Marriage isn’t quite what it used to be regardless of race

I am in faux vacation mode; I call it faux because regular readers know I stay busy like a field hand in 1887. However today aside from dealing with email for an hour, I pretty much chilled on the beach with my kids and had no intentions of writing anything tonight.

That was until I checked in on twitter and saw several of my tweeps spitting nasty fire over this post. Wowzas! Seriously you have to read it but if you aren’t inclined let me paraphrase, the long and the short is that Black folks are dysfunctional and don’t value marriage. Sure, a lot of Black babies are the result of pairings between unmarried folks but the fact is in 2012 most babies born to moms under 30 are also the pairing of folks who aren’t married.

In the US alone half of all marriages end in divorce and those that stay married are looking at some new and shall we say interesting ways to stay legally married…open marriages anyone?

Marriage is a lovely thing but in a society that sells it as fairy tale, it’s no wonder so many marriages fail, marriage is work. I have been open about the fact that my own marriage dodged some bullets this past year, hell last year this time I was pretty certain that I was headed towards divorce #2. My own parents were married until death ended that union and they logged in 30+ years, in the end it was a solid union and they loved each other but there were a lot of frankly painful and messy years wedged between the I do and the death certificate.

When it’s good, marriage can add so much to one’s lives but it’s not a cure all and when we think of marriage as a tool that can better one’s plight in life, well that is a recipe for disaster. We live in a different world, one where marriage doesn’t necessarily mean it will turn one’s economic fortunes around. When I think of Black marriage specifically I see many reasons why it doesn’t happen, for starters while if it’s a recession for white folks economically, it’s been a straight up depression for Black folks for many years. Finances are a huge factor, let’s face it, two broke folks marrying isn’t always a great idea especially in a world that many years ago decided to dole assistance out only if a man wasn’t present…

I admit I could go on with reasons but fuck it, I am tired but I will say that lack of a legal piece of paper doesn’t preclude two parents from being active and involved in their kids’ lives. I stumbled upon this piece last week and of course no one talked about it, it’s so much easier to see the negatives than the positives. Turns out many Black men are quite active in their kids’ lives even if they aren’t married to the mother of their kids. I admit this jives with my own anecdotal stories.

In the end love doesn’t need a paper and while marriage offers with it many privileges and rights, marriage done wrong causes a world of heartache. While studies like to fixate on the woes of Black folks, the lower marriage rates are really across the board, so let’s not act as if Black folks are any more dysfunctional than any other group.

2 thoughts on “Marriage isn’t quite what it used to be regardless of race

  1. See, Shay, I’m going to have to side (partially) with Christelyn on this one. I am EXTREMELY liberal, particularly when it comes to the black community (as a black person myself). But, this is one issue that is going to elicit a very conservative stance from me. I think we need to “buck up”, as my grandmother would say, when it comes to the topic of having children and marriage. As black women being single-parents is NOT helping our community.

    We as a community want to get defensive when the hard, cold truth is given to us. Historically, having children out of wedlock has not benefited us.
    You are right, marriage isn’t an ideal. It is not a fairytale fantasy, which is the reason why, at 35.7, I am still single (and childless). Yet, it’s rather too easy to compare ourselves to white people and assume that, because they may also have high rates of single parenting, it can also be good for us. We are not in a position economically, politically, or socially to compare our failures as a community to the failures of white people. White people don’t have a legacy of slavery that still haunts them. White people didn’t have their spouses taken from them and used as breeders for their slave masters. White men were not dehumanized and forced to watch their wives be raped for breeding by their slave masters. White people can do a lot of ridiculous stuff and get away with it. We can’t–not right now, at least. Until we are on even footing economically and politically with the people who continue to hold the power nationally and globally, and until we have overcome the legacy of slavery, we need to take a conservative stance when it comes to marriage and parenting.

    I keep thinking about all the crime that is happening in our hometown Chicago, and the fact that a disproportionate number of these crimes are being committed by black youth, most of whom probably have no father around and very little parental involvement from their most likely single mother. It breaks my heart. I can’t even blame this kids (even though it makes me angry to read about what they are doing). An entire generation of black children born out of wedlock. Think about that. Most of these children are being groomed for jail from the time they exit their mother’s womb.

    I am the daughter of a single mom. So, I’m not coming to this topic from an elitist, biased perspective. I was fortunate enough to come from a non-American culture where the whole family steps in when it comes to caring for a child. So, while I didn’t have a dad, I gained two other parents (grandmother and aunt) plus my mom, who collectively made sure I went to the best schools, had the best education, and was more than provided for. I defied the statistics. My situation is an anomaly. I quietly observed my surroundings and decided at a young age that I was NOT going to be found in my mother’s situation. And I did everything possible to make that happen, including postponing having sex for the first time until I was two months away from graduating college. I was always and continue to be very strategic about my boyfriends/sexual partners (which means that I have had very little compared to other women) because I knew that having a child as a single person would not benefit me.

    So, we can keep dismissing these statistics and shun what people like Christelyn are saying, and continue to watch incarceration, crime, and murder rates in the black community increase to alarming levels. Or we can act strategically, in a way that will benefit ourselves individually and as a community in the long run. Call me elitist or what have you but I’m choosing the latter.

  2. By the way, I liked that post from the Good Men Project. Now, where are these brothers and why aren’t they checking for me? LOL. Because I am not looking for a man “making Audi money”, just someone who is extremely hard-working and driven, employed, childless, and highly educated. Is that too much to ask for? (Where do black men get these erroneous ideas about educated black women? *sigh*)

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