The Old Must Go for the New to Come

In January 2010, I crammed 25 years of my life into two little 50 lbs bags and headed out on a China-bound plane to educate the young and inquisitive minds of Dalian on all things American. But why? Why leave a coveted associate producer position at CBS (and six years of journalism training to boot) and head off to a lowly English teaching position in China? Why? Because, frankly, I've learned getting what you think you want out of life isn't always what it's cracked up to be. What follows are the tales of my trials and triumphs (like overcoming my fear of the dreaded squatty potty) and the lessons I've learned along the way...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Afric-Asian Relation: My Solution to the Black Gender Gap

So the other day, a friend of mine sent me a link to a televised panel discussion about the plight of the single, successful black female (hereafter, referred to as SSBF). Now, as a card-carrying member of the SSBF crew, I am already painfully aware that the statistics for lifelong companionship do not appear in my favor. I know the numbers…the fact that 43 percent of black women living in the U.S. are single, and that, that number jumps to a whopping 70 percent among educated black women. I’ve watched far too many reports on it to count (most of which only serve to reaffirm what I already know) and engaged in my share of heated discussions on the topic (an inevitable by-product of any social gathering involving food and a group of black women.)  And despite having watched, read and ranted this subject into the ground, I, of course, tuned in to watch yet another group of men and women fire back and forth about who is to blame for this prevelant plight of singlehood...nodding, clapping and “mm-hmm”-ing in perfect synchronization with the 602 other SSBFs seated in the audience.

Afterward, I, naturally, turned to a fellow SSBF (via Skype) to bemoan the unfairness of our demographic quandary. “It's just not fair,” I lamented. “We work so hard and we have so much knowledge and the trade off is we're more likely to be single? I mean, really, what the frik?” What the frik, indeed.  The sad truth is, that—incarceration, homosexuality and color complexes, aside—even if every single black man in America married a black woman, that would still leave 1.8 million black women empty-handed (or should I say, empty-fingered.) It’s a staggering and disheartening number, enough to have a sistah feel like throwing in the towel on marriage altogether. But before you start picking out titles and names for all those romantic comedies and cats you plan to collect over the next few years, let me just point out to you another even more astounding statistic…At present, in China, Asian men outnumber Asian women by about 18 million, and that number is expected to grow to nearly twice as much over the next decade. America, there aren’t enough black men for black women…In China, there aren’t enough Asian women for Asian men…Hmmm, are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Now, before you go all “Heffa, is you crazy?” on me, just hear me out, okay? I happen to have a very good friend who has been dating a Chinese man for over a year now and couldn’t be happier. And perhaps, I’ve just been living in China for too long, but I’m really starting to check out some of these zhong guo ren boys...and some of them are quite promising. I mean, at first glance, Chinese men and black men couldn’t seem more different. But over time, I’ve noticed some marked similarities. For example, most young Chinese men love the NBA and hip-hop; they also like to sing along with their MP3 players loud enough for all the world to hear (and you know, you can’t get on a metro in America without hearing at least one brotha who thinks he’s Lil Wayne); and they can often be seen rocking bright-colored sneakers, blazers and pastel button-downs—or as I like to call it, the “Kanye kanjian (look).” And while I have yet to actually date a Chinese man myself, I've gotten a few numbers and I certainly wouldn’t object to it. Why not, right? I mean, really, let’s look at some of the pros...


1.  Contrary to the stereotype, not all Asian men are small (in height and stature, that is…get your mind out of the gutter.) Northeast China, where I live, is known as the land of the giants, and let me tell you there are some titans here (If I’m not mistaken, this is the same region that gave us Yao Ming.) So if you’re like me, and you have a thing for tall men, you’ve got a multitude of prospects. I dare say, I’ve even seen more men over six feet here than when I was living in NYC…And they’re pretty well-built too (well, at least, the ones I see on a regular basis at the gym.)

2.  Chilvary is not dead in China. Many of the young Chinese men I’ve met here are complete gentlemen and total romantics. In China, it’s rare to see the kind of groping, straddling and slobbering that’s grown so disgustingly common among American youth…but you will see a lot of cuddling and coddling. Watching Chinese men work their game is like watching a Backstreet Boys video. They will tell you you’re beautiful, they will hold your purse, they will give you sappy lines like “You are the flower of my heart” and actually mean it.  Sure, it’s a bit extra and cheesy at times, but hey, at least, you will have a man who will treat you like the extraordinary Nubian queen that you are.

3.  They will be in awe of your beautiful masses of curly, kinky hair…and probably, be elated if presented with the opportunity to help take out your cornrows :o)

4.  They like to sing.

5.  Beautiful Blackanese Babies!!! (Don’t front, you know that’s what you were thinking, too!)

6.  When China takes over the world, they will have your back.

But as with any relationship, there is always a flip side. So here are some of the Cons:

1.  Thanks to international hits like “Friends” and “Sex and the City,” the Chinese, in general, tend to think one-night stands are a way of life for American women (It also doesn’t help that images of Britney Spears seem to grace the front of just about every sex shop I’ve seen in China). Therefore, while Chinese men generally don’t seem to be the forward type, it's quite possible they're dating you in hopes of getting to know a lot more than just your culture. 

2.  That darn language barrier: Ok, fyi, for the native English speaker, Mandarin Chinese is extremely difficult to learn (I’ve been studying for about three months now and I’m just getting to the point where I can give half-way decent directions to a cab driver and hold two-word conversations with the cleaning lady at my school and the staff at the gym)…So I suppose, there would be quite a bit of awkward silence on a first date and a conversation consisting primarily of “Hi, how are you?” “I’m fine, thank you. And you?” “I like apples.” “Apples are red.” “Oranges are orange.” “I am American.” “I am Chinese.” "Today is Tuesday." Smile. Nod. Eat.

3.  In China (or Dalian, at least), the people don’t shower as often as Americans. So you know that wonderful, fresh, cologney scent on men that just makes you want to melt…yeah, you won’t get that all.

4.  If he offers to drive you home, ride at your own risk.  I’m not in the business of reinforcing stereotypes, but I must be real with you…the one about Chinese being bad drivers… sorry, but that’s a pretty valid one (from driving on the wrong side of the road to driving on sidewalks…oh, the 
stories I could tell.)

5.  They like to sing.

Yes, so there are some cons, but what man is not without his faults? And yes, I admit I’ve made some very broad generalizations here, but as you can see the pros outweigh the cons. In any case, my SSBF sistahs, we’ve got to stop stressing over the current scarcity of selection among our own demographic and start broadening our horizons. The time has come not just to cross color lines but to cross border lines. This is by no means a diss to our strong, hard-working black men. Don’t get it twisted. I love black men. And I know whole-heartedly that there are many wonderful black men out there. But this is a matter of supply and demand, we’re talking about here.  I mean, there are some SSBFs who are perfectly content with the idea of being single for the rest of their lives (just look at Oprah) and that's fantastic…but I'm not one of them. However, I’m also not going to settle. The fact is that just because you can’t find your match within your race or even within your country, doesn’t mean you have to stop there. There are a lot of great men everywhere. And we SSBFs are great women, so I think we owe it to ourselves to keep our options open.  


  1. I suppose I am the very good friend? lol You should also mention that the Asian man you choose to date needs to have open-minded parents. While your guy may be totally down with the sistas, many of their parents are old world and traditional and would faint if they married anyone of non-Chinese decent, and most Asian children don’t like to displease their parents. You should also be aware that you will get looks and maybe even comments from the races of your partner, as with any interracial dating situation. Holding hands while walking through Chinatown always gets attention, and you feel like you should write an explanation on your forehead for people to read! While I appreciate Asian culture and love Asian art, I definitely wasn't purposely seeking out their men. We just happened to click--not to mention he was semi-raised by a black godmother and has the soul of a 40 year old black man from Harlem, which makes it way easier to relate to him, but I digress. I do agree that black women should not limit ourselves when black men certainly do not. Date all races! Not saying to give up on our brothas but, you definitely learn a lot. And for the record, my man is from Taiwan lol. :) Good luck, love ur blog!

  2. Congrats on your choice :) i hope one day, when I'm not struggling with money to take time and meet an Asian guy in my life


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