The swift and poignant response I received after a recent post linking the cause for spiraling marriage rates in the black community to the steeply declining numbers of young, educated, and professional black men unleashed a long-simmering anger of outrageous ferocity.
As I began to receive calls and read emails regarding the posting, it did not take me long to realize that black men had long ago tired of being blamed for the failings of the black community, particularly failed marriages and the unprecedented increase of single female-headed households. Put simply, accomplished black men are no longer willing to silently carry the bulk of those social maladies alone, if at all. The emotional intensity of the alluded to responses was so significant that I felt compelled to revisit this topic sooner, rather than later.
The public protestations regarding my earlier posting emanated from a cross-section of Black America, male and female, young and old, formally educated within the academy and those who earned their stripes via the school of hard knocks. I personally knew a few of those who responded, others I had no prior exposure to beyond sporadic social media postings. Nevertheless, engagement with this highly diverse population of Black America made one thing painfully clear, this conflict over love and matrimony is Black America’s latest internal Civil War, a conflict that has raged uncontrollably over the past fifty-plus years.
It may have been my pre-existing relationship with many of the responders that led me to consider their impassioned protestations over the data included in my earlier posting as more than irrational complaining. The referenced data base that pointed to young, educated, and professional black men as the primary reason for declining black matrimony rates raised the ire of all responders in an uncommon way.
After pondering on this matter, it is obvious that black men feel that the conclusions presented by the Brookings Institute presents a partial portrait of why so many educated black women are not marrying black men. One of the most poignant responses emanated from a former student who took significant issue with the insinuation that he, and those like him, held any responsibility for black women’s failure to find everlasting love.
There are plenty of single (gainfully employed) black men actively looking for black women…(I have found that) It’s nearly impossible to meet and develop a meaningful relationship with a woman that’s outside of your social circle. Most people I know that got married met their wife through friends or friends of friends.
As for collegiate women, I know some (grown) women that would club them over the head for complaining about their inability to find marriage-minded educated and professional black men. From ages 16-23 women hold ALL the cards. Men don’t really get the upper hand in the dating game until about age 26 and up. I think these women are just hopping on a convenient bandwagon to take the light off themselves and their poor choices in men.
The above sentiments were echoed by a Brooklynite school teacher. “C’mon, black women need to stop all of this complaining about there not being any good black men available” the educator lamented. “The truth of the matter is that for many of the sisters who are supposedly seeking an educated black man, they are their own worst enemies. I cannot tell you how many sisters that I dated prior to getting married (to a black woman) who quite simply were impossible to get along with, particularly if you displayed genuine interest in them without any significant problems. I mean after a while, who wants to be bothered with someone who is being difficult for the sake of being difficult. Oh, I forgot. They aren’t being difficult, they are being STRONG black women. Well, if that is what a strong black woman is, I don’t want any parts of it.”
As I read through the litany of comments, it became obvious that the experiences of so many educated black men are not reflected in data used by the previously referenced Brookings Institute study.
Yet another brother communicated his utter disbelief in what he termed the consistent lie that there are gangs of educated black women who are actively seeking educated, professional, and financially stable black men as husbands.
Please don’t mistake me, I’m not arguing the validity of math, but with so many of my patnas’ (sic) with college degrees, no kids, making good money and actively searching for a black wife it seems odd whenever I read things like this. If they’re in such high demand they’d be off the market, no? I won’t throw shade at the sistas, after all, they’re not some homogeneous hive mind but it’s worth noting that the attentions of some are usually grabbed by another “type”… IJS
Although many relationship experts attribute much of the discord between black men and women to “bad timing”, many African-American men refuse such escapism. A former college roommate offered the following analysis.
“I have learned that far too often, black women are not seeking the good guy until they have been psychologically damaged, given a couple of children, and then decide that such associations are not working for them. When you think about it, there is no greater sign of a flawed set of priorities than the decisions that so many black women make regarding their personal lives. I actually had a female friend tell me that she would never settle in regards to her selection of a mate. However, over the past fifteen-years I have watched her select men that even Stevie Wonder could see did not represent any of the things that she wanted for her life. There was some type of disjointing that had occurred in her statements regarding what type of man she desired and the type of man that she welcomed into her bed. For her, settling meant finding a gainfully employed, educated, and professionally successful brother who was not about the B.S. Just crazy, I tell ya!”
The black men who contacted me regarding the previous posting all agreed that researchers who focus solely on data bases are missing the mark and should turn their lens toward examining the socialization and priorities of black women prior to using numbers to explain such matters. “It is in this arena that they will find the actual reason that so many educated black women have failed to find suitable mates” according to a Houston-based Engineer. Indicative of such thoughts was the following litany I received from an anonymous brother who asserted that “in their own pursuit of success, black women have been socialized into believing that they need neither marriage nor black men. So it is predictable that women who have been raised to believe that they must be prepared to take care of themselves, by themselves, would hesitate, if not outright refuse to rely on black men in any situation. I know married sisters who have secretly hidden money from their husband, just in case things go awry. When you think about it, they are only married on paper, not in the truest sense of the word.”
British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once communicated the following. “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” After hearing and reading the responses of many accomplished black men regarding their culpability, if not outright responsibility, for the declining rates of marriage for educated black women, I am certain that they agree with Disraeli’s quip.
And that most certainly ain’t no lie.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2017