"MARRIAGE IS FOR WHITE PEOPLE" | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

"MARRIAGE IS FOR WHITE PEOPLE"

Article by Joy Jones at Washingtonpost.com---

'I grew up in a time when two-parent families were still the norm, in both black and white America. Then, as an adult, I saw divorce become more commonplace, then almost a rite of passage. Today it would appear that many -- particularly in the black community -- have dispensed with marriage altogether.

But as a black woman, I have witnessed the outrage of girlfriends when the ex failed to show up for his weekend with the kids, and I've seen the disappointment of children who missed having a dad around. Having enjoyed a close relationship with my own father, I made a conscious decision that I wanted a husband, not a live-in boyfriend and not a "baby's daddy," when it came my time to mate and marry.

My time never came.

For years, I wondered why not. And then some 12-year-olds enlightened me. "Marriage is for white people."

That's what one of my students told me some years back when I taught a career exploration class for sixth-graders at an elementary school in Southeast Washington. I was pleasantly surprised when the boys in the class stated that being a good father was a very important goal to them, more meaningful than making money or having a fancy title.

"That's wonderful!" I told my class. "I think I'll invite some couples in to talk about being married and rearing children."

"Oh, no," objected one student. "We're not interested in the part about marriage. Only about how to be good fathers."

And that's when the other boy chimed in, speaking as if the words left a nasty taste in his mouth: "Marriage is for white people."

He's right. At least statistically. The marriage rate for African Americans has been dropping since the 1960s, and today, we have the lowest marriage rate of any racial group in the United States. In 2001, according to the U.S. Census, 43.3 percent of black men and 41.9 percent of black women in America had never been married, in contrast to 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent respectively for whites. African American women are the least likely in our society to marry. In the period between 1970 and 2001, the overall marriage rate in the United States declined by 17 percent; but for blacks, it fell by 34 percent. Such statistics have caused Howard University relationship therapist Audrey Chapman to point out that African Americans are the most uncoupled people in the country.
How have we gotten here? What has shifted in African American customs, in our community, in our consciousness, that has made marriage seem unnecessary or unattainable?'

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/25/AR2006032500029.html

Previous Comments

ID
105580
Comment

I guess it's true that out of the mouths of babes... Never knew these statistics or seen a study like this. Puts things in a different perspective.

Author
c a webb
Date
2006-03-29T08:52:52-06:00
ID
105581
Comment

I think it's sad. Because of my beliefs, I believe in marriage before children, and both would be nice. However, the likelihood of that occurring is slim because of the decline of available, decent, God-fearing men willing to commit to a "til death do you part" relationship. I had already made a decision some time ago that I will not be so desperate for a husband that I will take just anything. Also, I decided that if I leave this earth single and childless, that is okay. I refuse to lower my standards for "baby mama drama" or any other drama. Maybe when I am more stable financially, emotionally, etc., I'll adopt and just leave it at that. Who knows?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-03-29T12:57:16-06:00
ID
105582
Comment

L.W., the reason I posted this article is because it struck me as odd that young people were actually thinking along these lines. But then when you look at what might be their surroundings, it made a little more sense to me. You're right, it is sad. And I guess it's up to us as individuals to change such a perception.

Author
c a webb
Date
2006-03-29T13:05:03-06:00
ID
105583
Comment

I remember a CBS report last year (that I can't find) where the government would give a black family a grant if the mother and father would marry. An expert that was interviewed, a black male who was with some organization or something, said that when he mentioned marriage to some blacks, they would ask him if he was crazy because they would lose their benefits. I wish I could find that article.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-03-29T13:13:16-06:00
ID
105584
Comment

Well, here's another article that ties in well to this topic. The last paragraph is the best part: The right and best way for a culture to restore itself is for it to be rebuilt, not from the top down by government policies, but from the bottom up by personal decisions. On the side of that effort, we can find churches—or at least many of them—and the common experience of adults that the essence of marriage is not sex, or money, or even children: it is commitment. People used to say all the time that men were afraid of commitment. Is this fear now increasing among both sexes?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-03-29T13:24:59-06:00
ID
105585
Comment

L.W., I think I look at myself when it comes to commitment. I have never had a problem being in a committed relationship, but I don't look at myself as "marriage material" at this time. Mainly because my work and causes I am involved with or honestly more important. Joy Jones says alot in this article that I think goes beyond mere fidelity. It is a mind-set. That's where I feel as though relationships run into problems. They are so physical that they don't have time to make a mental connection.

Author
c a webb
Date
2006-03-29T13:40:31-06:00
ID
105586
Comment

They are so physical that they don't have time to make a mental connection. Couldn't agree with you more. It seems like people are confusing lust with love, and on the other hand, some don't care about love anyway. They just want to "get some". Sigh.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-03-29T19:34:57-06:00
ID
105587
Comment

L. W., another fact that impresses me about this story is that Joy Jones was talking with sixth graders. The boys were actually thinking about what type of fathers they would be, rather than how much money they would make. Why is it they have their priorities so right and we as adults get so off track? Makes you wonder.

Author
c a webb
Date
2006-03-29T21:03:42-06:00

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