The Geek Shall Inherit The Earth

Friday, July 5, 2013


Black, Female, and Single: The Christmas Cake Diatribe

The term Christmas Cake comes from Japan. It's what they call women over the age of 25 who have yet to be married. We are called Christmas Cake because while everyone is clamoring for Christmas cake up until December 25th, then you can’t give it away. Though maybe people in the States don't use that term, there has certainly been no shortage of people in my life or in the media who seem to want to label my singliciosness as a crisis? If I have to watch one more show, read one more article, field one more unkind comment about being an unwed black woman in my 30s, I'm gonna lose it. So here I go. 

Dear Hater / well-intentioned family member,

Please stop telling me how I am supposed to feel. Contrary to popular belief I am not in crisis. Would I like to be in a loving, committed relationship, sure, but I am not bitter or angry that its not happening right now. I also don't feel afraid anymore because even if I never get married, my life will not be ruined.

Yup I have high standards. It's true. I didn't always have them and we saw how that worked out, so rather than repeating my mistakes, I am making a different choice. And for some reason my choice makes you uncomfortable. You call me a snob. You tell me I think too highly of myself. Often when I talk about what I want in a man, you respond like I’m looking for a unicorn. Why is that? In case you didn't get the memo, I am awesome. I am a loving, beautiful, spiritual, independent, successful black woman. I’ve got a cool career. I own my house. I contribute to my community. And in general I’m about my business and have my shit together. Of course I want a partner who is bringing the same to the relationship.  Why would I be looking for someone with less to offer? My life is not a Tyler Perry movie. While I’m sure there are many bus drivers with heart of gold, I won't be dating him unless he also has a plan, a compatible view of spirituality, a passion in life, some financial stability, and an interest in travel and good books.

If this makes me a snob, so be it. Call it what you want, but for the life of me I can't figure out what is so terrible about having standards? Yes, I am willing to date outside of my race, though I do love a black man (not gonna lie, men on the brown to black spectrum my preference), but whatever his race, any man stepping to me should be awesome too and be able to appreciate the life I have built for myself. I am single because I haven’t found what I am looking for and if I don’t, well then I guess I will just have to lead a successful, fulfilling life that doesn’t include marriage. Is that really the end of the world?

I think my grandma thinks it is, but she is also the same person who sent me an article about freezing my eggs when I turned 21. My parents are a little cooler about it. I know they both have baby fever and would love to have a grandkid or two, but they don’t sweat me about it too much. In fact just last week my mom sent me this article called Black, Female, and Single by Angela Stanley. At first I glance, I was irritated. I assumed, incorrectly that this would be another depressing diatribe about why there are no good men out there, but as I actually took the time to read it, I found a pleasant surprise.

I have been hearing that statistic for years that 70% of black women between the ages of 25-29 aren’t married. What I hadn’t heard is that 73% of black men in the same age category are also not married. Now of course that doesn’t mean they are all available and super high quality (the men or the women), but those numbers lend to a very different conversation than the one we’ve been engaged in. Moreover the census confirms that by the time we reach our 50s only 13% of black women have never been married….and this was the 2009 census before gay marriage became closer to legal everywhere. So I just thought I would share the news.

Maybe the numbers we’ve been seeing mean that we are being more selective…really thinking about what kinds of relationships we want to be in, rather than jumping on the first okay guy to come along. So by all means feel free to continue with your fear mongering hateraid, but miss me with the bitterness. 'Cause this Christmas Cake is still delicious...

Reagan Jackson is a writer, artist, YA fiction aficionado, afro-punk, international educator, and community organizer based in Seattle, WA. You can find her most Tuesdays at the Seattle Poetry Slam or maybe just being nerdy at her favorite bookstores. 


  1. And let the church say AMEN. As a single black woman in her 30s, I struggle with these feelings everyday. I use the word struggle in the sense that I battle with myself in owning my independence and single woman-hood and yearning to have a husband and family. Sometimes I wonder if it's society that pressures these feelings or if being a married mother is really what I want. I can't really picture myself with kids, and I don't have any of those "motherly instincts" that other women have that love and adore children. I don't know.... I'm all over the place on this issue, but I find it fascinating that there are sooooo many of us who are single. Its bittersweet. It feels empowering and and sad at the same time. Does that make sense?

  2. I cannot begin to tell you how much this applies to me, and how well you've stated how I feel/what I'm thinking! Glad to know I'm not alone! Thank you!!!