It’s a cold, snowy Sunday afternoon, and I’m all cozy and snuggled in bed in my pajamas. I’m semi-watching an episode of Being Mary Jane on BET. As always, I’m lost because although the series debuted in 2014, I’m late to the party, because I just started watching the show yesterday. Furthermore, Mary Jane frequently seems to have a completely different emotional response to situations than I would have. For example, yesterday, I watched an episode of Mary Jane giving unsolicited advice to the wife of the man with whom she had an affair. Mary Jane told the wife to get on her knees when giving her husband a blow job so she doesn’t hurt her neck. (Excuse me? Bish, whet? Where dey do dat at?)
Regardless of Mary Jane’s questionable life choices, I’m kinda getting into this show because A. I’m a big fan of Gabrielle Union who plays the titular character Mary Jane. B. Being Mary Jane is a girly, looking-for-marriage drama in which the lead female character makes a series of asinine relationship decisions in her quest for a wedding ring and a storybook heterosexual marriage. C. The set design is RIDICULOUSLY good, and like every gay-man-trapped-in-a-bisexual-woman’s-body, I love good set design. D. At times, I am petty, and every poor decision Mary Jane makes, makes me feel better about my poor relationship decision-making skills.
In this episode “Signing Off”, which is the Season 2 finale, Mary Jane moves up the career ladder into a primetime news anchor position at her satellite news network, SNC, and just as she settles into a relationship with Sheldon, she receives mind-blowing news about David. Now, I have no idea who Sheldon or David are yet, but what I just watched was the actor Creepy Eyes telling Mary Jane instead of marriage and babies, which is what Mary Jane wants, they can have a non-marriage relationship in which he buys a Kennedy-esque compound with his/her separate houses and she can get her mail at her house in the compound. Mary Jane has a meltdown, screams something about wanting to be part of Black power couple, puts on her butt-ugly, birth-control Uggs boots and goes home.
That got me thinking.
Was Mary Jane’s reaction reasonable? Are her expectations realistic? Why is she having so much trouble becoming part of a Black power couple? What is a Black power couple? And how does one become part of one?
Let’s begin with a definition. A Black power couple is a duo of Black adults in a romantic relationship (usually a heterosexual marriage). The individuals who comprise a Black power couple are attractive, wealthy, and successful in their respective careers. Black power couples in the United States are rare because of:
- the history of economic oppression of Black Americans, resulting in a racial wealth gap wherein the average the median white household income is 16 times that of the median black household income
- centuries of brainwashing about ideal Eurocentric beauty/the supremacy of whiteness resulting in the perceived devaluation of Black beauty and more interracial marriages
- fewer post-secondary educated Black men than Black women
- institutional racism such as the cradle-to-prison pipeline and the overrepresentation of Black men in the prison industrial complex resulting in fewer available Black men
Now let’s go back to my earlier question about whether Mary Jane and Black women like her who desire to be part of a Black power couple are being realistic. In short, I believe Mary Jane’s expectations are realistic but her methods need tweaking. Mary Jane Paul is a very attractive woman. In a patriarchal and capitalist society, women who desire to marry can realistically trade their youth and beauty for a man’s money. That’s the way of the world. It sucks. It isn’t fair. But it is what it is—for now. Now, while Mary Jane is no longer young, her sexual market value is increased by her good looks, education, wealth, good credit, confidence, and fame.
If Mary Jane were a real-life person, I would advise her instead of getting constantly surprised and disappointed by these damaged-beyond-repair Black men to open her horizons to interracial dating. She needs to accept that typically (but not always) when heterosexual Black men reach a higher economic level, they marry outside their race. So the odds of her finding a Black half to her power couple severely diminishes. Additionally, there seems to be spate of non-Black billionaires marrying Black women or as billionaire Ben Horowitz put it, “Black women are for grown ups.”
Or if she insists, like most Black heterosexual women do, on marrying a Black man, she should be more analytical in her approach. That is, she should tackle the project as dispassionately and professionally as she would any large project at work. She should vet and hire a company to help her find a man of substance. She should use her journalism skills to interview prospective husbands, and quickly (and without emotional tantrums) move on to the next one when the current one doesn’t pan out.
Of course this sort of methodical approach doesn’t make for good television.
(Image, from top left to right, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee, Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham, Eric Holder and Sharon Malone, Angela Bassett and Courtney B. Vance, Denzel and Pauletta Washington)