The importance of Valentine’s Day, like birthdays, graduations, Christmas and straight-A report cards, changes significantly as you get older. When you’re in elementary school, Valentine’s Day is an obligatory dropping of cheap paper cards into construction-paper boxes in front of everybody’s desk. In high school, perhaps an elaborate purchase of helium balloons that you have to carry around awkwardly from math class to first lunch. By the time you reach adulthood, the magic is kinda gone. If you’re dating, you get to spend twice as much for the same meal at Intermezzo as you spent there last Saturday, and if you’re single, don’t even try to get a table; they’re booked.
One of the other traditions around Valentine’s Day are obligatory think pieces about whether black love is alive or dead or on life support or can be saved only if we get down with the swirl. Generally I think these articles are cheap racialized clickbait, and before you start forwarding “Rachel Dolezal’s Advice for Black Women on Valentine’s Day” on Facebook, there is actually some very positive information out there about black love.
So if you’re looking to spice up your conversation on the most romantic weekend of the year, or wanting to shut down some cynical friends, here are five black-love stats for Valentine’s Day 2016.
1. Having a job equals finding a date.
Thanks to President Barack Obama, more and more African Americans will probably have dates for Valentine’s Day in 2016 than at any point in the last 10 years. Why? Because black unemployment is the lowest it’s been in a decade, and studies show that most people meet their significant others and eventual spouses at work.
Yes, yes, we all know that African-American unemployment is twice that of white America. That’s been the case for almost all of American history (discounting those years when black employment was at 100 percent). However, the drop in the black rate from 10.4 percent in February 2015 to around 8 percent in February 2016 means that your chances of bumping into a potential cuffing buddy in the break room just got that much better.
2. The club is jumping in your 30s.
Long before she was in an abusive relationship in Scandal, Kerry Washington played a temptress to Chris Rock in the underrated movie I Think I love My Wife. At the film’s climax, Washington, who’s been the hot girl her whole life, admits that things have hit a standstill. She says that as beautiful as she is when she goes out, men will still gravitate toward 20-somethings, which leads her to the horrifying concluding monologue: “Then it hit me. You know, I’m 32 years old. I’m the old bitch at the club now. Think it was the first time in my life I was talking to a man who wasn’t even thinking about f–king me.”