Black Women: Why is the Wall Street Journal, and the media, still talking about our marriage prospects?

I liked this comment by Daphne so much, I made it a separate post. Check out the following.

Regarding the WSJ* article making the rounds:

I found it bizarre that this was in the The Wall Street Journal*, just like I thought it was bizarre there was a similar article about black women in The Economist** several months (maybe a year?) ago. To me, it reeks of “let us observe these strange creatures known as black women,” similar to zoo animals.

Plus, the author’s subtext is disturbing: more black women should marry out, to potentially improve the rates of black marriage. To me, marriage is a non-sequitur in this context, particularly given that some serious cultural issues aren’t magically repaired by marriage (i.e. ability and desire to provide, being an effective father, knowing HOW to maintain a relationship). I mean, I’d hate for a black woman to have her black man propose primarily because he’s afraid of her being taken off the market rather than….wait for it, actually wanting to be married and prepared for that stage. Not to mention how unfair it is for a non-black man to be a consolation prize because a black man isn’t available or willing to marry. But hey….as long as they’re married, I guess.

I get the supply/demand, economics side of it: more black women date out, fewer are available to black men, black men step up their game. Which is fine, for future generations, I suppose. But for the women NOW who want the best partner for them, it’s entirely possible that even willing black men aren’t the best partners because of the aforementioned cultural issues.

I also give the side-eye to any author who misuses statistics, which the WSJ author did in a major way. That 70% of unmarried black women? Includes widows and the divorced. It is also includes age 15 and up. You would think a law professor would either dig a little deeper with the stats or be more more precise in using them.

Now, I’m not denying cultural differences between whites and blacks with the marriage rate. But it’s certainly convenient for these article to throw out that 70%, as if nobody wants da po’ black woman. Not to mention using the quotes of THREE black women as representative of the majority. And when you correct for college education, the marriage disparity between black and white women is significantly smaller.

Thank you for the contribution and sparking this post, Daphne. πŸ™‚


That article does have an air of “What can we do about these black women no one wants?”, right? πŸ˜€

As far back as the 1990s, perhaps even earlier, the NY Times periodically ran articles about the large number of college educated unmarried black women without children along with the high rate of out-of-wedlock births of single black women.

The angle changes somewhat, but it still has the familiar reek of: Black women’s relationships are a problem for society. Although I suspect they really mean, Black women’s existence is a problem for society.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Breaking It Down

You did a terrific job of nailing what’s wrong with the WSJ article. It’s not doing us any favors, but it wasn’t meant to anyway. This article insults a number of people, but the main recipients are black women and white men.

Imagine if there was a shortage of marriageable partners for white men, and black women were offered up as the last choice, second rate hope for them, because it would improve their group’s prospects with other, or the same race of, women? Even though they purportedly have a white woman shortage.

Say, what kind of logic is that?

  1. Logic that reinforces a negative image of black women. So, no surprise a black man wrote that article for a major newspaper that reaches around the world. Anything for a couple of dollars to denigrate black women is not a hard task for some black men. Regardless of how well meaning he thinks is.
  2. The logic is to continue presenting black women as racially, socially and bizarrely backward thinking: we’re worried about our HAIR, the complexions of our children, and our inability to be comfortable with non-black men. Oh, what superficial, silly, non-normal, non-female creatures we are. We are still “othering” ourselves. Those selected black women presents an image of people living in a self-imposed prison who lack any sense to free themselves of it.
  3. The logic used is a sneaky backhanded method of blaming black women for the lower rate of black marriage compared to other racial groups. The author cannot directly say that black women must do the asking, since to a mainstream audience it would be outside the norm and viewed as ridiculous. Instead, he indirectly makes the case for marrying non-black men, again like we could make them marry us somehow, to prompt black men into asking.

The key ingredient missing from the entire WSJ article is, What makes a black woman happy? What would make her feel good? What are the ways to approach her if she appears socially remote? Examples of their femininity, their normalcy, or exotic allure, would be enticing to the non-blackΒ  men reading the WSJ to look at black women positively. It would peal away at least one thin layer of separation between black women and non-black men.

However, making black women attractive, approachable and normal was not the intention of the article.

As you’ve noted, Daphne, the actualΒ  purpose is: How do we eventually get black men to do X, Y, and Z? Because it always has to be about them, beginning, middle and ending. People need to let that go and forget about closing the barn door.Β  The horse that ran out is now a great-great-grand mare to her offspring. Black men cannot be cajoled, conned or bribed into marrying black women, especially when they have no desire or interest to do so.

Black women have to be happy on their own terms.Β  I’d respect the mainstream media if there were more articles pertaining to black women, without the insincere hand-wringing, making their own decision to integrate intimately with non-black men: by working with, making friends with, dating and marrying them. And solely for their own benefit.



* The Wall Street Journal – An Interracial Fix for Black Marriage

** The Economist Article – Print Edition – Sex and the single black woman

** The Economist Article – Blog – The unintended consequences of mass incarceration



37 thoughts on “Black Women: Why is the Wall Street Journal, and the media, still talking about our marriage prospects?”

  1. Great Post! I think it is high time that American black women treat anything said by black males be it in print or other forms of media with extreme caution. When black men are talking to you or about you in the media put on your metaphorical hazmat suits because 9 times out of 10 it is going to be toxic. Sadly, that leads me to the conclusion that black women should just go ahead and ignore anything that these witless males have to say.

    One would think with the countless negro males in prison, on drugs or dying of aids, these so-called good black men would have their hands full.

    There are some comments on Halima’s blog that also offer some very great insight into the reasoning behind these “black women articles.”

    GoldenAh: Trish, you hit the nails on the head. Love this phrase – metaphorical hazmat suits! Exactly. As to your main point, Yeah, why worry about us? We will figure it out, at least we go to school and try to pull ourselves together. As you say, wouldn’t these good black men have their hands full taking care of “brothas” in jail if they really cared so much? Couldn’t have said it better.

    Thank you for your comments. πŸ˜€

    Halima has two great posts:
    My Advice to black women who want to get their lives on track and fast!
    Here is something revolutionary

  2. Eh, I didn’t think it was awful. Had some good points and a not very flattering image of AA women. Basically, I thought it was a promotion for his book. Sort of the bougie, upmarket, companion to Steve Harvey’s book, which I haven’t read.

    The only thing which I completely disagreed with him on is using, or more likely, hoping that interracial marriage/dating will act as leverage that will positively impact intraracial marriage and dating. I really have to part ways with anyone peddling the idea that anything AA women do will make AA men collectively invest in their communities.

    GoldenAh: No, definitely not awful. Just useless. πŸ˜€

    Hey, it’s a moneymaking thing to examine us. I get it. The community angle doesn’t work. Black women have to worry about their own love lives, not look at how it impacts others. That puts us back in a box we need to get out of.

    Thanks for the feedback, Anaya526.

  3. All I can say is that when a bm gives bw advice it’s never really meant to actually help us.

    GoldenAh: True. True.

    Glad to hear from you, StarDust.

  4. “What about the [black women] who are open minded, trying really really hard, and are getting nowhere? Especially when you know of an unattractive Becky, Sue Li, and Maria who have no trouble attracting men.

    I say that to mean, if they are less attractive in personality and looks – ’cause that is the hammer everyone likes to beat BW with – what would be the real hold up of men not approaching BW?”

    I know I said I would try to be optimistic in my previous response, but my cynical response to your question is: no matter what, Becky, Sue Li, and Maria are, ultimately, not black women. It makes me wonder if the conclusion to be drawn is that, no matter the ugly personality or the ugly appearance, a non-black woman will trump a black woman in terms of desirability. Every. Single. Time.

    I have a good friend. She’s Latina, petite, bubbly personality, outgoing, ambitious, and, I say very objectively, a catch. Early last year (well, actually maybe starting in the autumn of 2009), a black man that she knows socially turned an eye towards her. I remember when she and I were talking about him, she told me that he’d said (jokingly–and I rolled my eyes after she explained the “joke”) something along the lines of, “I’ve been on the brink of giving up Latina women, too, because of y’all’s attitude.” This was a man who’d “given up” black women (like we’re some sort of vice, I guess).

    And I told my friend–“See, this is why black men like him annoy the fuck out of me.” And it’s true; I’d seen him around socially and his only interactions were with Latina women and white women, and from that, I knew what time it was. I didn’t really have the heart to explain to my friend all the reasons why that man sucked, but my other friend (the one I mentioned in my previous response) and I talked about it.

    Essentially, what this guy had said to my Latina friend (and maybe what she didn’t get because of how subtle it was) was that, non-black women could display the same traits that black men like him accuse black women of having, and it wouldn’t mattter. As long as the non-black woman was a non-black woman, all the negatives that he associates with black women would still not be enough for him to “give up” his pursuit of non-black women.

    So, if non-black men are taking their cues from black men (and, goodness, I really hope they’re not!), then something like that could very well be a reason why some non-black men don’t approach black women.

    GoldenAh: The other women do get the benefit of the doubt. I’ve known men who sound amazed when they said, “Wow, you are nice.” Huh? I try not to think on it too deeply, but I realize we’re damned before we even say a word. πŸ˜€

    I remember back in college a white guy told me that the only thing he knew about black people was what he viewed on television. Ouch. Today, it’s likely the impressions have gotten worse.

    I find myself a wee bit doubtful about IR surveys, which indicate white men are very open to IR. I’d like to see better breakouts by race. I suspect the inclusion of “secondary white women”, Latinas and Asians, skews the racial acceptance. I bet the men mean all women are suitable, with a much lower acceptance rate for black women. However, it doesn’t keep it me away from IR, I’m just realistic about the odds.

    Some black males have such sick twisted feelings about black women, I sincerely believe they are mentally ill. πŸ˜€

    I’m never certain what goes through the mind of other men when it comes to black women. Some claim they aren’t listening to black men. Others claim we are “intimidating”. Others don’t want to be hassled, which means they are well aware that society lets all the other IR couples alone, but there is still some public “funk” over BW/WM. I wonder why it is a jaw dropping issue in this day and age, while others can run around without any drama.

  5. The logic is to continue presenting black women as racially, socially and bizarrely backward thinking: we’re worried about our HAIR, the complexions of our children, and our inability to be comfortable with non-black men

    Hi Goldenah, I will take a slightly different angle. The problem is that bw on the whole are socially and bizzarely backward thinking lol!

    Apart from the few of us particulalry those to be found in BWE blogosphere, the vast majority of bw are still in some funny place in their attitudes and beliefs as pointed out by the examples of the author. Their attitudes do necessitate these kinds of enquiries because everyone is thinking ‘what is going on here.’

    it’s irritating to admit it i know even i have a hard time, and sometimes want to defend the image of bw but i think there is something to the points of the WSJ article at least as broad sweep points or on a general level. Now i dont know about the intentions of this black man and yes maybe he is not even trying to do a bit to help our image, but that might be because he wants to use shock tactics for what he sees as the hard headed bw, who should have figured all this out without having to be told, and no i dont trust any bm as far as i can throw them!

    also re IR dating helping bw date more bm, i think this is simply pointing out that working with and not against such economic laws as demand and supply etc can confer some sanity on and improve the general black marriage market. Just like the economies in the west can respond to stimulus, austerity, currency devaluation etc etc to bring about a better economic climate, I also think that bw taking themselves out of ‘surplus’ category and showing they are not a cornered market will drive up their value in the eye of bm (and all men actually) and it will be something beneficial for those who will want to have the option to date bm!

    Now I am not even one bit worried about bm myself but i think the general devaluation of bw is not helping bw -as khadija noted- married to bm who are finding that this devaluation is following them into their marriages with bm (bw having to be bread winners or running themselves ragged while their black partners kick back). I should add that this is one particular reason why i dont hold out hope for bw with bm because the devaluation of bw now follows them into the relationships itself where they have to now ‘compensate’ these bm by being exceptional or coming loaded down with gifts and attributes etc etc yet these men bring nothing worth mentioning.

    GoldenAh: Hello Halima! I hope you safe in the UK. Seeing the riots over there was very disturbing.

    I see your points. I agree with them. However, based on the kind of paper the WSJ is, the black women readers are likely to be well educated, moderate to upper income types, business-like minded, and relatively tiny. Therefore, the majority are wealthy, higher educated, upper income white, and other non-black, men.

    It seems as though that article was speaking to us, but it was not. I’m sure the book will be picked up by various kinds of black women, but this excerpt or article was selected on purpose. He talked about black women from this angle: can’t find a marriage partner, can’t keep their same-race marriage partner, because he’s not of the same “class”, and included three black women with racial issues (that may or may not be resolved with the right non-black man) and they will become the standard-bearer for all of us.

    If the article was intended to shock black women, the hammer needs to be put down. I know black women who have the same issues displayed in the article and then some. For them, and if not most black women, black men are crack-kryptonite. It doesn’t matter how many statistics, how many discussions, how many shrinks, how many psychics, or friends try – they will NOT get BW to look past the “brothas”, and notice that our western societies are teeming with the best men on earth. And I’ll say that again: the best men on earth are right here in front of us. I don’t think they’ll ever see the forest for the trees, and my response is to shrug. Okay. Bye. Have a nice life. πŸ˜€

    I wish I could give the author the benefit of the doubt, but if he was trying to “help” then he had a funny way of showing it. Based on the audience, I don’t find fault with the theoretical economic machinations. However, I’m thinking about the men reading the article. I know we’re going to say we don’t care about their opinion, everyone knows we’re odd, but I believe in putting the best foot forward.

    If the author truly and sincerely wanted to increase our IR marriage rates to benefit black marriage over all – he needed to write about the advantages of marrying black women. Right? If he felt that keenly about black women, he could have waxed poetically on just how lovely, giving and wonderful they are…. He knows already how black women put 210% into relationships with worthless black men. He couldn’t shine that light on how giving they are?

    ‘Cause, if you want to sell something, you talk about the awesomeness of it, not how much it sucks, not how much it breaks down, and not how flawed the product is. He contradicted his argument. The needle of black marriage won’t budge if he was looking to make a difference. The article lacked balance: he couldn’t even bother finding an interracial couple as positive re-enforcement.

    So, what he wrote does nothing, except resume with putting a hammer to black women. And in my eyes, it’s another full of bull-stuffing article. πŸ˜€

    The truth of the matter is: black men don’t want to marry black women, and those black men who pretend to care about us don’t want non-black men marrying us either.

    Great hearing from you, Halima. Enjoyed the feedback. πŸ˜€

  6. Jezebel’s take on it was no better.

    GoldenAh: I love how black men and white women are such experts when it comes to black women. They know so much about us, we don’t even need to speak. They do all the talking, and it usually turns into being all about them. πŸ˜€

    This is the most interesting quote from Becky-Has-All-The-Answers:

    One might think that it would make sense to examine the factors- economic, social, cultural- that lead to black men being locked up for a long period of time and acknowledge that the difficulty that black women have in finding a romantic partner is a sad side effect of a set of depressing circumstances; a crap cocktail of institutionalized racism in the legal system as well as culturally enforced standards of beauty that idealizes European features. We could use the suffering of black women and, by extension, the black American family, as a starting point in a discussion about reforming law enforcement and the American penal system, as well as cultural attitudes about beauty and attraction.

    Or, we could just tell black women that they should just start going out with white guys. Yes, black ladies: white men will solve all your problems.

    Well, now. How about I just say, Yes, white men will solve all of our problems. Unlike black men, ’cause according to Becky they are obsessed with European features, white men are more open to marriage to black women. It may not be an overwhelming amount, but statistically it’s more than enough to satisfy our relationship needs.

    As for all those black men being in jail? Not my problem. It’s a shame when it happens, the kids and woman involved may be hurting, but there’s no collective misery coming from black men being in jail. It just lowers the crime rate in affected areas. I’d say that it is the victim(s) and community whose pain is alleviated.

    Funny how the “suffering” of black women is of keen interest to her. It doesn’t surprise me that the only thing we are good for is “using.” If Becky wants to solve those social justice cultural economic issues, more power to her, but every black man’s problem is not, by default, a black woman’s problem.

    Whether this writer realizes it or not, black women (and men) have been, and still are, the most open to interracial relationships. The following is from Pew research:

    … blacks who live in the West are three times as likely to out-marry as are blacks who live in the South and twice as likely as blacks in the Northeast or Midwest…. More than seven-in-ten blacks (72%) say it would be fine with them if a family member chose to marry someone who was white, Hispanic or Asian.(Pew – IR Marriages)

    So all this “da po’ black woman don’t like or want IR” is just blah blah blah crap. πŸ˜€

    Thanks for the link, Bellydancer. πŸ™‚

  7. Interestingly enough, my girlfriend and I were discussing this article a couple days ago. Her immediate response was, “Yet another article with no effin’ answers.”

    The only thing that article posited was that most black men (especially the ones who have their ish together) will always think that the grass is greener on the other side. So, apparently we’re supposed to wait, hold out, and all that jazz until they decide that they’re good and ready to marry us. *eye roll* Or wait for them to be so blinded by jealousy that generations of black women are marrying non-black men that they (black men) finally start looking our way. Or, we’re supposed to bite the bullet and hold out for that non-black man to approach us…or better yet, approach them as a means of galvanizing black men?

    Which is another thing. I don’t know if my views are skewed by where I live (DC area) or if my friend’s views are skewed by where she lives now and used to live (DC and Atlanta, respectively), but the non-black men aren’t exactly approaching black women in droves around these parts, either. While my friend and I were in agreement on that, where she and I diverged was that she firmly believes that while the non-black man would have no issues flirting with or even sleeping with a black woman, he’d be more than hesitant to ever bring the woman home to mom. I try to be a bit more optimistic in that regard, but it can be hard. *Kanye shrug*

    In any case, I’m certainly in agreement that your suggestion for the article (i.e., talk about what makes black women great catches) is what should have happened.

    Lastly, I’m in so much agreement with Daphne about the statistics that were spat out. In general, I’m wary of numbers when there is no source to back them up and when they are used to conveniently mislead in order to fit a writer’s hypothesis.

    GoldenAh: You perfectly summarized the article: What can be done to get black men to do something? There really was no loving concern for black women’s well being.

    You bring up something that I haven’t read anywhere. Okay, everybody likes to focus on the black women who want nothing-but-a-black-man. What about the ones who are open minded, trying really really hard, and are getting nowhere? Especially when you know of an unattractive Becky, Sue Li, and Maria who have no trouble attracting men.

    I say that to mean, if they are less attractive in personality and looks – ’cause that is the hammer everyone likes to beat BW with – what would be the real hold up of men not approaching BW?

    So, what are we supposed to do with that reality? Continue to read silly articles that have no basis in reality? It takes a lot of work to date and start a relationship. We are always being asked to sacrifice more than anyone. But I have news for them, we’s gotta eat first, and sometimes the job has to take precedence. And not everyone can get up, run around this country, or to another one just to “get a man.” πŸ˜€

    Thank you for the thought provoking comments, African Violet. πŸ™‚

  8. I didn’t read the article and I refuse to. The fact that a BM wrote it tells me all I need to know from all angles. The expected upside down thinking/actions DBR-ism aside…

    Umm were there no educated sistas available? Do white men ever comment in this way on WW’s issues? Do Asian men? Do Hispanic men?

    The fact that all these “other folks” are examining, thinking, feeling for and about BW and putting this trash out in society is making me feel some type of way emotionally.

    Umm do peeps think they own BW? They know we free right?

    Is this kind of like when Toure, C. West and Rev AL get on MSNBC and speak for all Black People as black leaders without a vote from the black people meeting?

    I am kinda hot at this practice. How are all these folks supposed to know/comment about us?

    GoldenAh: I have no respect for an author writing about BW like we’re a problem. I don’t care which way it is framed. He wants to make his money, and for some reason “Black women and Marriage” is a hot topic.

    I don’t like articles with a point of view that we can MAKE men come GET US. It could work, but they would need to stop reinforcing all this negativity about us. If someone in the mainstream media sincerely wanted to increase marriage rates of black women, then they are obligated to push the positives about us. We do have selling points, but that was left out to continue to point at “our issues”.

    Black women are not portrayed as the “desirable woman next door” like white women (and now Latinas and Asians) are EVERY SINGLE DAY. If we were, then I could see what they mean if they ask, Why aren’t more men after BW?

    But he’s got the cart before the horse.

    Great to hear from you, Oshun!! πŸ˜€

  9. Hello Miss Betty,

    I read the article and I just felt neutral about it. All this calculus about relationships seems silly to me. And OF COURSE, your commentary is so refreshing. Although I don’t think the article is about hating on the black woman (just marketing another book), I do LOVE all your comments about why don’t articles like this focus on what would make us happy and how can others reach out to us if you they want to. I am feeling lonely today, and this post just reminds me to ignore the J-U-N-K and give myself the TLC I give to others ….

    GoldenAh: Hello Sherry! Glad to hear the post reminded you to stay smiling and take good care of yourself. πŸ™‚

    You are right about all these odd machinations black women should make to ultimately benefit other people. Strange article.

    I hoped to avoid sounding too heated. I’m actually hot-plate warm. πŸ˜€

  10. Thanks for the comment highlight, Goldenah! But more importantly, thank you for this great post. You rock, Goldenah. πŸ™‚

    I learned something new today, as I didn’t realize the NY Times published similar articles as early as the 1990s. Wow, just wow.

    And you know what really burns my cookies? When we (as black women) perceive these articles as validation. Maybe I’m just cynical and jaded, but it’s old hat for certain groups to undercut us. I don’t expect the black male collective to put us in the best light. I don’t expect the white collective, including mainstream media, to do so. When other black women take these kinds of articles as a positive? That’s what blows my mind.

    I was thinking on this further last night, and you read my mind here:

    The key ingredient missing from the entire WSJ article is, What makes a black woman happy? What would make her feel good? What are the ways to approach her if she appears socially remote? Examples of their femininity, their normalcy, or exotic allure, would be enticing to the non-black men reading the WSJ to look at black women positively. It would peal away at least one thin layer of separation between black women and non-black men.

    YES. These media outlets know EXACTLY what they’re doing here, and they could choose to do the above. Yet, what do we get? Pathology. The pathological othering of black women.

    Not to mention the audacity, the unmitigated gall to use confirmation bias by throwing out “statistics” (which curiously, the data source in the WSJ article wasn’t noted – I wonder why?). You know, gotta give the academic slant for the intellectuals. I swear…..the blatant distortion of statistics is gonna give me high blood pressure. I will find the links to the actual data to share with your readers and post it later when I find them. Knowledge is power, and I’m tired of people with their agendas, dragging black women through the mud! Dang it!

    GoldenAh: You are welcome, Daphne! I thank you, and as always, glad to have you there giving me something to think about. πŸ˜€

    I think some BW see the “get married” encouragement, but miss the other stuff going on in the article.

    Yeah, NY Times has been writing about us going way back. There’s hardly an article written about black women and marriage that isn’t incredibly dire. It’s old news.

    Post the links whenever you feel like it. πŸ™‚

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