'Stella' Author Terry McMillan and Divorce

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Celebrated author Terry McMillan made headlines six years ago when she married a much younger man. Her marriage inspired her best-selling novel How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Now, she's going through a nasty divorce. Jimi Izrael, a columnist for the AOL Black Voices Web site, says he was skeptical of the marriage from the start.

ED GORDON, host:

Celebrated author Terry McMillan made headlines six years ago when she married a much younger man. Her marriage inspired her best-selling novel "How Stella Got Her Groove Back." That story is in the news again as the couple endures a nasty divorce. Commentator Jimi Izrael says he was skeptical of the marriage from the start.


It appears that McMillan's groove thing liked to get his groove on with other men. Yeah, that's a shame. The dissolution of a marriage is a painful thing, but I can't feel sorry for Terry McMillan, not even a little. This relationship could have only ended in divorce.

Now the May-December aspect is fine with me, but the idea of vacationing in Jamaica and picking up a husband like a souvenir shot glass is absolutely ludicrous. She was 43 when she met him. Why wasn't she a little smarter? I bet I know why. In Plummer, McMillan met a guy she could groom as a personal manservant. She didn't want a mate; she wanted a puppy. Now my `gaydar' isn't flawless. I've tried to pick up on women only to find out that they were lesbians--or at least they told me they were. Hey, it happens. But when I saw press photos of McMillan and Plummer together all those years ago, I said to my then-wife, `Hmmm, dude looks a little light in the loafers.'

Plummer asked her to set him up with a dog-grooming business to keep him busy. Now this offered me a clue. Now what kind of man wants to be set up in a dog-grooming business? He doesn't have to be a blacksmith or run a strip bar, but come on! Let's be serious. The down-low alarm this turn of events has set off will be deafening. That'll make it even harder for heterosexual brothers to find a woman.

J.L. King has moved a lot of books pimping on the alleged down-low phenomenon, of straight-acting men sleeping with other men in secret, as if it's the Black Plague or sickle-cell, some unstoppable pandemic decimating African-American nightclubs, poetry readings and barbecues from coast to coast. But I'm not convinced that the increase of AIDS cases among black women reflects an increase in homosexual activity among black men as much as it suggests an increase in irresponsible sexual behavior among black women--like black women going on vacation and picking up Jamaican cabana boys, for instance.

But it doesn't seem anybody needs an excuse to accuse and abuse black men. The bookshelves spill over with crazy books vilifying black men. Anything that emasculates, demonizes and denigrates black men will become a best-seller. I'm waiting for the book celebrating the rest of us: the hardworking, bone-straight brothers who can't find a decent black woman. Maybe one of these days Terry McMillan will write that one, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

GORDON: Jimi Izrael is an essayist and columnist for the Web site AOL BlackVoices.

Commentator Betty Baye sees this sticky situation from a different light. She'll offer her take on the divorce tomorrow.

This is NPR News.

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