Vicky Mabrey (co-host of Nightline Face-Off ): Hello, Atlanta, and welcome to the Nightline Face-Off. Tonight we are going to find out why a successful black woman can't find a man. That's a topic that we talk about amongst ourselves. The guys talk about it with their fellas and the ladies are talking about it at the beauty shops. So, we've heard the statistics report that by age 30 only 50% of black women have tied the knot; that black women outnumber black men in college 2:1; and that there are almost 2 million, exactly 1.8 million more black women than black men. So, we're asking, who's to blame? I am gonna start right now with Mr. Jimi Izrael. Why do you think that women cannot find the man of their dreams?
Jimi Izrael (author of The Denzel Principle): There's nothing wrong with having standards, right? But your standards have to be reasonable. And very often, some of these women, that are looking for men, you know, what they don't understand is sometimes you have to be the person that you're looking for. So, so, you're looking for somebody that you aren't. Then you're sad because you can't find the perfect man—well you're not a perfect woman! And the only thing that “The Denzel Principle” says is like: look, sometimes you have to be the person you're looking for. That's it, you know, that's it.
Vicky Mabrey: What is “The Denzel Principle”? What do you mean?
Jimi Izrael: Women are looking for men that don't exist. They're looking for this picture perfect 1)archetype, this ★Denzel Washington to come, pulling up to their house in a new Maybach-Benz with a trunkful of Godiva chocolates and a suitcase full of $100,000 bills. And it's not gonna happen, it's not gonna happen!
Vicky Mabrey: Sherri, is that what you're looking for?
Sherri Shepherd (co-host of ABC's The View, and author of Permission Slips): No, and none of my friends are looking for that. I didn't know Denzel had a Maybach, but...
Jacque Reid (star of VH1's hit show, Let's Talk about Pep): I didn't either.
Sherri Shepherd: No, I don't think that our standards are too high. We should be looking for what we are. For me, I'm going: Gosh, a man that loves God, a man that loves his family, a man that gets along with his mother, a man that can support me as I will support him, a man that can fix my 2)rotisserie 'cause it broke. Um, you know, a man, I mean, here I got a five-year-old little boy, so a man that could come in and add to my son's life, a man that doesn't mind seeing me take my 3)wig off and help me take the 4)cornrows out my hair. Is that too picky?
Jimi Izrael: Wait a minute.
Sherri Shepherd: I mean you say it's 5)TMI, but I mean I'm just…
Jacque Reid: But a man also, a man also who will, who respects women and actually likes women.
Vicky Mabrey: You wrote in The Denzel Principle that too many women try to turn a man into a cross between their girlfriend and a 6)lapdog.
Jimi Izrael: Right!
Vicky Mabrey: Is that, dose that sound like what Sherri's explaining?
Jimi Izrael: Well, yeah, I mean she's looking for some man to help her take out her weave, really? Seriously?
Sherri Shepherd: Because you know…Yeah, really. Seriously. You know, because that's the most intimate part of what I do. And I'm not gonna…
Jimi Izrael: Really?
Sherri Shepherd: Yeah, my girlfriends will help me. Yes, but if I am sitting at home with my man, maybe instead of, you know, playing the Xbox all day, I'll play with you sometimes, I'll play football with you, and you can help me take the cornrows out of my hair, I don't see anything wrong with that kind of partnership.
Jacque Reid: You should be able to be who you are in front of your partner. (Sherri Shepherd: For real!)Weave off, weave on; I mean you should be able to be real at home. You want that fantasy?
Sherri Shepherd: Oh, you don't want the real, you do want the 7)shallow?
Jimi Izrael: In my book, I just said me personally, it's nothing personal against you, Sherri, it's just, you know, me personally, I like a sister with natural, with a nice natural hairdo…
Sherri Shepherd: And you'll get it if you help me take the cornrows out.
Jimi Izrael: Wait a second, Sherri. Okay, men are visual creatures, men are really visual creatures, we're not that complex, so you want us to be able to switch channels from taking your weave out to being able to thinking of you as the hot woman we married, you know, really, you wanna us to switch that channel, is that reasonable?
Sherri Shepherd: You know what? You'll get that, and you also, I want somebody that I can share the real with. I want somebody that can know that yes, I will give you the 8)glamour; yes, you can get a little bit of the freak, but yes, you can get some of the real. And yes, when those days are, that there's no glamour you still will have a woman in your corner going, “Baby, I know they had put you down, but I am here, cornrows or a wig, I am here for you.”
Steve Harvey (relationship expert and author of Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man): If Sherri has the point of she wants a man who is…can deal with the real of her, if his principle is we're very 9)aesthetic people, we love the visual, there has to come an understanding. I can understand wanting the real, but in the reality of it, in your man's DNA, he's not built to take your cornrows out, nor does he want to. The fact that you want him to do it does not set aside the fact that that ain't in his DNA, you think his showing his love to you is doing everything you want. Maybe you don't know how to be in love. Could that be your problem? 'Cause in our DNA, nothing in our DNA has us taking out cornrows, please understand that. If you got a man in here that can cornrow your hair and take it out, that ain't your man!
Vicky Mabrey: Hill, you talk about the 95-5 rule. 95 percent of the women chasing that high-up 5 percent of the men. You find that true?
Hill Harper (star of CSI: New York and author of The Conversation): 95 percent of us, 95 percent of the women are trying to date 5 percent of the men. That's somewhat in keeping with his…what he calls “the Denzel Principle.” But 95 percent of the men are trying to date 5 percent of the women as well. So, but we use a different standard for what that 5 percent is. Men use a more aesthetic standard and folks will sit back and wonder why, “How come that guy he's 40 some, 50 some years old, he's trying to go after that 28-year-old.” That 5 percent in his mind, what that is, and then we look at his Denzel Principle the same thing. The flip side now and to talk about what Sherri was talking about, I wanna go back to her point. The…when I was doing research for the book and meeting and interviewing all these couples: folks had been married 70 years, folks that were 10)devoutly single, serial 11)monogamous, folks that'd been in and out divorce, etc. You know what you start to realize—this is what I started to realize, that's why the book's called the conversation—is that we as black men and black women aren't communicating. And the reason why there's so much misinformation, the reason why women have no clue what Steve just talked about, is because women spread misinformation amongst themselves, 'cause they're talking a great deal about it, but they're just talking with themselves, and to be fair, brothers do the same thing with each other. I'll give you an example. For instance, if you go out—and I just found this when doing the book—when a brother who's married, who's happily married, shows up to a group with other brothers, he doesn't just show up and say “Hey, my wife is so good. I'm so happy.” He's just quite about it, right? But a brother who's unhappily married he can't stop talking about it. And so what happens if you're a single brother like me? You're hearing so much from the unhappily married brothers. But what I found out when I did the book, more brothers that are married are happier than the brothers that aren't, so…but you wouldn't think that if you pull most single brothers, if you say: “What is it like to be a married man?” Oh man. I'm sure it's just like what my man said, “She's always on my back…”
Vicky Mabrey: Well, is it that because people are used to…men and women are so used to having an adversarial relationship?
Hill Harper: No, I think. I do not think it. I think it's because, like I said before, in many ways it's not clear that black men and black women are even friends anymore. And what I mean by that is that the first thing that comes out of folks' mouths cross-gender, we're talking about the other gender, is always the negative first. It's the blame game. It's the he-say-she-say—even Jacque just did it. She ran down the negatives first and then she said, “Oh, but there are some good black men out there.” Right? And it's almost a 12)subconscious, it almost happens subconsciously, and it happens everywhere. And brothers do the same thing. I mean, you can just listen to music and know that. You know, it's one of my favorite quotes I came across when I did the book. It's “The 13)feminine wants to be adored, the 14)masculine wants to be believed in.” And it's not all together clear to me that black men are adoring black women, and it's not always clear to me that black women are believing in black men.