Myth-Busting the Black Marriage ‘Crisis’

Panic over single black women is unfounded. Two black scholars have the numbers to prove it.

The percentage of black women 35 and older who have never been marrieddrops to 25 percent. (Thinkstock)
The percentage of black women 35 and older who have never been marrieddrops to 25 percent. (Thinkstock)

When it comes to marriage in the African-American community, two black scholars have a message: The mainstream media’s analysis is divisive and defeatist. We’re slammed with panic-inducing statistics because fear sells. And we need to stop buying into it.

Their research, recently published in Empower Magazine, is an answer to the onslaught of gloom-and-doom news about black women’s struggles to find black mates. You know, the coverage that’s oozing with desperation and grounded in seemingly alarming numbers. Take a Washington Post piece from 2006:

In the Washington area, there are 83 single black men for every hundred single black women … For Robyn and black women like her — who see their fates intimately bound to black men — life means strategizing and dreaming beyond the numbers in a world where it seems the ground has shifted under their feet. 

If that wasn’t enough melodrama to make you want to go watch Waiting to Exhale while commiserating with Asian men and researching adoption, there was the December 2009 ABC News/Nightline story “Single, Black, Female — and Plenty of Company.” And during the April 2010 “Nightline Face-Off: Why Can’t a Successful Black Woman Find a Man?” “expert” comedians and commentators set up a blame game between the genders.

After the alarms about the “crisis” sounded, the headline-grabbing solutions rolled in. In a Washington Post piece, an author urged black women to save themselves by dating men of other races. Ralph Richard Banks has proposed the same fix to the “black marriage dilemma” in his upcoming book, “Is Marriage for White People?”

The coverage of this issue is excessive, and the tone and content can be unproductive. That’s clear. But we can’t question the alarming statistics that drive the discussion. Right?