Myth-Busting the Black Marriage 'Crisis'
Panic over single black women is unfounded. Two black scholars have the numbers to prove it.
drops to 25 percent. (Thinkstock)
Not all "successful" black men marry women of other races. To challenge what they call the "cultural myth" that successful black men are likely to be unavailable to black women because they prefer to marry outside their race, Toldson and Marks point out that among married black men with a personal income above $100,000, 83 percent have black wives. Among married black men with college degrees, 85 percent have black wives. Toldson cautions against exaggerating a behavior that we might see as negative, when in reality it occurs a small percentage of the time.
Their findings come with a call to action: First, scrutinize the agenda of the media. "Entrepreneurial elements of America have found a variety of creative ways to benefit financially from black females' anxieties at the expense of black male egos," Toldson says. "If you can show somebody that there is a really devastating problem, they'll pay more attention to you. If you have something that you think will correct the problem, they'll pay attention to that." Think Ralph Richard Banks and his book on the "interracial fix" for black marriage. "He's not going to show you any evidence to the contrary because he wants his book to be bought," Toldson says.
Second, aim to keep the dialogue positive. "Marriage between black women and black men is an issue right now. We're not pretending it's not an issue, and we really do need to have a healthy discussion about that," Toldson concedes. But he blames the tenor of the media-fueled dialogue for making things worse, and encourages us to structure debates in a way that does not denigrate black men or dispirit black women.
Finally, the researchers ask us to rid ourselves of a "black equals bad" mentality. "We believe negative things about ourselves more than other people believe negative things about themselves," Toldson told The Root. "People put things out there without any perspective. And as black people, we accept that. We operate under the assumption that if it's black, it's negative, but if you take an unbiased look at the data, you'll often find that things aren't as bad for black people as they think, and you'll also find some things that are positive."
Jenée Desmond-Harris is a contributing editor at The Root.