Book Review: ‘Is Marriage for White People?’
Author: Ralph Richard Banks
The groom can’t help himself.
His smile is ear to ear as he watches his bride slowly make her way down the aisle. He’s so in love with her, and for good reason: it’s their wedding day and she’s lovely, both inside and out, a vision in white. But what color is her skin?
According to Ralph Richard Banks, the odds are that it’s not black. Learn more in his new book “Is Marriage for White People?” (c.2011, Dutton, $25.95 / $30.00, Canada, 289 pages, includes notes).
How many of your African American friends are married?
Probably fewer than those who wish they were. Ralph Richard Banks says that “African Americans have become the most unmarried people in our nation.” Nearly 70 percent of Black women are unmarried and three in 10 may never marry.
Marriage used to be the ideal, says Banks. It was the only socially acceptable way to be sexually active and to procreate, but in the 1970s things changed, due in part to the availability of birth control and no-fault divorce. Still, marriage is the “goal” for most Americans.
One of the main issues within the African American community, says Banks, is that there’s a shortage of college-educated, single Black men. Incarceration is the “most talked-about aspect of the numbers problem” and it’s one that lasts: jail records tend to confer a long-time stigma of prison that women won’t generally accept. Not even a post-prison college education erases that reluctance.
So what are the ramifications of the lack of available, desirable Black men?
Black women rarely “marry down,” so a lot of single sisters are more willing to “man-share,” says Banks. More and more single Black men are rotating several girlfriends because they’re “having fun” and because there’s no urgent reason to behave otherwise. Black women feel powerless to stop this because “Black men are in short supply” and a part-time relationship is better than nothing.
So what can be done?
Banks has one main idea: Black women don’t need to remain single. They can open their minds and “marry out.” Though it seems to be a conundrum, “If more Black women married non-Black men, more Black men and women might marry each other.”
Without a doubt, there will be some readers who’ll want to throw “Is Marriage for White People?” out into the street. Like any author with a possibly-contentious subject, Banks may anger some people—but there will be many who will applaud what he has to say.
Banks, a married educator, has statistics and facts to back up his information—so much so that about a third of this book is referential. He takes things further with interviews and an explanation on how he came to his thought-provoking conclusions. This is an intriguing book, both for the information that Banks presents and for the results he ends up with.
But will it work? That remains to be seen but, in the meantime, “Is Marriage for White People?” is guaranteed to start a lot of conversations. If you’re single and don’t want to be, vow to read this book soon.
The song always pops up when you least expect it.
There you are, minding your own business, you hear a few notes, and you’re pulled back to a wonderful-horrible time, starry dreams, laughter, bitterness, love lost. That old love song might be just a “precious melody,” but it almost brings you to your knees.
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rev. Amos Brown, pastor of the Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, and Rev. Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative in Washington, D.C., are brothers of the cloth. Though they share a love for Christ and the Bible, they do not share the same views on same-sex marriage, an issue now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
I was among the 33.5 million people who sat riveted to their televisions, parsing every second of the State of the Union address. I was stunned to learn, through a Washington Post article by Lisa De Moraes, that viewership was less substantial for this address than last year’s 38 million, and even lower than the 48 million that watched in 2010. Are people less interested in what our president has to say? Or is there something else going on?
In any case, from my perspective this was an important and significant State of the Union address.
In this slow meander to California’s winter, with the bustle and boom of the last election season behind us, the business of governing California now takes a bolder stance. Within that context, African Americans in the California State Legislature have again achieved their highest number—nine—for the second time. This increases by one last year’s number, with two state senators (out of 40) and seven Assembly members (out of 80). They are all a part of the heavily Democratic Party-dominated status of the current state Legislature.
Congress is on fire to balance the federal budget, and they don’t care who they take as prisoners in the process. There are at least two proposals to freeze federal salaries for yet another year (they have been frozen since 2011), and to continue to demonize federal workers as do-nothing folks who don’t need raises. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama has asked for a minimal half percent a year increase, and many in the private sector are seeing wages rise. Of course, everyone is struggling with unemployment rates rising to 8.2 percent.