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Profile of Helena Andrews, author of a book about successful but lonely young black women
"For a lot of black women, especially young successful black women, we have a lot of boxes on our master plan list checked off," Andrews says. "We think happiness should come immediately after that. But that is not always the case."
Love is much too hard to find and when these women do, it may go all wrong because of issues that are too complicated for statistics, Andrews says. She is quick to say, "There are tons of black families who are healthy and good." Even so, black women are more likely than white women to grow up poor or otherwise struggling financially; to be fatherless and to experience a myriad of other societal and/or familial dysfunctions. Ironically, the "issues" can also include being a "strong" woman: the can-do, opinionated type many black women become after growing up in a matriarchal household, the type with whom some men still just can't deal.
"I have tons of friends who are extremely successful lawyers and lobbyists, staffers on the Hill. They are great at what they do. They are in their late 20s and early 30s," Andrews says, sipping Ethiopian coffee. Her dog, Miles, is sitting beneath the restaurant table, whining softly.
"But there is loneliness at their jobs, because most likely they are the only black person there and people treat them like they are the only black person there. They dress a certain way. They go out on the weekend. . . . And still they end up going home, and it's you and your damned dog."
Talking about a suitor
Andrews is presiding over a table at a chic restaurant, this one in downtown D.C., on a Saturday night. It is the kind of restaurant that is crowded not for the food but for the chance to see and be seen. Crowds are spilling out the door into the darkness of 14th Street. The once-desolate street is filled with beautiful people. Who knew this about Saturday night on 14th Street?
Andrews is speaking with two polished girlfriends, a lawyer and a political staffer, who didn't want to be named because of their jobs.
"I went on a date last night with Cornrows," Andrews says, using the nickname that her friends have given the man. "I got in his car and there was this strawberry smell fragrance. I had to roll the window down by hand. I assume it's paid for."
Cornrows, she says, seems nice, but that is the problem. "He can put together coherent sentences, but they are not in any way related to my life," she says. She laughs, but catches herself. She knows the man is trying hard. She also knows Cornrows doesn't stand a chance.
"I'm a mean woman. I don't date nice people. That's why I'll be alone for the rest of my life. I will always have to settle."
Staffer: "You need a man in your life. They come in handy for labor."
Andrews: "He offered to help me move. That was nice."
Lawyer: "He wasn't nice to offer. He just wants to get with you."