Marriage is for White People

Despite the fact that the divorce rate is high, I still aspire to get married and have children someday. Thus it is sad when you hear that some African American children think that “marriage is for white people.” Granted this perception has to do with the increasing number of single (mostly female) family households in the black community, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t still aspire to having a two parent household. Particularly since studies show over and over again, that children are happier and more successful when they are in a loving two parent household.

Marriage is For White People
Washington Post, By Joy Jones
Sunday, March 26, 2006; Page B01
Among African Americans, the desire for marriage seems to have a different trajectory for women and men. My observation is that black women in their twenties and early thirties want to marry and commit at a time when black men their age are more likely to enjoy playing the field. As the woman realizes that a good marriage may not be as possible or sustainable as she would like, her focus turns to having a baby, or possibly improving her job status, perhaps by returning to school or investing more energy in her career.
As men mature, and begin to recognize the benefits of having a roost and roots (and to feel the consequences of their risky bachelor behavior), they are more willing to marry and settle down. By this time, however, many of their female peers are satisfied with the lives they have constructed and are less likely to settle for marriage to a man who doesn’t bring much to the table. Indeed, he may bring too much to the table: children and their mothers from previous relationships, limited earning power, and the fallout from years of drug use, poor health care, sexual promiscuity. In other words, for the circumspect black woman, marriage may not be a business deal that offers sufficient return on investment.
In the past, marriage was primarily just such a business deal. Among wealthy families, it solidified political alliances or expanded land holdings. For poorer people, it was a means of managing the farm or operating a household. Today, people have become economically self-sufficient as individuals, no longer requiring a spouse for survival. African American women have always had a high rate of labor-force participation. “Why should well-salaried women marry?” asked black feminist and author Alice Dunbar-Nelson as early as 1895. But now instead of access only to low-paying jobs, we can earn a breadwinner’s wage, which has changed what we want in a husband. “Women’s expectations have changed dramatically while men’s have not changed much at all,” said one well-paid working wife and mother. “Women now say, ‘Providing is not enough. I need more partnership.’ ”

Note: Link to Marriage is For White People article uncovered while at NegroPhile blog.

1 Comment
  1. This depresses me so much. I go back and forth about on view of marriage. I grew up in (for better or worse) a matriarchal family, not a “single parent” family, but one without a mother AND father as primary caregivers. I would like to have a family someday, but I have such a jaundiced view of marriage, I fear being alone in an unsucessful marriage far more than I fear being alone as a single woman… I don’t know what this means.

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