The Denzel Principle: Why Black Women Can't Find Good Black Men

The Denzel Principle: Why Black Women Can't Find Good Black Men

by jimi izrael

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781429957106
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 02/16/2010
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

JIMI IZRAEL is an award-winning reporter and culture-critic from Shaker Heights, Ohio who currently moderates "The Barbershop" for National Public Radio's "Tell Me More with Michel Martin" and blogs "The Hardline" for the Washington Post's The

Jimi Izrael is an award-winning reporter and culture-critic from Shaker Heights, Ohio who currently moderates “The Barbershop” for National Public Radio’s “Tell Me More with Michel Martin” and blogs “The Hardline” for the Washington Post’s The He is the author of The Denzel Principle: Why Black Women Can't Find Good Black Men.

Read an Excerpt


The Denzel Principle

People talk shit, but numbers don't lie. According to smart white folks who know, two-thirds of all black marriages end in divorce, creating whole neighborhoods of single-parent families, usually headed by single mothers. This statistic really reflects less on black men and more on black women and their inability to make good choices. And it also precipitates the reason why many black women are looking for a man to be the father they never knew. They don't know him well or have never met him, yet expect their prospective mate to be everything the little girl in them imagines him to be. No man alive can measure up to those expectations. It's hard enough just being a stand-up cat in a world where nice guys finish last and assholes get all the pussy. But it doesn't really matter, because women will make a good brother go bad. Because when they meet a good man, they don't really know how to treat him.

See, a lot of sisters had no father growing up; they've spent their lives listening to their mothers argue with their fathers, talking down on that "no-good nigga," disrespecting anyone with a penis and simultaneously running boyfriends with expensive cars through her bedroom like she's a top barber giving half-price cuts. Consequently, years down the road, the daughter wonders why, after all the loud talking, acting out, and badmouthing, she can't keep a man in her unkempt house. Fuck it, she says. Her moms laid the groundwork for her daughter's life of unhappiness simply by being a bad role model. Common sense suggests you treat people how you want to be treated, but it's too easy for women to be like their mothers: angry and single.

Many of them have money of their own, but would rather use their pussy like a credit-card swiper to pay the bills. Not that they're gold diggers, but they are motivated by money. This may sound a lot like just choosing a mate with superior qualifications, but in practical terms, it's as if some women's affection and time can be bought. Most brothers can read that game from the curb, and they know how to play it on the cheap. They run the chick to the Waffle House, the motel, and leave her cab fare on the dresser. Then she's sitting there, talking about "that's cold." It's the man's fault he didn't hang out long enough for her to cash in. She turns to her girlfriends asking for advice, and they tell her to hold out for the gold-plated Mandingo pulling up in a Bentley with a trunk of Godiva chocolate to sweep her off on holiday to the Poconos. On her deathbed, she'll still be waiting.

Black women say they have trouble finding the right guy, but the truth is some of them manage to find a new one every night, and word gets around. Or they find great guys — legitimately good brothers with jobs, benefits, and all their own teeth — and stay happy for about fifteen minutes. Then they wear them out emotionally (rarely sexually), get bored, step out of the relationship, and throw the proverbial dice in hopes of an upgrade. This becomes routine, and they end up spending their golden years with 50 cats and 150 ceramic collectables, trying to lure the mailman inside with a plate of food.

Now, men get a lot of the blame for destroying the black family because conventional wisdom suggests they spend all their time beating up women, shooting dice late into the night, stealing watermelon from Ofay the Farmer and being generally useless and unmarriageable. And let's be honest: there are a lot of brothers out there fucking up, but not nearly as many as you think. Normally, those brothers wear their crazy on their sleeves. You can see — and oftentimes smell them — from the curb. Women tend to mask their crazy with lipstick, perfume, Apple Bottoms jeans, and such. Men aren't as smart as women about these kinds of things, and often don't know what they're getting into.

That said, the thing is I know brothers aren't responsible for the high divorce rate because we aren't that particular. Men are not complicated creatures and don't ask for much. All we want is a woman to work, cook, clean, and maybe give up a lil anal on our birthday. Sisters think they aren't asking for the world by just looking for a man to meet their minimum standards. But their minimum is either the bare minimum or over the top. I know, because I see it all the time: black women jumping from knucklehead to knucklehead, chump to chump, hoping to get it right next time by consistently choosing from the bottom. They are in the Internet chat rooms, wearing tight dresses to Big Butt Nite at Da Club, and outside penitentiary gates on parole day waiting to pounce on anything with a pulse.


There is a movement building on the Internet just for women who like to date incarcerated and fresh-out-the-joint-type brothers. Women meet these guys, trying to help the penal system rehabilitate them, hoping to rebuild a man from the ground up. Not that convicts aren't viable mates, but you can't meet anyone at the coffee house, so you start trolling the prisons for husband material? What the hairy hot fuck is that about? Oh. Probably just a hairy, hot fuck. Jesus Christ on a saltine, that's fucking stupid. But some women are so desperate for a man they can mold and control, it's come to that. Holy shit.

Then there is the other extreme: sisters going out in search of Mr. Moneybags, who is most often an asshole. They try to lure men with spoiled bait and complain about the quality of men they attract. You know you can tell who they are, because they want to know what kind of car you drive just after they tell you to buy them a drink. They have an agenda, and they wear it like fake Louis Vuitton: garish and proud. But this is a good thing for Brother Paid N. Full. Because he can afford to shamelessly keep a stable of hoodrats and wannabe chicken heads eager to be mistreated in exchange for a seafood dinner. And the women? Well, they are more than happy to stand in line.

Strange, that.

Black women's unrealistic standards are probably borne of bedtime stories about handsome, rich men on majestic horses rescuing damsels in distress. Girlfriends often tell similar apocryphal tales about the friend of a friend who nabbed a rich, hung sugar daddy who saved them from a life of dishpan hands and lower-middle-class drudgery. Through the influence of popular media and the misguided advice they give each other, sisters combine these images and presumptions to draw a composite of a perfect black man. No way he could exist, but far be it for something like common sense to stop the average woman from looking. Her friends meetmen who are so close — so close, girl! With just one fatal flaw, like he snores or doesn't get DIRECTV. But girl, she was so close! So as a tribe, they all just keep looking, telling themselves that accepting anything less than perfection would be "settling," because they've been convinced that the perfect man exists. This goes on until this perfect black man becomes like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster, with cults of nutjobs trading information, hunting tips, and fish stories about the one that got away, their lives committed to hunting and capturing a creature who could not possibly exist. But wait! — just like Sasquatch and Nessie, Mr. Right is on the cover of every magazine, the star of many movies, and the next guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show ... right?

Of course he is.

This delusion is called the Denzel Principle, or the Dizzle for short. The Dizzle causes black women's standards to be so high as to cause them to be disaffected, disappointed, or deceived. It's an affliction most commonly spread in beauty salons and hen sessions. Many of the infected women will likely only find the kind of love that needs batteries.

In the rapture of what could only be groupthink or mass hypnosis, black people seem particularly easy to seduce with fabricated role models and messianic figures. It probably started with slaves' indoctrination into Christianity and the story of the mortal son of God performing miraculous things while in human form: promising — and delivering — all things to true believers. Slave women probably turned to their men in disgust, wondering why they were not brave enough or holy enough to protect them from slave masters. They began envisioning a messianic black man who would stand against the white man and protect his women and children and uplift his race.

Men like Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. DuBois, and Marcus Garvey were wise men with strong ideas who were elevated to icon status merely by feeling free enough to speak up and be counted. In an age when the wrong look or intonation could get a black man killed, these men appeared nearly supernatural. They were either fortified by large constituents of influential blacks or cosigned by important whites: they were average men with above-average cachet. They became role models not just because they were iconoclasts intent on flouting the rules of conventional thinking. They were lauded largely because they set a nearly unattainable bar for their time. They had mastered the art of the "double consciousness," enabling them to navigate the worlds of whites and blacks without missing a step in either. Being loved and admired by all was an enviable talent.

Years later, with the advent of vaudeville and popular cinema, the minstrel and his various "coon" incarnations came into vogue. D. W. Griffith's silent film Birth of a Nation (adapted from Thomas Dixon's novel The Clansman and his play of the same title which glorified the exploits of the Ku Klux Klan) famously introduces the audience to Gus — a newly freed slave and evil black stud intent on raping and/or marrying white women — as well as a host of other black male criminal types. This is how most of America meets black men.

Birth of a Nation is one of the highest-grossing silent films of all time, but because its black male antagonist validated the worst fears of white audiences and typified the personification of evil and everything wrong about Reconstruction-era America, it was criticized in its time by blacks for stirring up hate and provoking white audiences to commit hate crimes (i.e. lynching). The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) protested the film, and the furor embarrassed the filmmakers. The NAACP would go on to discourage, but not eliminate, films and other media that blithely demonized black people.

Five common caricatures of black Americans emerged onscreen, having evolved from literature and radio plays:

• Uncle Tom (from Harriet Beecher Stowe's 1852 novel Uncle Tom's Cabin: male, loyal, hard-working, and deferential)

• Mammy (female, hard-working, sassy, and wise)

• The Mulatto (mostly female, tragic, and confused)

• The Coon (male, goofy, shiftless, and/or lazy)

• The Buck (male, brutish, and wanton)

The black buck (or brute) is the character that excites and titillates moviegoers and aside from Zip Coon the clown (Dewey "Pig-meat" Markham and Stepin Fetchit come to mind as Zip Coon–type comedic talents who rose to some prominence years later) is the character most often seen in early films like House-Rent Party, Walt Disney's Song of the South, and television shows like Amos 'n' Andy. Tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (who co-stars with white child star Shirley Temple in a number of films) is a good example of the singing, dancing, grinning comedic Zip Coon that became popular. But Buck was the coon loved and feared by Hollywood as the perfect villain who got to the root of pre-integrated America's fears about widespread crime and race-mixing.

The NAACP cast themselves as the arbiters of race, the keeper of the black image. They encouraged all black Americans to put the best face on the race, and Stepin Fetchit, "Pigmeat" Markham, and Bill "Bojangles" Robinson were not helping the cause. But asking any one person to carry all the baggage of his people and undo the prejudices of ignorant people is not a reasonable expectation. During this time is when we see the emergence of what some would call the paradigmatic negro façade: the deferential, well-appointed black man for all seasons who was just black enough, but not so you'd notice.

Enter actor Sidney Poitier. He fit the bill exactly.

He was neither shuck and jiver nor highfalutin: he was a black man who knew his place in America, and he chose parts that reflected it. Poitier's various turns as the dignified assimilated black man in films like A Patch of Blue and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner seemed to sate both audiences. Poitier became an icon by making it more socially acceptable for black men to be occasionally assertive (as bulldog detective Virgil Tibbs in In the Heat of the Night), but mostly deferential (Guess Who's ...), defeated (A Raisin in the Sun), docile (A Patch of Blue), and eager to help (To Sir, With Love). He was new, exotic ... and acceptable. In the face of America's hostile Jim Crow politics and general inequitable treatment of blacks, his affability trumped his blackness so much so that most of black America rejected him (reading him as an "Uncle Tom" in the midst of a social revolution), much to the bewilderment of whites: why can't black Americans be more like Sidney Poitier? His Bahamian patois mellifluously masked any hint of post-colonial bitterness or the Angry American Black Man–ism, with all his demands and aggressive resistance to assimilation. He didn't wear dark glasses under a poltical hairstyle. He became white America's best black friend, and the measure to which all other black men were compared. His evident employability and role as the Next Evolution in black Masculinity made women of all colors swoon. But there was no way any black man could afford to be that cool and apolitical in those times. Still, everyone wanted to know ... why can't you be more like Sidney?

Every few years, the public latches onto some poor brother who seems to exude all things warm, wise, and wonderful and he becomes the perceived model black man. These brothers are most often sports figures, ideologues, or micro-pundits. Athletes seem particularly ripe for canonization: Paul Robeson, Jack Johnson, and Muhammad Ali were at one time all portraits of black manhood. But they were dealt with similarly.

Paul Robeson was a renaissance man: an athlete and scholar with a brilliant bass voice and distinguished demeanor that endeared him to the mainstream. He was lauded as a great man and credit to his race. He walked, talked, and behaved like no other brother in his time, and white folks loved him. This was a black man they could trust. Of course, when he began voicing his political thoughts and raising consciousness about racial discrimination, he was vilified. He died an outcast.

Jack Johnson was the boxer whites loved to hate. His style and finesse in the ring made him a star: his swagger and refusal to play by anyone else's rules made him a pariah, even among black people. He embodied everything America loved and hated about black men: he was brutish and unrepentant, flaunting and stunting in his wealth and fame. He dated white women. He thumbed his nose at Booker T. Washington and the black leadership of his time, instead being man enough to be a man on his own terms. But it all came at a price, as he was harassed and eventually beaten down. His excesses were his downfall and America reveled in the demise of this once great black man who took his freedom and proudly thought for himself.

Muhammad Ali was also much a man like Johnson, daring to defy the government by refusing to be drafted and declaring himself "The Greatest." Famously called "The Mouth" by sportscaster Howard Cosell, he was well-respected but not well liked. But once his crusade became his undoing as the beatings he gave and the beatings he took disintegrated his mental capacity — and quieted his voice — then, he became a national treasure.

So, examining the lives of these three men, considered by some to be important black male role models, the take-home lesson seems to be that if you dare to step outside of conventional thinking, dare to exercise your freedom in a way that offends conservative sensibilities, you will be destroyed by one means or another. White America only cosigns docile, wounded black men for hero status. True iconoclasts must be quashed. Middle-class black Americans share this sentiment.

In post–civil rights America, it seems like everyone wanted black men to be Martin Luther King Jr. Not the womanizing, chain-smoking party boy he was in real life, but the nonviolent, well-spoken vessel for change. The messianic Martin is a legacy far too luminous to contend with. He is worshipped by whites and blacks as the second coming of Jesus himself. Blacks and whites alike quote his speeches and cast him as a superhero, never acknowledging the inherent unfairness of casting a dead man as a viable role model, and his "dream" as an attainable goal, only to fortify the folktale by commercializing it. Young black men for years (and some still today) grew up with pictures of Jesus and Martin in the living room on the mantel. The message being: Dad is obviously too human to be a role model, son. So strive to live up to the impossible. Again, white America cosigns a wounded leader. Later, they would annoint two others with the mantle of leadership.


Excerpted from "The Denzel Principle"
by .
Copyright © 2010 James Bernard Izrael.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments and Such,
The Denzel Principle,
Demonizing Black Machismo,
The Exhale Years,
She Hate Me,
The Case for and Against Marriage,
Her Peeps,
Baby-Mama Dreams,
Confessions of a Former Sellout,
Return of the Good Guy,
Living with the Dizzle,

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The Denzel Principle: Why Black Women Can't Find Good Black Men 1.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Kye More than 1 year ago
I would recommend using Mr. Izrael's book if you need to start a bonfire during a camping trip!!!!!! If you haven't purchased this book, be thankful, you can use that money on something much more useful!! As Mr. Izrael has exercised his freedom of speech, so will I hereforth. His book is hateful towards Black women and Black men, plays on common stereotypes, is filled with his contempt for the mothers of his children, and full of poor language and profanities!! Shame on The Washington Post for employing such a hate monger! What is the basis of Mr. Izrael's book, you ask? The answer is simple. The author is that bitter nerd you went to school with that never got the girls. Because he had no personality to speak of and walked around with his heart on his sleeve, he has demonized ALL Black women out of the pain of being rejected by so many of them!! So now, the so-called writer, has penned a book to exact his revenge against all those "angry" Black women that he has grown to despise. He even goes as far as to give an example of a Black woman he knows (which reads like pure fiction) who has an "MBA from Wharton" with "seven kids" by numerous men. Anybody who knows about Wharton as an educational institution, knows that if a woman is getting her MBA there, that the idea of having 7 babies by 7 different men is nothing short of entertainment (yeah sure, folks waste money and time on getting MBAs just to turn out as whores, golddiggers and "baby mamas"). It is clearly a lie that Mr. Izrael wishes to glorify as truth. For decades Black women have struggled against stereotypes of the 'ghettofied, neck-rolling, cursing, baby-making, loud, uneducated, emasculating, lonely, and sexually promiscuous "sistah' without a clue in life, and yet this is the exact sterotype Mr. Izrael promotes. And let's discuss how he talks about Black men as 'In jail, impregnating women senselessly, uneducated, drug dealing, pimps, etc.' - once again all stereotypes. Mr. Izrael might as well be wearing a white hood over his head and sprawling racist epitahs on the lawns of all the Black Americans he hates. Clearly, this man's book is about hatred, and the resentment he feels towards himself for not only, looking nothing like the stunning Denzel Washington, but also for not possessing the charisma and intelligence of the famed actor either!! It is the classic story of the nerd who despises the jock because the jock gets all the women, good and bad, while he's left at home to his own devices. He shames Black people, the literary community and the Publisher who had the nerve to print this garbage!! If I would have known this was a book about hate, I would have never spent over $20 for it. Mr. Izrael's so-called "tough love" approach is nothing more than a disguise for his own hatred of himself, and why he allowed the wrong black women to walk all over him and essentially push him towards the White woman he proudly shares his life with now. Why spread more racism, self-hatred and stereotypes - because he has books to sell. Controversy does sell books of course but this book is about revenge from a bitter, physically unappealing boy who obviously hasn't matured into full manhood. I stand so strongly against this book that I am preparing my own book in response. -Takesha Powell (Author - The African-American Writer's Guide to Successful Self-Publishing)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I admit, I picked up this book because the cover art & title alone caught my attention on a unexpected Tuesday evening in the bookstore. The book was prominently displayed to attract the readers view rounding the stack, so naturally, I was intrigued. The first 8 pages in I thought, okay, here is a book for women, by a man, that should help bridge that male/female "misunderstanding" that is complained about continually in dating & marriage situations. I was under the assumption the book would explore an in-depth analysis of favorite/key characters the actor has portrayed over the years in the movies and how women have idealized those characters and search for some imagined knight in shining armor character in real-life dating situations. Well, the author does touch on the character analysis somewhat, however, most of the book is an angry tirade from a bitter man over his very misguided and horrible view of women, dating, relationships, marriage, etc due to his anger over his parents divorce. The loss of his nuclear family due to divorce has deeply affected the author so much so, and he doesn't even realize that his fathers misogynistic ways before the end of the parents marriage weren't very healthy either. Couple that with the fact that the author has his own issues of self-esteem due to his looks, his masculinity, and even possibly his sexual orientation, I have to say that the author himself suffers from the " The Denzel Syndrome" - - that no matter what, he will never look as good as Denzel Washington, therefore he has already doomed himself to failure with women, particularly Black American ones, which he seems to have the most dismay and dissapointment with from having read his angry tirade. I absolutely got a HEADACHE reading this book and DO NOT recommend any women read it. Any man or woman who wants to give a POSITIVE view of relationships and POSITIVE life lessons for men and women, particularly Black Americans, by all means, write that book - - this book, "The Denzel Principle" does not meet that standard.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I borrowed this book from my local library. It was a WASTE of time.This book is nothing more than one man's narrow, bitter view of black women based on his own admittedly TWO FAILED marriages. He as NOTHING insightful to offer on relationships nor kind to say of women of his own race (whom Im sure his mother is one). He makes black men seem completely BLAMELESS for the failures in a black couple relationship and holds black women SOLELEY accountable for such failures. DONT WASTE YOUR TIME.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had to read this for my book club and thought it was going to be interesting. It was highly disappointing! The author is delusional and I see why he's had 2 failed marriages! Not worth the read!
BookWorm7CJ More than 1 year ago
Just like some of the previous reviews, I found this book to be in no way accurate or interesting. My only saving grace is that I got it from my local library thus keeping my $$$ in my pocket. The age-old adage of "don't just a book by its cover" holds true in this instance. I truly thought the contents would be insightful and provide some measure of wisdom. NOT!!!!! This guy is so off-base it's hilarious. His views of himself and what he thinks black women want (and comparing black women to white women and what he thinks white women accept) are failing to say the least. At the end, (and I must say that getting through this book was like having a part-time job---a real chore) all I could do was laugh at this poor creature.
ShastaD on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I kept wanting to put this book down, because the way this guy things is so irritating, but I didn't, because what he said was entertaining, and because I wanted to understand how people like him think. There are a lot of cuss words and derogatory phrases. I love to hate him. The book does tend to go on and on, like he added lists and stuff just to have more pages, so I skipped several parts.He says that the premise of the book is that there are good black men out there, and that black women are just too choosy. But he really doesn't try to prove that there are black men, but instead he tells his own story about how black women are so choosy. He has simple criteria, he wants a woman who has a job, cooks and cleans and otherwise services him. Simple, right? He, however, doesn't have a job, doesn't have any wheels, needs to be reminded to shower, has been irresponsible with birth control several times, is years delinquent in his child support payments, and thinks that doing what a woman asks is emasculating. It seems to me that basic requirements of adulthood is having a job, a way to get around, and personal hygiene. This goes for adults of all races. The other stuff - sense of humor, connection, romance, are on top of the basic requirements. Seriously, even though he doesn't prove how he is one of the good guys, it seems like he thinks he is one. I had to look on the book jacket to make sure it wasn't written by someone I knew!I'm surprised that anyone would want to publish him, and I guess the fact that he is published takes out the "doesn't have a job" of the equation, but not that much, since he would have to write the next book to keep the income coming in.Eventually he figures out that white women are not as choosy, and so he goes with them.This book appears to be targeted to women, although it doesn't provide any advice to them. I am surprised that an editor was willing to publish his rant, but it is entertaining, and does start a very important conversation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I gave three stars for motivating because this book should encourage every woman to stay away from damaged individuals like Jimi Izrael. If I could give negative stars I would. The book is poorly written and chronicles the dysfunctional dating patterns of a misogynist who is out of tune of reality. If you want to read the book out of curiosity, rent it from the library or return it after you've managed to get through his nonsense. Jimi Izrael attempted to capitalized on the "poor black women can't find a man" trend and failed terribly. Hopefully he can get some professional help and leave writing and social commentary to the people who are good at it.