A Blue Collar Brotha speaks (at last!)

You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

-Oliver Cromwell

I got wind of a very interesting article by way of a commenter on one of the blogs that I write for; the piece was entitled “The Worst Cities for College-Educated Women Trying to Find a Decent Date.” An informative read, the author, Mr. Jordan Weissmann, shows the data that in more than 100 major urban/metro areas of the United States, women with college degrees outnumber men on an average of upwards of 30% nationwide.

The article is perhaps even more profound for what it doesn’t say, than what it does – that a “decent date” is something only college-educated and degreed men can offer to women, and/or that only “decent dates” from such men are what counts. And, as the ensuing comments following the article were keen to point out, invariably these kinds of discussions turn to the “dating/mating/marrying down” variety – i.e., college-educated/white collar professional, and highly accomplished women, having to “slum it” with their “lesser” male counterparts.

While this kind of news is a bit of a shock to our White brothers and sisters, it is by no means anything new to us Brothas and Sistas – indeed, it has been the broken record soundtrack of many of our lives, at least mine. If I had a dollar for every time I’d seen, heard or read from or about Sistas being in the unenviable position of having it all except an “equal” who was “on their level” I’d never again have to work anywhere. This kind of narrative – which does indeed have its basis in fact, I am fully aware and freely admit – has been extant for most of my post-highschool life.

Now, to be sure, and to be fair, we have to enter a few things into the official record: one, as noted above, yes, there are more college-educated, professional and higher earning Sistas, than there are Brothas, in absolute numbers. Two, not all Sistas feel that they are slumming it or dating/mating/marrying down when paired off with a Blue Collar Brotha. And three, as many Sistas rightly assert, not all Blue Collar Brothas are the salt of the proverbial earth – many do indeed have problems, ranging from Baby Mama Drama, to drug, alcohol, mental and emotional problems, to anger management issues, poor money managing skills, you name it.

But, the problem that I have with these kinds of “the sky is falling” discussions, such as the recent one in the Atlantic and that which occurs all the time in Black America, is the glaring assumptions that are made about Blue Collar Guys in such a broadstroke manner, and the fact that for all the handwringing and alarmist chatter, no one has actually deigned to talk to Blue Collar Guys themselves, and to hear, in their own voices, what, if anything, they have to say about the matter. Please, don’t take my word for it – do up a Google search or two yourself. That’s what I did for the better part of my Labor Day last year, and after hours of searching turned up… nothing. Part of the reason Why I Write, is to be one of those voices, that never make The Root or The Grio or Madame Noire; that never makes it to the umpteen panels where these kinds of topics are discussed; or, God forbid, such august forums and venues like The Atlantic.

Simply put, Blue Collar Guys like me, have been and continue to be talked about but never talked to; we’re stereotyped and objectified, seen as the oh-so-awesome You Go Grrl’s “Plan D,” often their last stop on the way to Verified Spinstahood. And for other Sistas, those who are coming out of failed marriages, often with kids (and a goodly bit of weight) in tow, we’re the guys “they should have met” lo those many years ago. Again, please don’t get me wrong here – many people find each other and indeed, love, after a bad marriage ends. Just as many do so, with children involved from previous unions. And I would never presume to tell another man what he should or should not do in such circumstances; it has long my my stance that it is for every man to decide for himself what his life will be, romantic or otherwise.

It’s just the way that this whole “Brave New World” type of discussion is conducted, not just in both the White and Black media but as well in real life conversations and the like, well, it just rubs me the wrong way. As noted above, we Blue Collar Guys are not seen as people; just cardboard caricatures, props to be inserted and moved about into the varying discussions and narratives, stereotypes to be bandied about, and little more, that deeply irks me. It’s as if we don’t have anything to say worth listening to, no romantic aspirations or thoughts of our own…no interesting lives led to be mentioned. A lot of college-educated women assume that if you’re a Blue Collar Brotha, you can’t string together four or five words into a simple sentence – or that you don’t know the difference between chardonay and merlot; or that you don’t know what a book or library card looks like. From my own personal experience, and by no means something I set out to prove for myself, I’ve found that often, I’ve read more and more widely, than quite a few formally educated ladies I’ve come across – but since when did the facts ever get in the way of stereotypes, hmm?

Then there’s the following well worn trope: “I’ll date a Blue Colla Brotha if he owns his own business” – yea – like girlfriend in question is the next Oprah, or something. Look, in truth, just like most people – including Sistas – work for somebody else for a living, most Blue Collar Brothas work for someone else for a living, and there’s nothing in the least bit wrong with that. The vast majority of Educated Sistas, at best, work in middle management positions – they are hardly the HNICs of their organizations, more often than not – so why the demand that a Blue Colla Brotha must own the company he works for or something? Are you kidding me?

The insults and slights, just build up bit by bit. It’s one thing to have a preference (and for the record, fellas reading along: please do not ever attempt to “convince” a woman to go out with you) – but it’s something else to evince bigotry onto others, to profile them, to enervate them, simply because they’re not to your liking.

Yes, you read that right – I did indeed use the words “bigotry” and “profiling” – because that’s exactly what so many college-educated, professional (in this case Black, but by no means are they alone) women, do, to Blue Collar Guys like myself. Heck, and I say this with an ironic chuckle: I’ve probably been the recipient of more bigotry and profiling from Black folk, in this case Black Women along these lines, than I ever have from among Whites – and that’s saying a lot, given that I’ve had guns drawn on me by more than a half a dozen White cops for merely trying to get something to eat at a Chinese takeout, or been hassled by White cops for walking home from work through a White suburban neighborhood in Dickies work “blues” and Timberland boots. With “friends” like these, who needs Adam-12?

The hits just keep coming, when all of those articles and discussions attempt to make the case that Blue Collar Guys aren’t all bad; “why not give them a chance?” many of these “voices” say. But again, not a single Blue Collar Brotha to be heard among the chorus asking the question.

Well, allow me: who said that we were clamoring for you dusky princesses to “give us a chance” in the first place? By all accounts, Brothas, Blue Collar and otherwise, have left the building a long time ago. I’ve written about how so many Brothas, Blue Collar and otherwise, have been quietly voting with their feet for quite some time now; Sistas of a Certain Cohort have made it all too-clear as to which Brothas are to step up front, and which who needn’t apply – and the Brothas have listened to you.

Hence the anywhere from 3-6 to 1 Sista to Brotha ratio at various “meet market” events, designed to ostensibly bring the two together; many Brothas rightly reason that there is precious little to be gained in turning out for such gatherings, only to run headlong into Sistas who turn their noses up as if a stink bomb had just gone off – and only when all other options have been exhausted for these ladies. when they’ve been pumped and dumped by the guys of their dreams, could never get his attention at all, or have come out of bad marriages and the like just the same, do they ostensibly turn to me and mine to save them from relationship oblivion. But even then, only if we’re showing the proper amount of reverence and awe in their sight, dontcha know.

The idea that somehow you are doing us a favor by gracing us with your presence isn’t exactly what we’d consider all that exciting or romantic. I’ve personally either witnessed, or experienced, those Sistas (again, NOT “all”) who act as if they’re doing you some grand gesture, by “giving you a chance” – the same Sistas who make up the client rolls of “relationship experts,” and keep the same kinds of book on the New York Times’ bestseller’s lists, bemoaning where “all the good Men have gone”; am I the only one who sees the Great Irony here?

I for one will pass on that kind of Noblese Oblige, thank you very much.

Again, I’m not going to sit here and act as though fellas from the Blue Collar ranks can do no wrong – quite the opposite in fact. I’m just saying that, like anything or anyone else when it comes to these kinds of things, traits and qualities run on a distribution spectrum; or to put it another trite way, there’s good and bad in everyone. For every Blue Colla Brotha you can find me who has umpteen kids by as many Baby Mamas, squanders his paycheck on booze and weed or has trouble distinguishing between his work blues and a blue fedora, I can find you just as many self-absorbed to the point of needing/utilizing navel gazing therapy for years, overly-entitled, squanders their own paycheck on mimosas, Jimmy Choos and lavish vacations, seriously personality-challenged Educated/Professional Sistas who are just stompdown convinced that their stuff don’t stink.

After all, it wasn’t the Blue Collar Brigade that ran this country into the ground economically over the past half-decade, so we can dismiss the notion that fiscal mismanagement (among a great many human frailties and foibles) is the sole preserve of the Dickies Crowd. One would think that for all their education and degrees, these ladies and others who think like that would get the fact that having such things, stand alone, do not a great mate – or even date – make.

There will be those who will read this, and will attempt to dismiss it as the rantings of a (Blue Collar) Brotha choking on sour grapes – and they couldn’t be more wrong. Not that it’s any of their damn business anyway, but for the record I’ve been both on the receiving end of some of the most Nuclear Rejections since Fukishima on the part of the kinds of ladies The Atlantic and Essence speak of; and, on the flipside, I’ve had the good fortune to have met some ladies – most of whom were quite highly educated professionals themselves – who didn’t see my Blue Collar background as a leprous condition to be avoided at best, tolerated at worst. Rather, this is just one data point among many that made up who and what I am; a data point that, for all of us, is increasingly diminishing in real value anyway, as more and more jobs are outsourced or otherwise transformed in our globalized age.

But as the country continues to divide itself along these lines – where more and more Women gain degrees and more and more Men do not – I think it was time someone’s voice like mine was added to the mix.

Actually, I think it’s long overdue.

Editorial note: this article originally appeared at Just Four Guys on Sep 4, 2013.


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