A friend told me recently that I am a “baby elder”. I am often asked to mentor young adults. I do not take this lightly and realize that the advice I provide can have far reaching implications. I am clear that my experiences are different and despite the wisdom that I may offer, the truth is many of the situations young people deal with have many unique variables. I have learned that as much as I have to offer, I also can still learn a lot. I’ve learned to listen a lot more and ask a lot of questions. Sometimes, it’s knowing that you are in another season. It’s also knowing that if my words are not laced with God’s wisdom, I could cause confusion.
Recently, Tyler Perry appeared on Crystal Hayslett’s “Keep It Positive, Sweetie” show. During the conversation, Perry and Hayslett discussed relationships. Some of his comments set the internet ablaze. Perry explained that Black women are making more money than Black men (which data proves this is inaccurate). “There are a lot of Black men who are successful, but for the most part, Black women are making the money.”
“Yep, she makes most of the money; all I can pay is the light bill,’ as long as she’s comfortable enough to say, ‘I’m going to cover the mortgage and all of the other stuff; you handle the light bill, baby. You can take me to dinner every now and then,’ that is fine.”
A lot of women were livid at his comments for a number of reasons. In my typical way of seeing things differently, this, too, was a situation that was odd was for me. I found it bizarre that despite his desire to help, Tyler Perry in that moment did not see his privilege or disconnection from the rest of the world. He failed to acknowledge how the variables in his life are so different than that of the audience he was addressing.
Tyler Perry’s relationship history has been mostly private (and it’s none of our business) which makes it challenging to understand his advice without more context. Tyler Perry has never been married. He and model/activist Gelila Bekele are the parents to his son. In December 2017, they welcomed their son. It was revealed in December 2020 that they were no longer together and the time he stated, “I’m 51, single and wondering what the next chapter in my life will look like.”
Tyler Perry is by no means a poor, struggling brother, either. Tyler Perry’s estimated net worth in 2023 is approximately $1.1 billion. I was disappointed that he was not encouraging Black men. Instead of believing that they were capable of building an empire as he’s done, it was as if there were no expectations for our brothers to excel and that they should settle to be taken care of. The Black men I know and have known wanted more for themselves and their families.
The issue isn’t about a man making less money, it’s a problem when anyone should be okay with a man who can only contribute in some households $200-300/month—especially if he’s not in school or trying to do something to better his life. In all honesty, he’s not ready to be in a relationship because the focus should be on how can he take care of himself before even committing to a relationship that would require the responsibility of taking care of others.
As Believers, there is a different requirement that we have for our households. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Timothy 5:8 KJV) The Bible tells us that if you can’t take care of your family, you are in essence a hypocrite—you do not believe what you profess.
There is a big responsibility in giving guidance. The wisdom we share must be rooted in God’s word. There is nothing wrong with offering wisdom and instruction to others but it’s important to examine if our advice is building others up or has the possibility of becoming a stumbling block of harm.
Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the President of Soulstice Consultancy and the Founder of the Reconciliation and Restoration Foundation. She is also the author of four books and the host of the Tapestry podcast.