While we are tired of all of the statistics trotted out to announce to the world that dynamic black women will never marry, Angela Stanley does a great job of unpacking the myths and statistics that are used to cause drama and anxiety in the lives of single black women.
In a New York Times op-ed, she breaks down the popular beliefs about the habits of black women in the dating world, along with marriage statistics that don’t really take into account when black women do actually marry, which is later in life.
Instead of being applauded for waiting until our lives are together educationally, economically and professionally, black women are being demonized, even by members of their families, for being unable to find a man. Stanley takes the statistics and society to task for perpetuating myths while subverting reality in order to misrepresent the truth about black women and marriage. Check out an excerpt from the New York Times op-ed below:
I’m almost positive the people in my life don’t mean to add to the anxiety I already feel about being single in my 30s without children. Implicit in some of their comments is the idea that my failure to marry is beyond my control, a function of being born black and female.
It’s not simply an unhelpful observation. This culturally popular notion that 70 percent of black women don’t marry is just a myth. For the last few years, I have been hearing from every source imaginable that the vast majority of black women will never marry. This never made sense to me because so many black women I know are married. And indeed, eventually, most black women do marry.
A look at recent census data will tell you that the 70 percent we keep hearing about has been misconstrued. According to 2009 data from the Census Bureau, 70.5 percent of black women in the United States had never been married — but those were women between the ages of 25 and 29. Black women marry later, but they do marry. By age 55 and above, those numbers showed, only 13 percent of black women had never been married. In fact, people who have never married in their lifetimes are in the clear minority, regardless of race.
With all the attention on black women, I had assumed that black men must be marrying in droves; otherwise they would be the focus of similar scrutiny. Not the case. Census numbers show that 73.1 percent of black men between the ages of 25 and 29 have never been married. That is actually higher than the numbers associated with black women.
Without warrant, black women have been the main focus of the “marriage crisis.” Marriage as the norm in the United States has been on the decline for decades; married couples now make up less than half of American households.
So why all of the negative attention on black women?