Recently, ABC’s Nightline aired a segment on single successful African American women. The segment was titled Why Can’t Successful Black Women Find a Man? Nightline featured a panel of so called experts on the subject including comedians Steve Harvey and Sherrie Shepherd, actor Hill Harper, Jimi Izrael and Jacque Reid. The show presented a face off between the men and women panelists. Actor Hill Harper recognized the seriousness of the issue. He articulated that the issue was really about the breakdown of the black family. So where were the renowned relationship experts who could shed intelligent light on the subject? Where were the black Dr. Phil’s? Why weren’t they considered in doing the segment?
ABC’s Nightline bills itself as a late night news program. It is not a daytime talk show but one where people turn to see more news after the news. There are black PhD’s and psychologists who are qualified to speak on black relationship topics. The segment would have been balanced and note worthy if someone with the credentials of Dr. Audrey B. Chapman or Dr. Larry E. Davis appeared to shed some intelligent light on the topic. Dr. Chapman is a renowned relationship expert, therapist, author and speaker on relationship issues between black men and women. She has authored relationship books on black men and women and has a weekly talk show aired on WHUR- FM in Washington, DC where she offers professional relationship advice. Dr. Larry E. Young, professor at University of Pittsburg, with dual doctorate degrees in psychology and social work is a frequent lecturer and author on being black and single. Both Dr. Chapman and Dr. Davis have researched and studied the topic that was presented on Nightline.
Steve Harvey is funny as a comedian. But Harvey as an expert on love relationships is like Sara Palin as a foreign affairs expert because she can see Russia from her house. The media would not use Betty White as an expert in a news segment on aging. Nor would they use David Letterman as an expert commentator on extortion, although he knows something about the subject. Jay Leno loves cars but he has never been called upon to opine on cars as a commentator. That’s because the media wouldn’t even think of using a comedian or actor in those situations. But, if the story line is on black women, that’s another story.
So, what is attributable to the difference in how the media views commentators on black female topics? It goes beyond the Nighline segment on black women. It speaks to a lack of integrity when it comes to black topics. I urge ABC and other media outlets, their white and black producers to do a little homework when researching expert sources for topics relating to black women. We might all learn something in the process. A little professionalism goes a long way.