Why is CNN Still So Concerned With Black Women’s Dating Lives?

This time, the culprit is the black church.

By Naima Ramos-Chapman Aug 17, 2010

Update @ 4:40 p.m.: San Francisco Examiner advice columnist Deborrah Cooper, who’s online column spurred the CNN segment, chimed in to the discussion over on ColorLines Facebook page with this rejoinder:

[T]he original piece was NOT written by anyone White or in the media, it was written by ME. The purpose was not to divide anyone but to get Black women to wake up and smell the stink of manipulative games and pimpery in the pulpit. The culprit is very much the Black church and the information being jammed down women’s throats of being patient, on their knees, of service to some pastor/minister and his church while she is simultaneously told to "stay hidden" and that "God will bring you your husband" and "he must be equally yoked" or some such nonsense.

Bottom line, millions of Black women that want very much to be married go home year after year alone.

If you don’t want to be married, this is not of concern to you. Likewise if you are married, this is not an issue for you to concern yourself with. However, if you are a single Black woman in a church with 2% males and most of them gay or in a 12 step program, you need to read the article and open your mind.

The Black Church: How Black Churches Keep African American Women Single and Lonely


CNN recently re-entered the discussion on black women’s dating lives. This time the story’s focused on what role, if any, the black church plays in why so many black women remain single. And this time black mothers aren’t to blame.

The article suggests that church-going black women translate the bible too literally and, in turn, maintain a devotion to "alpha male" figures like church pastors, which leaves them with much smaller dating pools to choose from.

Sounds ridiculous, right? But there’s more.

CNN traces the hatched theory to Deborrah Cooper, an advice columnist for the San Francisco Examiner. Liane Membis reports:

Cooper, a writer for the San Francisco Examiner, recently made claims on her blog SurvivingDating.com that predominantly black protestant churches, such as African Methodists, Pentecostal, and certain denominations of Evangelical and Baptist churches are the main reason black women are single. Cooper, who is black and says she is not strictly religious, argues that rigid beliefs constructed by the black church are blinding black women in their search for love.


The traditional structure and dynamics of black churches, mostly led by black men, convey submissive attitudes to women, Cooper says, encouraging them to be patient — instead of getting up and going after what they want.

Latoya Peterson at Racialicious isn’t having it. She blasts the CNN piece for its incendiary headline, and for its accompanying video, she explains her detest:

I hate: The headline. Nothing raises my blood pressure faster than asking stupid questions like "Does the black church keep black women single?" We can’t buy quality national news coverage for so many critical stories, and now I know why – everyone has given up reporting on current events so we can keep flogging the single black women story.

I hate: The video. It opens with "The thing that is keeping black women single is black women! They don’t know themselves, they don’t know what they want, they are desperate…there are tons of issues, nothing to do with the church. Nothing."


I hate: This fake me out "oh noes patriarchy, but wait, evolutionary biology means women submit and men rebel" circular nonsense.

Read Latoya Peterson’s full take-down here.

CNN is certainly guilty of echoing the tired, Tyler Perry-esque refrain of looking directly to the black church to explain black women’s dating lives. But even within that context, the article never seems to answer its own question. If anything, it turns the question in on itself: the church makes black women’s standards "too high", yet at the same time the church is teaching them to be subservient to men.

So we’ll throw it back out to our readers. Isn’t it time we just left this story alone?