WHY DO BLACK WOMAN MAKE THE BEST PARTNERS

Angela Bassett and husband Courtney B. Vance

Angela Bassett and husband Courtney B. Vance

Black women just aren’t given the praise we deserve. We are spectacular, loving, funny, intelligent, beautiful and creative. As a Black woman, it’s just too easy to speak about how wonderful we are.

Black women function as the best partners while looking divine and defying the aging process.  At 49, Halle Berry has proven that she’s still got what it takes to turn heads. And at 58, Angela Bassett confirms the truth in the statement “Black don’t crack.” Bassett’s amazing portrayal of Tina Turner in the 1993 film What’s Love Got to Do With It remains imprinted on my mind. The film, which I watched as a teenager growing up in inner-city London, showed me Black women’s potential for greatness if given the chance to truly perform. And who doesn’t want to be with a woman who aspires to be great?

From Michelle Obama to Serena Williams, Black women make wearing multiple hats look easy. When one thinks of Michelle Obama, one wonders if there’s anything she can’t do: a lawyer, a Chicago city administrator, a mother, a public speaker, a fashion icon, an advocate for health and wellness, a wife to President Barack Obama, and the 44th first lady of the United States. Michelle Obama’s endless list of skills tells us that she is a multi-talented woman. With degrees from Harvard and Princeton, she’s clearly the complete package. Of course, intelligence is deeper than just being book smart. There is such a thing as bodily-kinesthetic intelligence — the kind of intelligence associated with a surgeon or a dancer — and Michelle Obama shows us that she has this too. A woman who can engage in an intellectual conversation and destroy the dance floor with her moves— what more does one want in a partner?

Serena Williams is quite possibly the greatest female tennis player of all time, as well as a savvy fashion icon. She has the confidence to challenge white conceptions of beauty — even when her body is attacked for being “muscular” or “manly.” Through hard work, Williams demonstrates success in a sport lodged in a white world, and maneuvers this world with grace. Williams’ complex set of character traits, which include determination, self-belief and resilience are some of the best qualities to have in a partner.

Historically, Black women have been at the forefront of progressive movements for social change. As an activist, I value the many women bravely resisting oppression and racism. And whether these women are interrupting politicians, taking to the streets, or reciting poetry, I salute them. Indeed, magnificent Black women co-founded the Black Lives Matter Movement. These women — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi — recognized the need for systemic change. Today, the Black Lives Matter Movement has a global reach.

Clearly, a woman who has the vision and drive to create a political movement is likely to be an inspirational partner in life.

And we all know that Black women can sing— I mean really sing. Some of my favorite singers have flawless voices: Shirley Brown, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin, Miriam Makeba, Angelique Kidjo, and Ella Fitzgerald — these women demonstrate the perfection embedded in musical intelligence, and many paved the way for global superstars like Beyoncé and Alicia Keys.

Naturally, there is something wonderful about having a partner who can serenade you to sleep every night.

And let’s not forget the women who occupy leading roles on television, like Kerry Washington and Viola Davis, as well the magicians behind the scenes like Shonda Rhimes and Ava DuVernay. Indeed, Black women’s creativity reaches across various domains including but not limited to: film, music, food, art, sport, technology and literature.

Many Black female writers have blown me away with their linguistic intelligence. While reading The Color Purple by Alice Walker, I forgot that the rest of the world existed. Other writers whose works I’ve enjoyed include: Toni Morrison, Jesmyn Ward and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I look forward to reading the work of Zambian writer, Namwali Serpell who decided to share her winnings from the Caine Prize for African writers with runners up. The generosity of Serpell, as seen in the actions of so many Black women, adds depth to our understanding of Black women as the best partners. Further, a creative partner is not only one who is sensitive and thoughtful, but one who endeavors to keep life interesting.

It’s important to recognize the women who smash the glass to become triumphant “firsts.” Back in June 2015, Misty Copeland became the first African-American principal dancer at the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. In 2006, Jennifer Hudson won an Academy Award for her debut performance in the film Dreamgirls, making her the youngest African-American (male or female) to win an Academy Award at 25.

In 1922, Bessie Coleman became the first African-American woman to earn a pilot’s license. And if we flip to the present day, we appreciate Esther Mbabazi who became Rwanda’s first female pilot in 2013 at the age of 24.

Similarly, Baroness Valerie Amos became the first Black woman to lead a U.K. university after being appointed to the role at SOAS (the School of African and Oriental Studies) earlier this year.

Many of the women mentioned here have experienced success because of the barriers broken down by women who came before them. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough space to recognize all of the women who personify just why Black women are the best partners.

I do feel I’ve brought to light a few droplets in a sea of perfection.

These women are important role models who can build the confidence of young Black women and girls. They are complex, unique individuals whose history and experiences have shaped them. Despite my mention of their beauty, their value runs deeper than aesthetics to a complex identity in which their race is an integrated component of who they are. Consequently, being Black is just one aspect of an elaborate identity and we must be careful not to assume that all Black women exhibit all of these traits— instead we should celebrate what each woman brings to the table.

With everything I’ve touched on here, it is abundantly clear why Black women are the best partners.

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