Behind the Curtain at TMM

Diary Of Mad, Sad, Glad Black Women

Alicia Montgomery is a Producer for Tell Me More.

Alicia Montgomery is a Producer for Tell Me More. Monika Evstatieva/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Monika Evstatieva/NPR

Whew! We've had three different hosts this week (Korva Coleman, Linda Wertheimer and Allison Keyes) and they've covered countless topics on the program.

One of the hot button segments focused on the high numbers of unmarried and childless black women with advanced degrees. Host Allison Keyes conducted several interviews, including her talk with the co-author of a study on the subject, followed by a conversation with two African-American women that have achieved educational success and now want husbands. Plus, Allison talked with a spirited group of men in the Tell Me More "Barbershop," moderated by Jimi Izrael. He had the women in this office talking with his piece for TheRoot.com, "Memo to Black Women: Get Real." You've GOT to take a moment and listen to the interviews. Babies, I want to get you fired up for the weekend.

Oh, I have a few thoughts for you on the subject, but I also want to share this space with a few more women - Alicia Montgomery is the senior producer for TMM. She's going to tell you why dating outside the race may not be an option for "good" black women. Our Assistant Editor Jennifer Longmire shares her love story - she's over 35, has a graduate degree and she's marrying her long time beau in Las Vegas next week. Congratulations Jen! Plus, we have a special blog submission from Kimberly Hill, she's the president of a consulting firm - she participated in today's discussion. Hill had some additional thoughts after the microphones were turned off.

But first, I wrote last week about being an unmarried, childless and advanced degree having black woman. I asked you not to cry for me but I didn't tell you why. I've had a good single life. I travel. I take countless classes. I cook when I want if I want. And I don't have to answer any questions about being responsible if I make an unreasonable purchase (shoes, handbag, jewelry).

I liked that ... then, I turned 40.

Damn it!

Now, what I'm about to share is awful. I'm not proud and you can talk about me if you want to. But, I just recently started agonizing about not being married and having kids because I've been thinking about aging. Who will care about me and see to my well-being when I'm a cute old woman? I don't want to be tied to a wheel chair with a rag stuffed in my mouth. Let's face it. We don't take care of old people worth a damn in this country. I'm starting to think a husband with a little retirement savings and life insurance policy —combined with my savings— could get me some decent elder care. And a child or two could make sure I'm not laying in a dirty bed of stale urine with my hair matted to my head. What?!? I said my story was awful. Keep an eye out for any prospects. In the mean time - I did promise you more stories.

Up Next - Alicia Montgomery - what you got?

Why More Black Women Don't Marry Outside The Race

Tell Me More Producer Jennifer Longmire will soon wed her longtime love and college beau Arthur Wrig

Tell Me More Producer Jennifer Longmire will soon wed her longtime love and college beau Arthur Wright. Courtesy of Jennifer Longmire hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Jennifer Longmire

Thanks, Teshima. Alicia Montgomery, here ...

Originally I planned to produce an online panel discussion that would pick up where our on-air conversation today left off. But the demands of helping to produce this week's show carried away the time I THOUGHT I had for my plan.

That's kind of what happened to my plans to get married. Like so many educated, young women of all colors, I started choosing music, flowers and dresses for my wedding as a teenager, long before there was a credible candidate for Prince Charming anywhere in sight. But my real life — full of fascinating friends, thrilling work and a few questionable choices — put pursuing marriage on my "tomorrow list," things that I'll do, just as soon as I get the time ... which often turns out to be never.

So I'm glad that Tell Me More had this conversation, and there's one thread of it that I want to address: the question of why more black women don't marry outside the race.

Before I start, though, I have to put some of my personal business in the street: while most of the men I've dated have been black, I've also dated men of other races, including a serious relationship when I was much younger with a white man. And I can say from experience that — as a black woman — those relationships can subject you to a constant chorus of muttered grumbles and outright verbal attacks from strangers, family members and friends.

When you go out with a white guy, no matter how decent and wonderful a person HE may be, the subtle and not-so-subtle racist digs you're subjected to in your 9 to 5 work hours follow you into what are SUPPOSED to be the fun hours.

You have to constantly explain to the restaurant greeters, yes you want to be seated at the same table. His friends may greet you with a labored and unnatural "WASSUP!" at a party. His parents could wonder — aloud and sometimes in your presence — what they did wrong that he would bring you home.

And the scolding and hostility you sometimes draw from other black people can be devastating.

For many African Americans, dating white guys is just not something nice girls do. Some black men, even those who have ZERO romantic interest in you, will think — and sometimes TELL you — that you're a sellout whore for dating a white man. Black women may be more subtle in their disapproval, but sometimes not.

I was walking down the street with a platonic friend when a homeless black woman, who I had once given money to, shouted after me that "black and white don't mix." When I joined my boyfriend's family at a restaurant, the black women at the next table spent the evening pointing and laughing at us. And —while my extended family was overwhelmingly supportive — one of my loved ones did openly speculate that I was only dating my boyfriend for his (non-existent) fortune.

Now, while all this is perfectly survivable, it's a really crummy way to spend a date. It might not end a romance where you feel like Juliet and he's Romeo, but it's daunting for the average "he's-a-nice-guy-you-both-like-Thai-food-and-enjoy-karaoke" -type of relationship. That's why I get really irritated when movies or television shows like "Friends" feature a black female character who is all smiles and easy banter with white boyfriends.

It's also why I've sometimes — but not always — made myself scarce or acted sketchy with white male friends who I thought might be interested in me or who I found myself attracted to. In most cases, the friendship survived. But once, I let the dread of a closer relationship kill a friendship with someone I really cared about.

Hey, you know who you are. I'm sorry.

And now congrats are in order to someone who is experiencing the highs of love ...

Jennifer's Love Story

Teshima Walker is Senior Supervising Producer for Tell Me More.

Teshima Walker is Senior Supervising Producer for Tell Me More. Courtesy of Teshima Walker hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of Teshima Walker

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