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Black Women, Athletes and Why Ocho Cinco Can't Win

Thursday, July 15, 2010 , Posted by JD at 6:51 PM

Chad Ocho Cinco's new dating 'reality' show "Ultimate Catch" debuted last Sunday. But before it ever hit the airwaves, the fact that only two black girls out of the initial 85 were chosen to compete while the rest of the contestants are of white, latina, or ambiguous decent. [In case you're interested, the owner of Ethnicity Talent who casted the show blogged about what really went down on the set. Click here to read.]

Since the showed aired, the conversation about Chad's preferences has intensified with many black women expressing anger at Chad's seeming lack of interest in people who look like them.  As these conversations typically go, the subject starts with one athlete's preferences, then extends out to other athletes, then black male celebrities, then black men in general. Pretty soon, all the bases have been covered:

  • Date who you want as long as it's not a fetish
  • Date who you want as long as you don't put down black women
  • It's unnatural for people to have a preference for people who don't look like them, it's evidence of self-hate
  • Black men put women of other races on a pedestal
  • It hurts to have the men you desire (meaning black men in general) believe that you are somehow beneath them and other women are a prize 
  • Some black men think black women are good enough to make babies with but not good enough to marry [Note: All 3 mothers of Chad's children are black. Yes I said all THREE.]


Okay, got it.

I have two main issues with black athletes who typically date outside of their race being labeled as having a "preference" when, unlike Chad Ochocinco, they haven't themselves made any statement indicating that that is the case. Both issues relate to the ability or lack of ability of black women to be in the company of these men as often as other races of women are. 

1. Black women are dissed for pursuing athletes. When it comes to well-known black men, athletes in particular,  dating outside their race, it's interesting to see black women rush to stick up for other black women when they believe black women are being rejected. Too bad no one rushes to black women's defense when they are putting themselves in positions to meet these men. 

Any time there is a event or club appearance that is going to feature athletes, all of those women get lumped into the category of groupie or ho or golddigger. It doesn't matter that your intention may be to just go and hang with your friends, you're going to be painted under that umbrella and negative comments will follow. I have even seen people call women who have athlete boyfriends gold diggers even though they have no idea how they met. I was, quite frankly, appalled at the comments on blogs and on my twitterfeed about the Basketball Wives. I didn't like how comfortable black women were referring to other black women as whores and golddiggers having as yet no real insight into the relationships between those women and the athletes they dated.

When I've been out hanging with athletes I see more "other" types of women making a point to get close to these men. One night out in VIP at Mansion in MIA and you can see right away why so many athletes are stepping outside of the black box.

It must be noted that athletes are not the only types of men who have groupies. Many times athletes are groupies themselves [video model meet athlete, athlete meet video model]. Yet the black woman as groupie gets the lions share of attention and the blame for that belongs squarely in black people's hands. 

Conclusion: you want athletes to go out of their way to date black women but you don't want black women to go out of their way to date athletes. Okay. Gotcha.

2. Don't disregard the issue of access. Last summer, Chad was playing around on Ustream during training camp and discussing interracial dating with his then teammate Laverneus Coles. Coles, who at the time had a girlfriend I believe was Black and Moroccan (if my memory serves me correctly), made a great point about access to athletes. He said that when he's going about his daily routine, he doesn't see a lot of black women. 

Now, on its face you may think that's not true. But it absolutely is. When the Cincinnati Bengals played the Baltimore Ravens last year in October, I was invited out to dinner by Chad's then girlfriend. At the dinner Cincinnati staff, family, and friends (all white), and an HBO producer I believe from the Hard Knocks series (white). The black people were myself, Chad, and Coach Hue Jackson. 

That got me thinking...whenever I have been around professional athletic team staff they have mostly been white people and quite a few white women. Then I begin thinking of the PR people and managers that work with athletes and IF they are women they are typically white or even Latina. 

I took that further and applied it to college. I went to a predominantly white school that has produced quite a few professional athletes. At my alma mater there is a group of girls that  are delegates to the football team. I remember there being MAYBE 1 or 2 black girls working as delegates while I was there. I never even considered becoming a delegate and neither did any of my black friends. Additionally, not very many black women majored in kinesiology or sports management, degree areas that put you in close contact with future or present athletes. 

Conclusion: People largely date who's around them. Black women don't always enjoy the access to these men that other races of women do. 


To speak to Chad specifically, even had he not expressed a preference, there was no way for him to win this round with black women. Right now he's being bashed because he is appearing to "reject" black women. But if he would have had an all black cast of women, the criticism of him would have been "Why do you have all those black women on TV acting "ghetto." Why do those women have to represent us?" [If you want an answer to that question, just ask yourself what type of woman has 3 weeks to spare from work and no reputation to damage?]

To bring this all together...

I realize that this issue is deeper than Chad, deeper than athletes and deeper than Deepwater Horizon. I know that those black men who appear on TV are merely representative and that black womens' main concern about this issue is the regular guys that may have non-black preferences which they believe limits their dating pool. 

The problem with being angry about it is that if your contention is that a man who never dates black women may be self-hating, the next thing to consider is how that self-hate came about. Self-hate doesn't appear out of thin air. So let's say, there is a black man Terrell Owens  who doesn't date black women because he was teased growing up and black women gave him no play before he had money. In order for that man to change you would need him to 1. recognize he has a preference (easy enough) 2. Recognize that preference as a symptom of something deeper  (good luck) 3. Work to combat that preference (ah hell no).

With all the women out there in the world, asking a man to perform self-reflection on a choice that is non-damaging to HIM as an individual seems like a waste of time to me. And if you believe that the self-hate is due to socialization then it seems sort of unfair to single out black men for exhibiting this particular symptom. 

Lots of people all around the world are intrigued by what they consider to be exotic. The difference with black women is that we've been fed a line of "black men are special" all of our lives whereas black men have not received the same message about black women. If it's fair to ask black men to evaluate how socialization has impacted their dating choices, it's just as fair to question those black women who ONLY want to date black men (a choice that actually DOES have consequences). And no one wants to do that right?


























Currently have 13 comments:

  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm not sure but I could have sworn that there was a story out about an employee of a black magazine who said that she was on the set when they picked the girls (they were picked in advance)and that he specifically said that he didn't want ANY black women in the line up for his upcoming show.

    I have to go look to see where I read this story but from what it said, all the girls were there and when Ocho came in and they all met him, he saw the girls and got very irritated. One of the producers took him off to the side to find out what was wrong and happened to be within hearing range of the magazine exec.

    She heard Ocho say that he wanted the black women replaced with white and latina girls. The producer said that they had to keep some black women or people would notice and instead encouraged Ocho to keep an open mind and pick at least 3 black women. Ocho then went back out and picked what the magazine employee says were the most trashiest of the black girls that were there! The other women who you could tell had a semblance of class was shown the door. When asked why she thought he did that, her reply was," So that when they got eliminated no one would blame him."
    Not sure if this was a true story and again if I find it I will come back with the link but just thought I'd let you know what was out there....and judging from the way he was acting on "Dancing with the Stars" his days with Black women are OVER!!!!

  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm not sure but I could have sworn that there was a story out about an employee of a black magazine who said that she was on the set when they picked the girls (they were picked in advance)and that he specifically said that he didn't want ANY black women in the line up for his upcoming show.

    I have to go look to see where I read this story but from what it said, all the girls were there and when Ocho came in and they all met him, he saw the girls and got very irritated. One of the producers took him off to the side to find out what was wrong and happened to be within hearing range of the magazine exec.

    She heard Ocho say that he wanted the black women replaced with white and latina girls. The producer said that they had to keep some black women or people would notice and instead encouraged Ocho to keep an open mind and pick at least 3 black women. Ocho then went back out and picked what the magazine employee says were the most trashiest of the black girls that were there! The other women who you could tell had a semblance of class was shown the door. When asked why she thought he did that, her reply was," So that when they got eliminated no one would blame him."
    Not sure if this was a true story and again if I find it I will come back with the link but just thought I'd let you know what was out there....and judging from the way he was acting on "Dancing with the Stars" his days with Black women are OVER!!!!

    BronzeNova

  1. Anonymous says:

    Someone wants to date Ocho?!? Lol. It's a dating reality show. Obviously it is fake. What is to get all up in arms about. Plus, who wants to date a NFL player. After seeing Ocho on Dancing with the Stars, him buying his non-black partner all these gifts and basically begging to get with her I now see why 80% of all NFL players are bankrupt within two years of leaving the league. I hope those baby mamas got him to set up a trust for their children because he clearly doesn't have any sense.

  1. A.Smith says:

    You raise some excellent, excellent, excellent points. Chief among them, access. And your first 2 points go hand in hand. We don't have the "general" access to them (work, networking, etc...) and any access we are able to get is looked down upon by others. We can't win and neither can the athletes.

    If the charges leveraged against Ochocinco, that he in fact requested that there be no black women, are true -- well shame on him... but it's still his show.

    Everytime this topic comes up, I ask if it's ever going to be possible for us to talk about what' really bothering us. It's not that some athletes don't date black women even though that's what we say.

    It's that we know don't have the same access to them (maybe)
    It's that we feel like no one in this country wants us (maybe)
    It's that we're tired of being compared to non-black women (maybe)

    It's something. It may be none of those things, it may be all plus some things -- but it's NOT really about the individual choices of the athletes. I know this because of the tendency, as you point out, for folks to take a few individuals' actions and use a broad brush to paint them as actions of the whole (which is so hypocritical cause black folks KNOW we hate when white folks do that)

  1. *starts the slow clap leading to thunderous applause*

    All I can say is WORD to every point you've raised in this post. Especially the one about access. Honestly, I just think that people are too concerned with who other people are dating. Leave it alone. Who cares?

  1. Anonymous says:

    In all honesty, why are women upset about not being represented on a dating reality show? By now we already know that these shows like to show the worst of ALL races, which means enforcing stereotypes that people already have about black women. Why would you want to be represented as such? People need to be more upset about black women not being represented on levels that are actually important. Getting outraged about a staged television show is just...just no.

  1. Anonymous says:

    I'm so happy you brought up the access issue. That's really the bottom line to me. People date people in their social/work circles. I also think these men have the ability to go after whatever women they want because of their status. They don't just gawk at the model in the magazine, they call up her agent and get a date with her lol.

    The bottom line of this issue IMO is that black women feel inadequate and we place the blame on black men or society or whoever the hell. Why do rich black men have any obligation to date only black women? because let's face it, this issue only comes up when the Man is rich or successful. Which, makes throwing the insult of gold-digger around even more ridiculous. It seems the black women who have this issue are only angry they can't get that rich man lol.

    Black women with a sense of self-worth aren't making these complaints b/c they don't believe their worth is defined by a man lol. People with happy lives don't sit around worrying about what other people do with their genitals lol. Just look at the women who flood blogs, forums, hair salons with this mess. All miserable women who are jealous of those girls that get "chosen" and really want to be the gold-diggers they bash.

  1. Bru Major says:

    I will keep this short. You say that people date who they are around...Ok, but then if you are on a show that gives you 85 women to choose from (with about 20 being Black), your premise goes out the window. Also, this dude picked a woman that was trying to smash the homies (Terrell). Anyone who can pick a woman like that (especially one who is of a different race) has got some issues

  1. and1grad says:

    Definitely agree about access & availability. I've always found it funny how black women seem to believe that every brother, famous or otherwise, steps out of his house...and walks through Ebony, JET, and Essence magazine. Like they don't know they're "minorities" or forgot. Unless you live in a very black area, you prob have to go a little out of your way to find yourself inundated with black folks.

    I know a few brothers that could tell a very similar tale to what you say about T.O. However, I'm unwilling to characterize it as self-hate, as so many black women do. IMO, "self-hate" is one of those faux diagnoses so-called "academics" like to say to make themselves sound intelligent. They're like rappers to me. Floating around bullshit in an effort to impress. I think the TO situation is actually just based on resentment. Can't help but think that's pretty common.

    "If it's fair to ask black men to evaluate how socialization has impacted their dating choices, it's just as fair to question those black women who ONLY want to date black men (a choice that actually DOES have consequences). And no one wants to do that right?"

    I do! LOL

  1. Dash says:

    Yes, *applause* This is very true and I have discussed this in the past with friends. One of my guy friends joked I was going to end up marrying a Jewish man because that is the group that is predominantly in my field.
    I would like to dig deeper into this topic of "black women ONLY wanting to date black men" it's fascinating to me.

  1. I don't see what the problem is. If he wants to date women outside of his race then that is his choice. I would support him if I understood the game he is involved in, if he is talented and if he gives back to the community.Other than this, I don't care. Is he that much of a catch??!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like a bunch of excuses to me. Access my ass, these are professional athletes, they can go look for what they want, they are certainly not limited the way that the majority of us are. True, it certainly isn't about the individual except for the fact that this is all that is represented constantly--we are all inundated lately with the degradation/dismissal of black women, whether its youtube, blogs, books, tv nightly news formats or tv dating shows. In the end, the ones who really can't win are black women.

  1. I looooooooooooooooooooved #1, since that double standard is so true: Black athlete you can either date a Black woman (aka a gold digging groupie) or a non-Black woman (because you hate Black women.) They really can't win. And seriously - why would any woman want to date Ocho Cinco?