I have come to understand that my personal discomfort with certain discussions has no impact on others insistence that I participate in them. Such situations invariably revolve around my interactions with my female students who fit the following description of being young, black, and college educated.
Although I often shy away from engaging them in what must be their favorite discussion of who will they marry. I am confident that you understand that this “elephant in the room” discussion of the absence of young black men in collegiate classrooms across the nation is equally uncomfortable and disconcerting because I desperately want to give the young ladies who listen to my lectures at least a modicum of hope that all is not lost in regards to their desire to be courted by and eventually marry a black man that caters to them to no end. Unfortunately, any hope that I provide for them is tempered by their observation that their hopes of finding their equal in regards to education, finances, and social status are severely curtailed by the sheer absence of black males in collegiate classrooms across the nation.
According to a recent Brookings Institute Study, of all female populations, African-American women have the least opportunity of marrying an “equally yoked” male from their racial group. Make no mistake about it, phraseology such as “equally yoked” is a synonym for equal socioeconomic status and educational attainments. According to Brookings Institute researchers, there are simply not enough available black men for successful black women to become “equally yoked.” Such realities lead us to a daunting question of “What is a girl to do?”
According to the researchers mentioned above, for African-American women who refuse to entertain suitors of another race, the only reasonable solution for them is to drastically alter their understanding of what it means to be “equally yoked.” Put simply; black women could dramatically increase their pool of marriageable black men if they curtailed their expectations and “married down.”
Historically speaking, declining marriage rates and an evaporating pool of educated, marriage-minded, black men to choose from is a relatively new phenomenon that has occurred over the last half-century. Ironically, these matters have unfolded during what many projected to be moments of racial advancement. The moments that I allude to are President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s ushering in of racial equality on the law books of America via the 1964 Civil Rights and 1965 Voting Rights Acts. The following chart offers compelling information regarding the marriage rates of black women before advanced stages of racial integration.
The myriad reasons that there are so few young college educated black men for like stationed black women to marry are well known: flawed educational system, the absence of suitable role models, female-headed households, dereliction of duty by black fathers, incarceration, homicide, homosexuality, unemployment, and drug abuse. According to the Brookings Institute study, “The lack of marriageable men in the black community is affected by the very high rates of incarceration and early death among black men compared to white men. Among black male high school dropouts, 60 percent will be dead or incarcerated before the age of 35.” Indeed, death or incarceration serve as significant stumbling blocks in the marriage process.
Consider the following chart created by the U.S. Department of Justice that highlights the horrific effects that the war on drugs had on African-American men; an impact that has severely curtailed the number of “marriageable” black men to this very moment.
Considering such realities, one has to consider what the viable options are available to college-educated African-American women who would rather remain single than date, let alone marry, outside of the race?
Making matters worse for black women is the harsh reality that there is a segment of black men who hold a comprehensively negative view of them. As evidenced by their public proclamations of being willing to date outside of the race, many black men of varying socioeconomic status and educational level have vowed to not only date but also marry exclusively outside of the race.
It may be the time that a harsh truth that “education has never done anything for the heart” is taught to young college-educated African-American women. Put simply; there is no correlation between an increase in socioeconomic status and one’s ability to be a suitable mate. If one did not know any better, it would seem that the principal concerns of many educated black women do not revolve around issues of compatibility, love, and commitment, rather a man’s earning potential.
In truth, far too many black men and women have used grossly flawed evaluation criterion such as physical appearance or a person’s style of dress to inform their decision regarding an individual’s potential to be a mate. We have allowed these fleeting qualities to eclipse more everlasting qualities such as integrity, honesty, fidelity, and love.
I am confident that we all agree it is the time that we all, male and female, take a step back and tailor our likes and dislikes, wants and needs, to fit ourselves regardless of what others may think or say about our choice. Failure to do such is doing a major disservice to the most important person in your life, yourself.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017.