Is Marriage for White People?

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So what are you suggesting, that black women start marrying white guys?

I’m not advocating for black women to marry white men, I’m simply saying it’s time for black women to stop “taking one” for the group. I’m encouraging black women to open themselves up to the possibilities of relationships with men who are not African American — to give less importance to race and more importance to class. This would be good for them, for their children and even benefit other black couples by helping to level the playing field.

With everyone from Psychology Today to on-line dating sites suggesting that non-black men are typically uninterested in black women, is this realistic? Will black women actually find a willing cohort of non-black men to marry?

Photo Credit: Natalie Glatzel

While there may be an entire set of cultural currents and messages that support these beliefs, this theory is fraught with misconception. Part of this has to do with black women themselves, who may assume non-black men are not interested in them, or only desire them for some perverse or “exotic” reason. Life experience may support these beliefs, but along the way black women miss out on the non-black men who are interested in them. I say that the cost of excluding non-black men can be quite substantial for these women.

At a time when marriage is becoming less popular among all ethnicities, why such a strong focus on wedded bliss?

I’m not necessarily speaking of a physical marriage license, but rather the importance of a stable committed relationship — and there is a serious decline of committed stable relationships in black America today. This has many undesirable outcomes not just for adults, but also for children who are the most vulnerable parties here. Seventy percent of black children today are born to non-married partners; most of these relationships do not last, which means most of these kids grow up with just one parent and this is not an optimal situation for child-rearing.

So where does this leave black men? Seems to me they’re getting all of the blame here.

This book isn’t about demonizing black men, but looking at the consequences of their failures. We are not necessarily exploring the reasons for these failures, but how they affect black families and black relationships. I certainly may not have given enough weight in the book to issues of racism and the criminal justice system or educational policies or employer discrimination, but these topics are for my next book.

Speaking about racism, there is a lot of talk in this book about race, but almost nothing about racism. Why the omission?

I consciously chose to sidestep issues of racism because they tend to be conversation-stoppers. Particularly when it comes to why — or why not — black women don’t date other races, people like to blame racism, identify the “racists,” and this is not helpful. My goal was to consider why people make the decisions they do. This is a deeply detailed and nuanced conversation, which is difficult to conduct when you center on the idea of racism.

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