The Life of a Ladybug

live with intention. walk to the edge. listen hard. practice wellness. play with abandon. laugh. choose with no regret. continue to learn. appreciate your friends. do what you love. live as if this is all there is. -mary anne radmacher

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Have Black people lost faith in marriage?

The other night, during the LIFE Ministry rap session (that's our young adult ministry, ages 18-30), our theme was, "Have Black people lost faith in marriage?" The moderator started the discussion by sharing these statistics: 61% of adult Whites are married, as are 60% of adult Hispanics. However, only 41% of adult Blacks are married. What makes the Black community so different and how have our attitudes about marriage changed? Of course, me being Mother Mouth Maybelle, I was the first to reply. I talked about the history of having families separated during slavery; of slaves being unable to legally marry and, even when they were offered the option of jumping the broom, lots of times, husbands and wives lived on separate farms; of married female slaves being "given" to males other than their husbands to breed with like animals, etc. Then I talked about economic issues and the phenomenon of the "strong Black woman." As soon as I said that, eyes started rolling and teeth sucking commenced. But, I believe this wholeheartedly - some of us have become so "strong" and independent, that we emasculate men. We give them no room to be strong themselves. We broadcast the "fact" that we don't need them. We give them no place in our lives. And also, we do ourselves a disservice when we take on such a "strong" image that we don't allow ourselves the privilege of weakness. Anyway, it was a really interesting, enlightening discussion from that point on. I'm glad we had it. I'm looking forward to more thought-provoking discussions. I don't think it's necessary for all Christians or all Black people to hold the same opinion on this, or any other, issue. But I think it's so helpful when we can come together and discuss the topics that are relevant to our community. So, if you want, go ahead and weigh in - what do you think? Have we (Black folk) lost faith in marriage? And, for my non-Black readers, what do you think about the state of marriage in our society (Black folk, you can weigh in on this one, too)?


At May 17, 2006 3:53 PM, Blogger Tonyette said...

OK, I'm not running for "comment queen" or anything, but I think that there is one thing that you said that really hit it on the least for I must say something ! I think that SO often, in this day and age, we (I'm including myself and it's something I'm FIGHTING to get out of!) try to be so strong and independent that we give off "I DON'T need a man" vibes!! So, no man looks our way! Then, in turn, we get bitter and wonder "WHY CAN'T I GET A MAN?!" I've been accused of it and I know it's true! I also think that because, speaking in general terms, Black women seem to be more "successful" than Black men these days and are getting into this "I only want a man with ___" thing, it's turning the Black men off and the Black women get left with no one! I'm NOT saying don't have standards, but...
I also think that the historical FACTS that you provided also have a great deal to do with it! Black people have almost been "trained" to not value marriage! Lastly, I think that we live in an "I can't go for that" generation and for the most part, it's a good thing. We stand up for certain things and reap the rewards, but then the kinds of things that our--Black women--great-grandmothers, grandmother and even mothers tolerated in a marriage, we act like we CAN'T deal with it! So, I think it's a combination of those things! (wow, another long one! I apologize!)

At May 17, 2006 4:43 PM, Blogger GC (God's Child) said...

I think a tiny part of the problem is the statistics don't account for why people aren't married. I'm sure Black men don't have the life expectancy White men do. Also, where do they place interracial couples?
I think that many Black men are not in a situation to consider marriage also: financially, legally, and emotionally.

At May 18, 2006 10:28 AM, Anonymous Mel said...

Talk about timely thoughts. I'm late reading your post, but yesterday morning Al Sharpton was on the Tom Joyner Morning Show talking about what Bill Cosby said at the Spellman graduation. From what I can tell, Mr. Cosby said that the graduates need to be prepared to go it alone because of the way Black men are lagging behind. Between the number of our brothers that are in prison, and the ones who aren't socioeconomically fit, and those who aren't emotionally prepared for the rigors of a good marriage, and those who...the list goes on, the fact is that pickings are slim. We need to walk the fine line between becoming the stereotypical strong Black woman who 'doesn't need a man' and one who's simply capable of surviving without one, else we risk turning into the pitiful sister who puts up with junk from a man who's not squat because she feels 'a piece a man is better than no man at all'. (My mom once told about a conversation she'd had with an older woman who said that to her!)

I wouldn't say that we've lost faith in marriage so much as that we've lost hope in marriage. What's the difference? I think we still believe in the ideals of marriage, but it's become this pie in the sky, pipe dream that seems unattainable. (And Tonyette was worried about her long post!)

At May 18, 2006 3:07 PM, Anonymous rachel said...

That is very interesting, Toya, I wasn't aware of that statistic and 20% is certainly a significant gap and worth exploring. What are some of the other theories, beside what you shared and what others have posted? I think another factor about marriage in general is just the fact that it isn't for everyone but there is a lot of social pressure to get married and "make it work." I think if more people just felt fine being single or having multiple partners or whatever arrangement worked for them, then maybe that would be fine. Personally, marriage is a wonderful option and a great fit for me, but people are all so different that I don't think it is for everyone. I also think it is possible to be a strong independent woman and be happily married-- heck, you are one fine example of that yourself! xo

At May 22, 2006 3:39 PM, Anonymous PhillyPhile said...

I just wanted to chime in on the discussion. In addition to the things that others have said, I think the lack of examples also influence the lack of marriages in the black community. When my parents divorced in 89 at age 10 I thought we were the last two-parent household left, literally.

Freshmen year of college I remember questioning a classmate on why both her mom and dad were coming to pick her up at the end of the semester, thinking that my parents would not be caught in the same room unless absolutely necessary. I remember being astounded when said that her parent were still married. I literally remember thinking “Wow! People still do that?” As if she said her mother does laundry with a washing board. I know my example may be extreme but I can’t be too far off of the pulse of my people.

There was a time when, if pregnant, a couple’s first reaction would be to wed. (Not saying that it’s the way things should be) I bet now, the thought doesn’t even cross people’s minds that a wedding should even be taken into consideration.

Lastly this whole NAS attitude that women are taking on, is doing a number on our people. When you start off thinking a guy ain’t s*** he will prove you right.

At May 23, 2006 6:14 PM, Blogger Ericka said...

I just enjoyed reading the comments. I want to be married! And there's my two cents. :)


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