Pastor Jomo K. Johnson’s “Call Tyrone”: Not-so Helpful Dating Advice From the Black Pulpit?

The recent resurfacing of self-proclaimed experts examining Black women’s bodies and dating habits is becoming the latest retro-comeback, similar to hi-top fades and snap-backs (yes, both very much back in style). In fact, the newest way to police Black women’s sexual habits and practices is to provide advice on dating and courtship in general. It comes as no surprise that the postulated rules of courtship targeting Black women are coming from Black men. And oh, while I tried my very hardest to avoid the entire “Think Like a Man” hogwash since its wake, I can’t quite seem to filter out any of it — nor have I been able to keep away from its ripples: more and more pop-up experts throwing out different theories in saving Black women who are all apparently on a quest for love. (Insert eye-roll here)

In all my efforts to ignore the Steve Harvey and Michael Baisden nonsense, I was recently directed to the recent advice of a (yes, male) Pastor Jomo K. Johnson’s upcoming book “Call Tyrone: Why Black Women Should Remain Single Or…”:

Pastor Johnson is looking yo dispel the longheld idea that the Black church apparently keeps Black women single whilst encouraging them with bad dating advice. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, Black folks are more religious than the rest of the US population. Additionally, women are more likely to be more religious while men are more likely to be expressly non-religious.

On its face, “Call Tyrone” is a call for women to embrace being single since, according to Johnson, the Bible condones being single. Even according to the website, the book seeks to offer an alternative to women unable to find a suitable mate of the same race within the church — which is problematic in my mind because of queer erasure and the unspoken cultural mandate that Black women should only date within the community. Pastor Johnson says in an interview, “I know that African-American women make up such a large number of the African-American church, and they’re not finding how to hold relationships, how to hold husbands.”

Admittedly, I’ve not read the book (and will likely not read it); however, quotes like that make the Pastors purported advice and support seem as though he is urging Black women to remain single because we are the problem. Even as confusing is the idea that the Bible speaks fondly of being single; but in another quote, Pastor Johnson says that Jesus, too, was single and was able to embrace such a life in order to serve others. And while the book’s conclusion is supposed to serve as some sort of “wake-up call” to Black (Christian, heterosexual) men in America who are not handling their business, it is heavily marketed toward the single Black (heterosexual and assumed desperate) woman in the church.

Another thing I found interesting in my research of the book are the titles of the chapters, which are posted proudly on the book’s promo website. They are:

Introduction – Poem of Apology
1. Dear Mama

2. Potent Impotence: The Castration of the Black Man

3. The Traditional Broken Home

4. Designing Women: The Rise of the Professional Independent Sister

5. Exodus Into Egypt: Probation, Parole, or Prison

6. Self Lynching: What Commercial Rap is Doing to Our Children

7. Mandingo – The Appeal of the Successful Black Man to White Women

8. A Woman’s Worth – Understanding Self Value

9. A Call To Singleness

10. Asalam Alaykum? Marrying A Muslim Man

11. Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Interracial Relationships in the 21st Century

12. A New Frontier: Missionary Relationships

13. A Change Gonna Come: A Revival of the Black Man

I’m not really sure about you all, but I can almost predict the content of each chapter in this book. They are things that have been spoken in the Black Christian community for ages, and it is no surprise to me that the old school (wrong) teachings of our foremorthers and forefathers would be used as positive advice. More problems with this obviously fall in my understanding of the Bible as a former member of the religious group. While Jesus may have been single (or maybe not, in the name of Mary Magdalene), the book seems to be clear about the place of a woman: her worth may be determined in bearing children, and her direction comes from a man as head of the household. Even more than that, because I know that many people will say that the book is written in parables and far too complex for my wee unbelieving mind, the attitudes of (some, not all) church-goers develop a certain attitude about women, especially older and unwed ones, at a certain point. And so, Black women stay losing.

Additionally, what is with all the outside “experts” rushing in to push all of these stomach turning, problematic remedies on Black women for..whatever they find to be our problem? Does Pastor Jomo seem to be doing something innovative, or playing the same old song in a different key? I’m not any more interested in a male-preacher’s advice to call Tyrone and stay single than I am thinking like a man and acting as Steve Harvey defines a woman. (Note: I hear that this entails instituting a 90-day-rule for sex. Puh.)