African American Stanford Law professor Ralph Richard Banks’ new book “Is Marriage For White People: How The African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone” is causing quite a bit of controversy by taking a look at marriage and race over the last 10 years and how black women may need to start marrying outside their race. Check out a snippet Banks’ interview for Time magazine:
There are plenty of black men out there, so what’s keeping these women single?
Part of the answer lies in the gender imbalance within the black community — where two African American women graduate from college for every one African American male. Despite this imbalance, there is still enormous social pressure on black women to only marry black men — to “sustain” the race and build strong black families. And this means marrying black men even if they are less educated or earn less money. In short, no matter the personal cost, black woman are encourage to marry “down” before they marry “out.”
Down before out” — ouch! That sounds like a pretty harsh indictment.
Well, this has become almost a consensus view (within the black community). Authors like Steve Harvey and Hill Harper and particularly filmmaker Tyler Perry promote this notion that black women who lack good relationships are victims of their own elitism and snobbery. That they should open their eyes to the virtues of working-class black men and focus on their long-term potential. These kinds of messages tell a black female lawyer, for instance, that she should be enthusiastic about dating a carpenter or a plumber — and if she’s not, then she is the one with the problem. It pressures black women to give up certain kinds of life experiences (for the sake of a man) when white women are taught to cultivate them. This is simply bad advice that can lead these women into disastrous relationships.
Read more after the jump.
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.
Thoughts??? Or do you need to read his whole interview first?