By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, M.Ed.
“The greatest deed a black woman can do for her community is to marry a black man.”
Houston- Author Torri Stuckey presents interesting topics in his new book, HIS DOUGH, HER COOKIE: The Black Woman’s Guide to Love and Marriage in the Age of Independence. Just from reading the title, you may think that this is just another relationship book, but it’s not. Although it does give some dating and relationship best practices, the main topics in the book surround; restoring the institution of marriage in the black community, the reconciliation of the relationship between black men and women, the historical factors that have led to the breakdown of traditional black families, and the impact of the independent black woman on families.
There are good things that are occurring in the black communities, but there are also many things that are going wrong, which is the amount of people who are in poverty, kids growing up without fathers, the lack of trust, competition, and even issues that occur between black men and women. Stuckey expressed that, “in order to help turn the ship of what we have seen with some of the problems in the black community, is to restore strong Black families and restore the institution of marriage in the Black communities.” According to Stuckey, “72% of black children are being raised by single black mothers.” This is a huge issue as many kids are growing up without a father figure in their life. Stuckey knows this all too well as he was raised by a single mother in a tough neighborhood, and has seen firsthand what it is like to grow up fatherless. Stuckey’s father was around, but because he suffered from a drug addiction, he wasn’t around as much.
Stuckey believes that black communities can find success .One thing that he desires is social and financial freedom for black families. He believes that, “poverty is more than a social economic status; it’s a state of mind, and beyond the absence of money and other necessities, it’s this mindset that keeps a lot of people from rising above it.” One way to financial freedom in Stuckey’s eyes is to focus more on restoring black families because a mother and father together is what makes a family strong. According to him, “there is a huge wealth gap between Black and White families.” One reason this gap keeps widening is due to white families marrying at a higher rate than Black families because Blacks have more of the mindset of “every man for himself”. He expressed, “Men and women are kind of doing their own thing…and they may be doing well for themselves, but collectively as a community…we’re struggling.”
One thing that contributes to Blacks not getting married according to Stuckey is welfare. He made note of the expansion welfare through the Food Stamp Act of 1964, and Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965 and how it has disrupted “God’s natural family order, emasculating black fathers and placing supreme power in the hands of black mothers through fiscal fortification.” This contributes to Blacks not getting married because, “a lot of the programs… to get money required the father to not be in the home. It made mothers to have to make a choice. Do I rely on this guy whose work history and money has been inconsistent, or do I get married to the government who is going to give me a constant check?” When women received this financial freedom, it then led to the “independent woman”, and her ability to stand-alone, without a man. Furthermore, Stuckey touched on the issue of competition between the black male and women, and how they can compete financially and for power, which ultimately hurts black families as well.
So why did Stuckey write this book for women and not men? His response is because “they are not there.” This statement goes back to the statistic of “72% of black children are being raised by single black mothers.” This also contributes to how he views black women, since “the majority of women are the ones who are raising the families in the Black communities.” He sees black women as the gatekeepers and lynchpins of the black community and the success that community hinges on Black women rediscovering their value in the community and restoring the balance of power. Black women are the nucleus of the community, the one who bares children and bring the future in the world.
One of the reasons why some Black fathers are not present, is due to a lot of them ending up in the prison systems. According to Stuckey, “1 in 3 Black men are expected to go to prison.” Black men face a lot of discrimination in our country, and because some are growing up in fatherless homes, this forces a lot of young black men to try and figure out how to be a man on their own. If boys and young men are in the wrong environment, it can be dangerous. “Your mother can not teach you how to be a man. Guys will always find male influence. Sometimes that influence can be positive and sometimes it may be negative,” expressed Stuckey. To be a Black man in this society Stuckey made it known that it is tough. “You kind of have one of those darn if I do and darn if I don’t type of feelings.” Although Stuckey has done everything right as far as going to college and getting a career, he is still faced with the realities of being a Black man in America.
In addition, one interesting topic that Stuckey speaks about is how a woman’s power will always be between her legs. Not because the unsophisticated nature of a woman, but due to the unsophisticated nature of a man. No matter how much a woman makes, or what she is capable of doing, the power still lies in sexuality. “I think you can take the most distinguished, gentle, and most respected black man you can find, but at the end of the day, the root of him just wants to be loved and loved on,” Stuckey stated.
Furthermore, he noted that many intimate relationships are now being condensed to transactions. He expressed, “women desiring his dough and men lusting after her cookie– without either having a true understanding of the relationship between dough and cookie. Dough is to cookie what man is to woman. A cookie could not exist if not for the dough, and dough is not complete in its raw form. Biblically, woman would not exist if not for man and man is not complete without woman.”
Last but not least, Stuckey doesn’t want to generalize the Black woman and put them all into one category because he feels that Black women are so unique and so different. He talks about different unredeemable characteristics and qualities as if they were different women.
Her legal name is:
Ms. Independent (the corporate ladder climber); however, she has many aliases: Ms. First & and Fifteenth (the working class Ms. Independent), Ms. Transactional (the gold digger), Ms. Promiscuous (the hedonist), Ms. Socialized (the loyalist to a fault), Ms. Jackie-Come- Lately (the older party girl), Ms. Build-A- Man (the mothering nurturer), Ms. Bag Lady (the cynic), and Ms. I-Can- Do-Bad- All-By- Myself (the loner).
“The common denominator in all her code names is control, aiding in black America’s ongoing social power struggle. The desire to meddle in black women’s dating lives only extends to the degree in which it impacts the black community,” expressed Stuckey.
If you are looking for a great read that you can’t put down with every page offering an interesting perspective on a variety of topics, then this is the book for you! Torri Stuckey was born in Robin, IL, and is the youngest of three children. He graduated from Northwestern University in 2004. He is also the author of When the Music Stops: A Screenplay and Impoverished State of Mind: Thinking Outside da Block. He currently lives in the Houston area with his wife and children.
This book will be available for purchase on February 1st, 2017 for $19.95. Copies can be purchased on Amazon or through Barnes and Noble.
Facebook: Torri Stuckey