Widgets Magazine

Banks outlines racial marriage gap

Law professor Richard Banks said that twice as many African-American women graduate with a college degree as African-American men during his talk Tuesday afternoon discussing his recently published book, “Is Marriage for White People?”

He said his book looked at the declining rate of marriage among African Americans as opposed to other races, the increasing disparity in socioeconomic statuses between married couples and the minimal likelihood for black women to marry outside of her own race. According to Banks, less than ten percent of black women marry outside of her race.

“One part of my book is qualitative sociology studies and census data, and the other part is made up of in-depth interviews, making the reading personally entertaining, engaging and informative at the same time,” Banks said.

He said his book started as purely an academic project —  an effort to see how big socioeconomic changes influence individuals. According to Banks, he went through legal, sociological and economic archives to conduct research, and was inspired by a Stanford alumna to further pursue his studies when she stated that his research related to her life very much.

“One in ten black men is in prison as we speak,” Banks said. “Black women have the smallest pool of potential partners within their race, yet black women are also the least likely to marry outside of their race, while women of other minorities, like Asian and Latinas, are three times as likely to do so.”

This is the major question Banks addresses in his book, and his book discusses possible reasons for this disparity in statistics.

“I’m trying to unpack all the different things that keep black women segregated even as other groups are becoming increasingly integrated,” he said. “It’s a conversation about things that we don’t usually talk about.”

“African-American women want black babies because they want to uphold the black race,” he continued. “Because they have fear of their community and families not being accepting, and because the women don’t want to be confused as nannies of their different colored babies.”

Banks said, however, that by not excluding individuals who are of a different race, African-American women would have more options and, as a result, better matched relationships in terms of socioeconomic statuses and shared educational experiences — making their marriages more stable and more empowering.

“Rather than having the men be the ‘dealmakers’ and the women be the ‘dealtakers’ of a relationship, women can achieve relationships with men that are more to their liking,” he said. “This is the ultimate paradox. Some people see it as an abandonment of the race, but really the best thing individual women can do is to open themselves to those outside of their race.”

One of the underlying criticisms of Banks’s book is that it is not pro-feminist, but rather pro-marriage. Banks said that this view probably extends from marriage having a bed reputation, since marriage is historically as disadvantaging the lives of women.

However, he said his book is “feminist because it is about enabling more black women to pursue a relationship that they want.”

About Catherine Zaw

Catherine Zaw was formerly the Managing Editor of News for Vol. 245 and Vol. 246. To contact her, please email czaw13@gmail.com.
  • Brahmin

    I am a black woman married to a black man but I believe it was possible because I dated outside my race. Not mentioned in this article black men are very likely to marry outside their race. 

    And when you make someone your priority and you are their option there is an imbalance of power that makes for a tough relationship under such circumstances. And that is usually the circumstance when a professional black woman meets a professional black man. Act desperate for someone attention the man can’t get far enough fast enough. 

    My gorgeous, beautiful black girlfriends, all with advanced degrees from top schools lost their confidence and cool when a black man with even a BA came around because their is a race for him.

    I had no trouble finding a man of any race.  As beauty and credentials go I  could mix in the pack.  But the way I acted stood out. I had my own personality to like or hate, I fostered conversation, I was not catty with nearby females, I pursued my own interest and kept things casual about getting to known someone.  The odd part my female black friends are  very interesting, funny, and appealing but when some potential black male entered the room they became different people, ugly and competitive. 

    The pressure to marry a black man is too much, and unhealthy.