Nicole Marchand is celebrating another birthday. A 31-year-old black woman, she's already a prosecuting attorney in Atlanta and running for state court judge.
Personable yet direct, Marchand isn't the kind of woman you find standing by passively on the sidelines of life. But you would find her, for example, at the Georgia Dome, cheering on the Atlanta Falcons pro football team.
You've heard of a man's man. Marchand is the quintessential man's woman: She appears to have it all. And, yet, she's still single.
She has plenty of company. Forty-two percent of U.S. black women have never been married, double the number of white women who've never tied the knot
"I look forward to the day," Marchand said. "I look forward to being married."
It's just not that easy. For starters, there are 1.8 million more black women than black men. So even if every black man in America married a black woman today, one out of 12 black women still wouldn't make it down the aisle if they hoped to marry a black man.
Let's take 100 black men. By the time you eliminate those without a high school diploma (21 percent), the unemployed (17 percent) and those ages 25-34 who are incarcerated (8 percent), you have only half of black men, 54 percent, whom many black women find acceptable.
As a prosecutor, Marchand sees this problem firsthand every day.
"It is sad to see that the majority of the defendants that we prosecute are black males," Marchand said. "Those numbers can be very disappointing."
"Nightline" broached the serious dilemma with comedian-turned-relationship-guru Steve Harvey, author of the book "Act Like a
Is Your Requirements Sheet Ridiculous?
"Admittedly, the selection of men is slim," Harvey said, but "there are still a lot of good men out there who are being overlooked. ... There are a lot of women, though, who are trying to match up their education level, who are trying to match up their corporate status to find somebody on the same level, and they are having trouble. That has nothing to do with manhood at all."
Harvey says black women don't have to settle but they may need to compromise.
"You are a corporate exec, does he have to be a corporate exec?" Harvey asked. "You make $150,000. He has to make $150,000 or above? If your requirement sheet is ridiculous, then you have to look at it."
What "Nightline" looked at were the large numbers of professional black women who have groomed themselves for success with B.A.s, M.D.s and J.D.s. Seventy percent of them are still without the more elusive title: M-R-S.
The tick-tock of the biological clock is a bit louder for many women, including several of Marchand's single friends who live in Atlanta.
Chato Waters is a 32-year-old high school counselor pursuing a doctorate degree in psychology. "I would be lying if I said I don't have fleeting thoughts of, 'OK, I am 32, my clock is ticking," Waters said. "We have a saying called the 'black girl curse.' A lot of our white friends are married by 25, happily married with kids by 27, and we're like, 'What's the deal with the BGs?' -- and that's black girls."
Jakene Ashford is a chemist for a pharmaceutical company. Now that she's 34, Ashford (who is 5-foot-9) has lowered the bar when it comes to height requirements.
"I don't have a certain criteria, like if you are not 6-foot-5. ... And I used to, but then as I got older I said, 'Maybe if you are 6-foot-3, 6-foot-2, 6-foot-1, maybe if we can see eye-to-eye."
At issue is whether Ashford needs to set aside certain standards in order to make it down the aisle.
"I kind of have certain standards that I hold myself to, and I don't think I should have to