Clair Huxtable is the perfect professional black mom. Actually, Clair Huxtable transcends race: She's the perfect professional mom, period. She also transcends generations: While June Cleaver, Carol Brady, and Edith Bunker may lose potency over time, if you go back to the archives, you'll find Clair Huxtable still holds up strong. Every TV mom is still aspiring to be Clair. She simply covers all the bases: Effective lawyer. Attentive parent. Lightning-fast hoagie snatcher.
She raised the bar every Thursday night for years and years, and millions of black men went to bed dreaming they would someday run into their own Clair. Every black man under forty in America has used her as a guiding light in his quest for the perfect partner. When they go out on dates with black women, their eyes glaze over as they hallucinate three-cushion sofas and little Rudys and Theos walking around, being adorably bratty and dealing with very solvable life issues.
How to be a modern-day Clair:
- Date a professional: doctor, lawyer, politician. Income, insurance, and a job that projects dignity and respect are nonnegotiables for Clair.
- Be independently successful: You want a professional man, but no one ever saw Clair asking for money on The Cosby Show.
- Develop the ability to raise one eyebrow-it's the ultimate passive-aggressive tool. I'm pretty sure there are a couple episodes where Clair didn't speak a single line, she just raised the eyebrow for every purpose, be it warning the children or luring Cliff into the bedroom.
- Dress in age-appropriate attire that is neither flashy nor cheap. Clair was sexy, but at the same time we never saw more than a few inches of flesh exposed. Try to keep up with that, Kim Kardashian!
- Health and fitness are part of the agenda but should not be overdone. Clair never bemoaned her weight, but we also never saw her coming from the gym.
How to find your Clair:
- Tour local graduate schools.
- Have a graduate degree yourself.
- Be comfortable with the fact that you will always be less put together than your woman. Be a fixer-upper.
- No drugs, no excessive drinking. Life itself is fun with Clair; there's no need to artificially enhance.
- A small potbelly is endearing.
Michelle Obama might be taking the baton as the quintessential symbol of the professional black woman/doting mother. Being the first lady and having the whole "actually existing" thing going for her will surely help her work her way into our collective hearts and minds. But she'll still need Barack to win a second term before she can approach the status of Clair Huxtable.
Patrice Evans aka The Assimilated Negro (TAN) is a staff writer for Bill Simmons' Grantland.com (check him him out on Saving Oprah, and The 9 Circles of Tracy Morgan). He's written for ESPN the Mag, N+1, Gawker, and a host of others. This excerpt is from his book, Negropedia, which was touted as one of "The Most Exciting New Books Coming Your Way This Fall" by Flavorwire, and is officially on sale October 4th, TODAY (order now!), at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other places you get books. Republished with permission. He blogs at The Assimilated Negro (about to go live with a redesign shortly, he says) and Tumbls. He is wielding the power that comes with being a #21 Media Bachelor with great responsibility. TAN is not yet on Twitter, but loves you anyways. He promises a special signed book for anyone who claims Jezebel as their spirit-mom. Won't you please save this African-American baby? Hollerrr at ya boy.