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. 🙂


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

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-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.

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

As you’ve noted, Daphne, the actual  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.  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.  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