The Denzel Principle

Why Black Women Can't Find Good Black Men

by Jimi Izrael

Hardcover, 306 pages, St Martins Pr, List Price: $22.99 | purchase

Purchase Featured Book

Title
The Denzel Principle
Subtitle
Why Black Women Can't Find Good Black Men
Author
Jimi Izrael

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

Book Summary

A whimsical assessment of today's African-American man upholds the stereotype of Denzel Washington as a model of ideal masculine character while sharing advice on how women can set more realistic and satisfying standards.

Read an excerpt of this book

Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: The Denzel Principle

The Denzel Principle

People talk shit, but numbers don’t lie. According to smart white folks who know, two-thirds of all black marriages end in divorce, creating whole neighborhoods of single-parent families, usually headed by single mothers. This statistic really reflects less on black men and more on black women and their inability to make good choices. And it also precipitates the reason why many black women are looking for a man to be the father they never knew. They don’t know him well or have never met him, yet expect their prospective mate to be everything the little girl in them imagines him to be. No man alive can mea sure up to those expectations. It’s hard enough just being a stand-up cat in a world where nice guys finish last and assholes get all the pussy. But it doesn’t really matter, because women will make a good brother go bad. Because when they meet a good man, they don’t really know how to treat him.

See, a lot of sisters had no father growing up; they’ve spent their lives listening to their mothers argue with their fathers, talking down on that "no-good nigga," disrespecting anyone with a penis and simultaneously running boyfriends with expensive cars through her bedroom like she’s a top barber giving half-price cuts. Consequently, years down the road, the daughter wonders why, after all the loud talking, acting out, and bad-mouthing, she can’t keep a man in her unkempt house. Fuck it, she says. Her moms laid the groundwork for her daughter’s life of unhappiness simply by being a bad role model. Common sense suggests you treat people how you want to be treated, but it’s too easy for women to be like their mothers: angry and single.

Many of them have money of their own, but would rather use their pussy like a credit-card swiper to pay the bills. Not that they’re gold diggers, but they are motivated by money. This may sound a lot like just choosing a mate with superior qualifications, but in practical terms, it’s as if some women’s affection and time can be bought. Most brothers can read that game from the curb, and they know how to play it on the cheap. They run the chick to the Waffle House, the motel, and leave her cab fare on the dresser. Then she’s sitting there, talking about "that’s cold." It’s the man’s fault he didn’t hang out long enough for her to cash in. She turns to her girlfriends asking for advice, and they tell her to hold out for the gold-plated Mandingo pulling up in a Bentley with a trunk of Godiva chocolate to sweep her off on holiday to the Poconos. On her deathbed, she’ll still be waiting.

Black women say they have trouble finding the right guy, but the truth is some of them manage to find a new one every night, and word gets around. Or they find great guys—legitimately good brothers with jobs, benefits, and all their own teeth—and stay happy for about fifteen minutes. Then they wear them out emotionally (rarely sexually), get bored, step out of the relationship, and throw the proverbial dice in hopes of an upgrade. This becomes routine, and they end up spending their golden years with 50 cats and 150 ceramic collectables, trying to lure the mailman inside with a plate of food.

Now, men get a lot of the blame for destroying the black family because conventional wisdom suggests they spend all their time beating up women, shooting dice late into the night, stealing watermelon from Ofay the Farmer and being generally useless and unmarriageable. And let’s be honest: there are a lot of brothers out there fucking up, but not nearly as many as you think. Normally, those brothers wear their crazy on their sleeves. You can see—and oftentimes smell them—from the curb. Women tend to mask their crazy with lipstick, perfume, Apple Bottoms jeans, and such. Men aren’t as smart as women about these kinds of things, and often don’t know what they’re getting into.

That said, the thing is I know brothers aren’t responsible for the high divorce rate because we aren’t that particular. Men are not complicated creatures and don’t ask for much. All we want is a woman to work, cook, clean, and maybe give up a lil anal on our birthday. Sisters think they aren’t asking for the world by just looking for a man to meet their minimum standards. But their minimum is either the bare minimum or over the top. I know, because I see it all the time: black women jumping from knucklehead to knucklehead, chump to chump, hoping to get it right next time by consistently choosing from the bottom. They are in the Internet chat rooms, wearing tight dresses to Big Butt Nite at Da Club, and outside penitentiary gates on parole day waiting to pounce on anything with a pulse.

THIS JUST IN:

There is a movement building on the Internet just for women who like to date incarcerated and fresh-out-the-joint-type brothers. Women meet these guys, trying to help the penal system rehabilitate them, hoping to rebuild a man from the ground up. Not that convicts aren’t viable mates, but you can’t meet anyone at the coffee house, so you start trolling the prisons for husband material? What the hairy hot fuck is that about? Oh. Probably just a hairy, hot fuck. Jesus Christ on a saltine, that’s fucking stupid. But some women are so desperate for a man they can mold and control, it’s come to that. Holy shit.

Then there is the other extreme: sisters going out in search of Mr. Moneybags, who is most often an asshole. They try to lure men with spoiled bait and complain about the quality of men they attract. You know you can tell who they are, because they want to know what kind of car you drive just after they tell you to buy them a drink. They have an agenda, and they wear it like fake Louis Vuitton: garish and proud. But this is a good thing for Brother Paid N. Full. Because he can afford to shamelessly keep a stable of hoodrats and wannabe chicken heads eager to be mistreated in exchange for a seafood dinner. And the women? Well, they are more than happy to stand in line.

Strange, that.

Black women’s unrealistic standards are probably borne of bedtime stories about handsome, rich men on majestic horses rescuing damsels in distress. Girlfriends often tell similar apocryphal tales about the friend of a friend who nabbed a rich, hung sugar daddy who saved them from a life of dishpan hands and lower-middle-class drudgery. Through the influence of popular media and the misguided advice they give each other, sisters combine these images and presumptions to draw a composite of a perfect black man. No way he could exist, but far be it for something like common sense to stop the average woman from looking. Her friends meet men who are so close—so close, girl! With just one fatal flaw, like he snores or doesn’t get DIRECTV. But girl, she was so close! So as a tribe, they all just keep looking, telling themselves that accepting anything less than perfection would be "settling," because they’ve been convinced that the perfect man exists. This goes on until this perfect black man becomes like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, with cults of nutjobs trading information, hunting tips, and fish stories about the one that got away, their lives committed to hunting and capturing a creature who could not possibly exist. But wait!—just like Sasquatch and Nessie, Mr. Right is on the cover of every magazine, the star of many movies, and the next guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show . . . right?

Of course he is.

This delusion is called the Denzel Principle, or the Dizzle for short. The Dizzle causes black women’s standards to be so high as to cause them to be disaffected, disappointed, or deceived. It’s an affliction most commonly spread in beauty salons and hen se