I haven't done many stories on The Lonely Black Woman Industrial Complex™ lately, mostly because much of the MSM's analysis on why sistas can't get hitched is repetitive and seems like a kneejerk reaction to there being a married black couple in the White House. It's not like the New York Times and Washington Post really cared much about the plight of single sistas before Michelle-O came on the scene, so why now? The explosion of stories on this cultural phenomenon in the past year was so blatant it lead to me coin the aforementioned phrase in bold.
Anyways, I woulda happily overlooked this story as well, but it was emailed to me only about 400 times this week alone. It's not a particularly new topic, but since it appeared in the Wall Street Journal and has somewhat of an economic angle, I figured why not discuss it. Plus, it's Friday. Sooooo....
Nearly 70% of black women are unmarried, and the racial gap in marriage spans the socioeconomic spectrum, from the urban poor to well-off suburban professionals. Three in 10 college-educated black women haven't married by age 40; their white peers are less than half as likely to have remained unwed.The story, written by a black college professor is rambling and somewhat incoherent, but the general premise is that since marriage is a good economic move and black women aren't getting married because there aren't enough brothas available, wouldn't black women (and by extension, the black community as a whole) be better off marrying white guys? It also asserts that instead of black women treating black men like a rare commodity, intentionally dating white guys would trigger a power shift that will have brothas come running back, engagement rings in tow.
What explains this marriage gap? As a black man, my interest in the issue is more than academic. I've looked at all the studies—the history, the social science, the government data—and I've spent a year traveling the country interviewing scores of professional black women. In exchange for my promise to conceal their identities (in part by using pseudonyms, as I've done here), they shared with me their most personal experiences and desires in relation to marriage and family.
I came away convinced of two facts: Black women confront the worst relationship market of any group because of economic and cultural forces that are not of their own making; and they have needlessly worsened their situation by limiting themselves to black men. I also arrived at a startling conclusion: Black women can best promote black marriage by opening themselves to relationships with men of other races.
Black women lead by far the most segregated intimate lives of any minority group in the U.S. They are less than half as likely as black men to wed across racial lines. Only about 1 in 20 black women are interracially married.
Part of the reason, again, is the market. Numerous studies of Internet dating confirm that black women are the partners least desired by non-black men.
What would happen if more black women opened themselves to the possibility of marrying non-black men?
To start, they might find themselves in better relationships. Some professional black women would no doubt discover that they are more compatible with a white, Asian or Latino coworker or college classmate than with the black guy they grew up with, who now works at the auto shop.
By opening themselves to relationships with men of other races, black women would also lessen the power disparity that depresses the African-American marriage rate. As more black women expanded their options, black women as a group would have more leverage with black men. Even black women who remained unwilling to love across the color line would benefit from other black women's willingness to do so.
It's hard to resist the paradoxical possibility that, if more black women married non-black men, then more black men and women might, in time, marry each other.
Or something like that. Again, it's Friday.
Just go read the WSJ story, and come back here to share your general thoughts.
Question: Would dating white guys put black women on a more even playing field, and thus help them regain some of the leverage lost with black men?