Before I begin this post, I need to dispel a few rumors. For one, there is no black women marriage crisis. That is a myth, mostly broadcast by news outlets looking to gain easy views, reads, and rehashed blog topics. However, black women do marry later – 75% will marry by age 35. Secondly, there is no interracial marriage crisis. According to two doctorates from Howard and Morehouse University, “Six percent of married black men who are high school dropouts have a white wife and 92% have black wives. Among black men with college degrees, 10% have a white wife and 85% have black wives.” When eight of 10 black men will marry a black women, it doesn’t seem like much of an epidemic. Lastly, no list is all-inclusive.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way.
Lack of appropriate role models.
This is not meant to disrespect single mothers. Honestly, having a bad father in the home is no better than having an absent father. No, this is about a lack of role models for young black men, regardless of their paternal relation or non-relation to the young man in particular. A number of black men don’t have enough appropriate role models to look up to, speak to, and/or imitate. They must figure out how to be men on their own, because they were never shown in practice what being a man entails when they were young and impressionable.
Result: Since a number of black men never observed the roles and responsibilities a man is supposed to play in a woman’s life as a husband/father – other than what they’ve seen on TV, movies, or heard in music – they marry later. Many black men have to figure out their place in a woman’s life through trial and error. Naturally, this ‘on the job training’ takes longer, and we are assuming they ever figure it out.
“The economy, stupid.” – James Carville
I’m not going to deliver a tirade about ‘The Man’ holding the black man down. I’m simply going to state a few universal facts. Fact: Unemployed people tend not to get married. Fact: In May 2012, the national unemploymentrate in the United States was 8.2 percent. For African American men it was 13.6 percent. For context, it was 13.6 percent in 2007, too.
Result: It’s hard to get married when you’re statistically and historically underemployed.
Black men don’t view black women as a team member.
Many men view women as another achievement once they’re successful. While we can unite as a people when we are called upon for a cause, on the day-to-day front black men and women have a very independent structure. To the best of my knowledge, we are the only culture that champions the ‘independent woman’ and ‘M.O.B.’ manifestos in song. I’m not saying this is good or bad. I am saying it wasn’t always this way. Many young black men and women view themselves as independent. In fact, to be seen as co-dependent is seen as a weakness not a strength. If we don’t see a need for each other, is it any wonder why we act like we don’t need each other?
Result: Many black men feel they need to be established before they can approach the woman they want or he won’t be “worthy” of her. Further, some women believe, as Kanye West so ingeniously put forth in song, “I aint sayin she a gold digger but she aint messin with no broke n….” Success takes time, especially when you’re determined to do it alone instead of as a team.
More black women are going to college than black men.
This one is twofold. First, there was a time in America where you could still make a decent income even without a college education. Presently, 60 percent of new jobs require a college degree – many employers require a degree for entry-level work simply because they can. In 2011, women of all races obtained college degrees faster than men. For African American women, this rate was almost 2 to 1. Secondly, a number of studies have shown college graduates, both men and women, prefer marrying college-educated partners.
Result: Unfortunately, in this case, perception is reality. Women have fewer college-educated men to “choose” from and men have fewer women willing to “settle” for them if they don’t attend college.
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