"Ain't nothing going on but the rent. You got to have a J.O.B., if you want to be with me. No romance without finance." Remember that 1986 song by Gwen Guthrie? At that time, black women generally needed the black man's earning potential to sustain their families. We all remember that back in the day, it was the black man's role to be the "breadwinner" in the family, and that many times, women married -- or stayed in dysfunctional marriages -- because they couldn't afford to be alone. Oh my, how times have changed.
Like last week, this week's entry discusses another article that circulated via email last week. The article, titled "Marriage Is for White People," addresses the low marriage rates for black people, as compared to people of other racial groups. The article also states some very interesting statistics that support this phenomenon:
- African-Americans have the lowest rate of marriage of any racial group in the U.S.
- 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites.
- African-American women are the least likely in our society to marry.
- In the period between 1970 and 2001, the overall marriage rate in the United States declined by 17 percent; but for blacks, it fell by 34 percent.
- A black child was more likely to grow up living with both parents during slavery days than he or she is today.
The author attributes these statistics to her observation 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." She continues by stating, "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."
WOW, it's like deja vu. I feel like I've had this very conversation with several of my girlfriends before, and this article has sparked more conversation (and more opinions) about the subject. Personally, I can definitely relate to the author's observations. When I was in my early to mid 20's, I was much more willing to settle down than I am now. As I look back, I can objectively say that back then, I was probably looking for someone to provide me with stability -- not to make me rich, but to make me feel safe and secure. As I have gotten older, and accomplished more in my life, my standards in men have changed. As the article states, "Women's expectations have changed dramatically while men's have not changed much at all..." "Women now say, 'Providing is not enough. I need more partnership.'" The author also states, "Most single black women over the age of 30 whom I know would not mind getting married, but acknowledge that the kind of man and the quality of marriage they would like to have may not be likely, and they are not desperate enough to simply accept any situation just to have a man."
Those comments really resonate with me because I can relate to them. Financially, I'm pretty self-sufficient, so I don't need a man to provide that type of security for me. Rather, I need a man to be my friend, my confidant, and my partner, as the article states. Personally, I feel like black women have stepped up their game, and are bringing a lot more to the table; whereas black men really have not done the same. Instead of just bringing financial support to the table, black men need to realize that they need to bring emotional support to the table as well.
Perhaps some of these attitudes toward marriage cause, or are caused by, the information related in last week's entry about the state of the black man. Either way, I think it is a topic worth discussing, and I look forward to your comments.
If you have not read the article, click here to access it: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/25/AR2006032500029.html?referrer=emailarticle&sub=AR