Please read, but if you don't feel like it, just listen to this and it's all you need to know

Let me start by saying, I know Essence is not made for black men, but the book is about black men and their relationship with black women. Therefore, every once in a while I take a glance at Essence, just to, you know, see what they think and say about my brothers and I. So when I saw this month's issue - a split cover between Tyler Perry and three shirtless NFL players: Braylon Edwards, Dhani Jones, and Khery Rhodes - I knew something about us was being said. Was this Essence's attempt at impersonating KING? I took a closer look and realized the men were all a guise for what Essence was really selling, and what they sell women every month: Hope.

Women, especially black women today, will listen to anybody dole out their thoughts on relationships - how to get one and how to keep one. It's not to say their desperate, but we all know the dire statistics of black women and marriage. It's not good news at all. Essence knows this, so they play on this sad state of current affairs in their latest issue by convincing women that within their pages, there are high-quality men out there who are just dying to meet them. Here's the tagline they use on the cover: "BLACK MEN WANT TO MEET YOU: WE FOUND 60 SINGLE DOCTORS, MINISTERS, ATHLETES, MILLIONAIRES, AND A PRINCE FOR YOU (e-mail them now, p.99)"

So this is what it has come to, huh? Essence has gone the way of a dog in heat in leiu of the sexy feline in waiting. These ladies need a man. Shit, they needed a man yesterday, and fuck writing a letter to the man of their desire, they're gonna email that ninja just as soon as their fingers can lead them to page 99.

But let me talk about how they portray us. The most disturbing thing about this issue is the unrealistic standards Essence puts on most black men in the wake of featuring the 60 they have chosen. The men featured in this issue only number in the dozens both in the magazine and in the real world. So I ask, what's wrong with my brother who works at FedEx, UPS, building maintenance, and building security. Had they included brothers of those pedigrees, we might have seen hundreds of more eligible bachelors. In Essence's defense, a handful have more common civilian jobs such as a police officer, grant manager, and educator, but most of the men featured are quite possibly the only man of their kind (For exmample, one of the men in the package is Brian McKnight. Like that ninja really needs help getting a woman).

Much like my group of friends - who are, engineers, preachers, bankers, doctors, lawyers, and educators - the men featured in the issue are a rare, rare breed. Most brothers, as I have stated before, work at UPS. To wit: In talking to a lawyer friend of mine yesterday, who is one, if not the only black female associate at her firm, I asked her when is the last time a brotha walked through the doors of her office with the purpose of landing one of the associate positions? Her answer was she hadn't seen one since she had been there, which is approximately two years. Then I asked her when's the last time a brother came through those doors to deliver a package. She said everyday.

So I ask, are men like my pop's, who spent his whole life pounding nails for a living, not good enough if they don't have their own TV show like Andrew Dan-Jumbo, the host of TLC's Take Home Handyman and one of the men featured in the issue? If one of the only criteria to be in this issue is a million-dollar net worth, would Frank Lucas count?

A blind man can see brothers like my friends and I are cut from a different cloth, which is why we really, honestly, never have to settle. But this isn't about my boys and I, this is about the truth being manipulated to satisfy a fantasy that is a long way from ever becoming a reality. We all know there are more black men in prison than in college, so why do black women treat them like voting rights and never give them a second chance when they're back out in the free world? Most of my brothers may not have a shiny professional resume, but can probably take good care of a woman if given the chance. Shit, to be honest, I see a lot of my brothers on the block who are in need of a woman's love, maybe then, they'll quit trying to talk to my woman when she's walking down the street.

The saddest thing is, numbers show black women are in need of love. Essence knows this, but if that love doesn't come a man with the type of resume a girl can brag to her girlfriends about, i.e. the ones featured in the August 2007 issue of Essence, don't even bother applying brothers.