Have you seen this cartoon? It’s been making the rounds on social media, at least among my uber-educated, well-connected circles, and surely yours as well. I ignored it the first time I saw it, rolled my eyes the second, and when a “friend” who I respect and thought knew better added it to her status update and declared herself a “’70s lady,” I finally decided to address it.

Um…. What it implies is bull$#@!. Earlier this year, I was on a 17-hour flight back from South Africa and killed time watching Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” which won Best Original Screenplay at the 2012 Academy Awards. Loosely, it’s about a guy (Owen Wilson) who idolizes the past and (whoops! ) stumbles back in time to a period he thinks is superior. There, he meets this woman from that prior time who has also stumbled back to the era before her own and thinks that it is even better. It’s a cycle. By the end of the film, Wilson’s character realizes that there’s no time like the present, and he might as well make the most of the time he has.

That is the same point I’d like to make here. No disrespect to my mother’s heyday, or for some of the ladies reading, your granny’s. I’m sure there were lovely women galore, and I don’t mean to denigrate anyone in any way. But to pretend that the women of one era were so far superior and the values of all black women now have gone to hell in a Louis Vuitton hand basket (because we’re all sooo materialistic) is crap. That’s it. Crap.

I will give it to black women of that era; they had better PR. They didn’t have many images, and when they finally got put on, they presented their best — at first. The Seventies gave us the debut of Essence, the first widely distributed publication for black women, and “For Colored Girls …,” which was brilliance personified. But it also gave us free love (i.e., promiscuity) and Blaxploitation flicks, which prominently featured black pimps and “hoes” and cocaine use as iconic. It wasn’t all gravy.

I’ll join the chorus to say we, black folk, got problems: Piss-poor graduation rates, the number of children born out of wedlock or even into committed relationships, and the number of people incarcerated are issues that need addressing — not just criticizing — by us, even if we weren’t the ones who got that trend rolling down hill. I admit that. But to make lace-front-wearing gold diggers who don’t know the difference between a pot and a pan the face of the current generation of black women isn’t just unfair; it’s also inaccurate. So is linking submission to men as a virtue and labeling “strong” and “independent” women as a vice. Please explain to me how it benefits black women or the black race as a whole to have women who are weak and dependent.

I’ll wait.

Black women are as varied, contradictory, and multi-faceted as any other race of ladies. But when those other women get portrayed as loose, gold-digging, and otherwise unsavory, it’s presented as one representation of the women their race embodies, not the part that represents the whole. Of course, there are the women among us who could do better, who should know better, or who weren’t taught better (or just didn’t listen). But there are a whole host of us, too, who were raised by those good ol’ days and duly praised women of the Seventies who embody their likeness, literally and figuratively, and still carry ourselves with the best of their values, morals, and common sense. The intersection of our race and gender shouldn’t inherently have us all portrayed as ratchet.

I know Katt Williams isn’t a philosopher, and his pimp-schtick, vulgarity, and “complicated” personal life don’t make him necessarily a go-to person to be quoted, but when he’s lucid he drops bombs. And one of them from his comedy act was about women who complain about all men not being worthwhile:  “If you 25 years old and still walking around talking about [men] ain’t sh#!, you need to get a handle on your [expletive] life and take some responsibility. What you mean to say is you need to figure out what it is about [you] that keep attracting ain’t [expletive]  n—s. That’s your own personal business.”

The same applies for men — and women, too – who see comparisons like the cartoon above in a friend’s Facebook status and click “like” to co-sign madness. If every black woman you currently encounter is a money-hungry, disagreeable, shameless mess and you just have to let everyone who follows you know, I have to ask what’s wrong with you that you keep attracting that type of woman into your personal space? All black women ain’t bad, but the bad ones who exist and you keep encountering or attracting one another? What they all have in common, actually, is you.

Demetria L. Lucas is the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. ABIB is available to download and now in paperback. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk.

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127 Comments

  1. @SMH

    ..or the eternally bitter male misogynist who would rather beat his wife than work with her. get a life jackass

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  2. Mademoiselle

    I’m sorry, but if this cartoon were to ever hold true, then I’d have to give the 70s women a bona fide side eye for raising the millenial women. You can’t tell me you were faithful, loved yourself, knew your history, submitted at home, took care of home, and knew your worth back then, and somehow the next generation just *turned out* to be self conscious, shallow, shameless women. The women on the right were raised by the women on the left, so it couldn’t have been all good with the 70s if they dropped the ball with making sure the next generation knew what they knew/know.

    Of course, the other side of the logic is that the cartoon depicts an apples/oranges comparison, and doesn’t stand up to criticism or even do a good job at drawing a point. I’d venture to say there has always been a little of both women living in all eras of time.

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    • DING DING DING! Somewhere between there and now doesn’t add up because along the way someone dropped the ball…my parents say it was my grandmothers’ generation, which trickled to theirs now ours, which I agree you can’t go from good to bad overnight this was a steady progression.

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  3. Wonderful article!I agree with bink’s idea— It is sad that a lot of people on their “half truths” and their perspective when in reality they need to open their scope.It is a good idea.

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  4. E.M.S.

    Glad you called this cartoon like it is: inaccurate to a severe degree. There’s quite a few things wrong here:

    1) Strength & independence are necessary for women because of how society treats us and views us. They are not negative traits.

    2) Just because you are not devout does not mean you cannot live life well and be moral. It is in fact possible to do so without religion.

    3) Women should not be submissive to any man. Relationships should be about give and take, there should be balance and equality.

    4) Being driven by success (not money) is a GOOD thing. You will not strive to be your best and make your life the best it can be if you’re not hungry for it.

    I find it very interesting that particular traits that women need for survival in the real world are considered negative. That goes to show society is still very backward when it comes to women. Especially black women.

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  5. msmonet

    Preach!

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