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Book Review: Banks’s Is Marriage for White People? How African American Marriage Decline Affects Everone

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7 Responses

  1. Matthew Lister says:

    A very interesting review. Is there discussion of rates of use of birth control and abortion for various groups? I would think that you couldn’t get a complete picture about patterns of non-marital births without looking at those issues.

  2. June Carbone says:

    The book has some discussion of birth control and more on abortion. In particular, Banks notes that the stigma against non-marital births has remained quite high for middle class African-American women (although that is beginning to change), and that a high percent of all African-American pregnancies end in abortion. Our research indicates that for the middle class generally, high rates of birth control usage are the norm and abortion is important to holding the line on single parent pregnancies.

  3. Matthew Lister says:

    Thanks for the extra information, June- that’s interesting and useful.

  4. androcles says:

    “do better by their women”

    there may be a better way to put that

  5. It’s an interesting conundrum with 42% of black men and 42% of Black women never marrying. Taking the problem out of it’s racial context and making it everyone’s problem is socially prescient.

    As a Black 40-something unmarried Black woman, my self-serving question is whether interracial marriage really will change attitudes and behavior of Black men in the long term? As crossing the color line may generate even more discord between single Black men and women in the short term.

  6. MeatSac says:

    As the review suggests, a book like this begs the underlying question of *why* we appear as a society to have lost several generations of men, of all color. We may decry all we want the apparent general loss of male interest in preparing, leading, succeeding and accomplishing, but until we come to grips with the fact that we have disenfranchised entire generations of boys and men, the pattern will continue and increase in despair. Perhaps the response will be that men *deserve* to be repressed, in order to equalize hundreds (thousands?) of years of patriarchal domination. However, the problem with that premise is that we men are important to this society, important as fathers and husbands, and until that importance is re-established and respected, it will not be regained.
    I never cease to be amazed at how men and fathers are portrayed constantly in popular media; I am Homer Simpson or Peter Griffin, a pathetically flawed, brainless oaf who, without my practical, ultimately wise, intelligent, caring and sensitive wife, I would be a complete psychopath. If it is not some man dipping his sons feet in white goo in order to come up with “socks that fit” (and being told by the wife and mother figure that “that is stupid”), then it is the Lifetime channel showing twenty-fours hours of movies with some theme that follows these general principles, “Mommy, may I sleep with the serial killer (who is male)”, or “there is a stalker outside my window (who is male)”, or “he was really nice when we married, but now he is Satan, and beats on me” – do you see the theme here? “Pop culture” takes a hit anytime one wishes to point out societal failure, but if you readily accept that fashion magazines give young women poor self image, then you cannot reject the popular images of how we portray fathers and men giving our young men painful lessons, either. If there are male role models, they are 5 foot tall androgynous pop singers, violent and reckless rap singers, steroidal monsters, or ultra-conservative apocalyptics praying for relief from the poor job market. I can’t say that I have the definition of what it is to be a man, as I am still trying to figure it out myself, but every fiber in my rather more than 5ft frame tells me that it is not the gentle androgynous character.
    We fail to support and show strong male role models of either color and ultimately wonder why we have raised boys that discredit themselves, their future, and respect for women? I am for gender equality, and I am raising two young girls. I want them to be strong, smart, and self sufficient (so no princesses for these two – no indoctrination that they need a man to save them), but I want them to know that not all men hit or molest or murder, and to value and respect the differences that make us unique, and more importantly, valuable – to each other and our society as a whole, regardless of color.

  7. Gwen Kelly says:

    I truly applaud the attention Professor Banks’ book will generate. This is a subject that has been long overlooked and as we hope will be seen, needs to be discussed. That being said, I would suggest that Banks’ proposition of telling African-American women to look for marriage partners outside of their race is in effect, wrong. No matter what the attainment of higher education and economic status of Black women, really, Banks wants us to believe upwardly mobile, non-black,middle and upper middle-class men are now going to look at black women as serious marriage partners when black women widen their selection pool? The discussion that Banks’ books skirts and largely avoids is the impact of race. And at the end of the day, as Dr. Cornel West so aptly says…race matters. And so it will be here too when non-black men look at who they select as potential marriage partners. They ain’t looking to the sistahs in any larger measure than they ever have in the past or ever will in the future.