us? 

I took away some useful male insight from the panelists–I am the potential link to a man’s success, men may be more ashamed of their lack of success than “intimidated” by a woman’s accomplishments, and men aren’t trying to see me taking out my hair. But ultimately, what I re-learned was the biggest obstacle to building healthy relationships might be an inability to catch on to the fundamentals like communication and hope. I know it will take more than just that to get us down the aisle and over the broom, but we’ve got to get a command of the basics if we ever expect to go from RSVPing for weddings to planning them.

Demetria Lucas, Relationships Editor Essence Magazine