Is Marriage for White People?

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Your book almost exclusively focuses on the experiences of African Americans. Why should white people read it?

Sure, the book is rooted in the black community, but the themes — marriage, children, inter-marriage — resonate across group lines. Plus, there are many white people who have black friends or co-workers who see that their lives are different from their own, but aren’t sure how to talk about those differences. They see unmarried black women around them and wonder why they are single. These are topics that black women regularly speak of amongst themselves, but would never discuss in front white people.

With so much talk of unmarried women, fatherless children, economic insecurity, your book feels kind of grim. Where is the hope here for the women you claim to care about?

The hope here is that black women will be able to shape their own lives and not be victims of circumstance. That these women won’t be sidetracked by the lack of black men on one hand and white racism on the other. That they will open their eyes to possibilities they might not have previously considered — and this transcends to women of all races. This is a hopeful book, but not a relentlessly upbeat book because that would have not been true to reality.

What about the Obamas? We have an intact African American family in the White House. Are they a realistic model for the rest of the community?

Interestingly, Michelle Obama’s experience is emblematic of a lot of black women. When they married, she was already a lawyer while Barack was still a student. People speak of Michelle “taking a chance” on Barack and that their story is an example of what awaits when black women shed their elitism and marry a man not — or not yet — on their level. Of course, this is simply not true, particularly considering Barack Obama’s background and life history. The issue here isn’t Michelle, but Barack — he was the “wild card” in this marriage.

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