Why is CNN’s Piers Morgan obsessed with the marital status of famous black women? He spent an inordinate amount of time on his show Wednesday night questioning Whoopi Goldberg about her single status and even said he felt sorry for her. His sympathies and her three ex-husbands aside, I found this line of questioning presumptuous and infuriating, especially because he did the same thing to Oprah Winfrey and Condoleezza Rice . As Liza pointed out earlier this year, his patronizing assumptions have indeed ” become impossible to ignore .” And I don’t believe it’s an indication of his keen interviewing skills. (Interestingly, serial husband Donald Trump was also a guest on the show the same night and Morgan asked not one question about his three marriages. Instead, he asked The Donald about his presidential aspirations and fixation with President Obama’s birth certificate. )
It’s absurd that at time when “relationships” have many definitions and nontraditional variations, these accomplished black women, or any single woman of any color for that matter, should have to explain why they aren’t married. Whoopi, Oprah, and Condi were all good sports about the grilling and made clear that their single status is not the defining issue in their very successful lives. Still, I wish they turned the tables on Morgan and asked him why their marital status even mattered.
For the past two decades, much has been made over , and written about , the fact that so many professional and successful black women are single. Theories abound for the reasons why, some of them sound, some ridiculous . But the notion of a man, particularly a white man who is likely clueless about the very complicated factors that contribute to the low marriage rates of black women, asking black women to defend their personal choices or status-as if being unmarried is some major character flaw or personal failing-is just grating. I know this, as do many of my single black women friends, because we’re constantly questioned about this even though demographic trends now indicate there are more single people in the U.S. than married folks. Nonetheless many people still believe marriage is the norm and that not being married is somehow abnormal, although this sort of thinking is also thankfully changing .
Here are some excerpts from the transcript of the interview with Goldberg: (I’ve cut some sentences for space but have not altered the context.)
Right off the bat Morgan asks why her marriages didn’t last.
GOLDBERG: Well, I suppose that, you know, you have to actually be in love with the person that you marry. You have to really be committed to them. And I just – I don’t have that commitment. I’m committed to my family. You know. And so for that relationship has lasted, you know, the longest.
MORGAN: Do you think you were in love with all your husbands?
MORGAN: Any of them?
GOLDBERG: No, I don’t think so.
MORGAN: It’s an amazing thing to say, isn’t it?
GOLDBERG: But it’s the truth.
MORGAN: Why did you do it if you weren’t in love with them?
GOLDBERG: Because I wanted to feel normal. And it seemed to me that if I was married, I’d have a much more normal life. But clearly, that’s not the case. That’s not a good reason to get married. You have to actually want a life with someone. Through ups and downs. And I just discovered that wasn’t for me.
who has been married twice himself
, then asked how many times she had been in love. When she said only once, he asked if she wished she had married that person. No, she responded. He wants to know why.
GOLDBERG: … Because I actually like living on my own. I like being able to go up and down my stairs farting like a queen and not having to explain. I like being able to smoke all over my house and not have someone go – you know, I like my privacy. I like it.
MORGAN: Didn’t you like being in love?
GOLDBERG: I don’t know if I did. Because it’s – the hardest thing. If you – if you already have a family, being in love with someone is very difficult. Because you want them to know that you also love them, and you want your family to know that you love them, and it’s a very difficult choice to have to make.
Morgan then asks if the guy she loved knows he was the only man she ever loved. He does, Goldberg says.
“I feel quite sad for you,” Morgan says, later adding, “Don’t be mad, I just feel sad that this guy that you loved ended up with somebody else and it didn’t work out for you.”
Her response: “Well, but, you know, lots of other things did so I didn’t do too badly. Not too badly at all.”
While I disagree that being able to pass gas without worrying about offending your partner/husband beats sharing your life with someone you love, I enjoyed Whoopi’s answers her and her comfort with singledom. In the end she left me thinking: “You go, girl!”