Over the last few months when families were gathering for all types of occasions, some of the young men in our family refused to attend because of “so many divorced couples and so few new marriages.”
I was disappointed by their absence but understood their sentiments. Like many modern American families, we’ve had so many divorces now that one niece asked, “Is divorce a tradition in our family?”
How do you answer a question like this without getting into people’s personal business? It’s not like anyone planned on getting divorced or like all the divorces happened for the same reasons. Also, at least in our family, many of the divorcees have moved on to successful second marriages.
I look around at all of our 20-somethings, though, and wonder what the future holds for them in terms of marriages, divorces, step-families and such. Whenever we get together now, someone is always asking, “When are we going to have another wedding?”
That recent Pew study that reported the number of married Americans 18 and older will probably drop below 50 percent in the next few years did not surprise me and when you add in the statistics on African-Americans, the future of marriages can seem somewhat bleak.
The Pew study went on to say that the recession seems to have made many men shy away from marriage, because working class people of all colors still view marriage as at least partly an economic consideration.
Depending on one’s source of information, African-American men are experiencing unemployment between 12 and 20 percent! Some researchers say that young adults, in general, are abandoning marriage while others say that they are simply postponing it until later because of their own experiences with divorced parents, because of more pressing career moves, and maybe because there is a greater tolerance for cohabitation in our society today.
Generally speaking, African-Americans are still considered very conservative and less tolerant of cohabitation, however, and when I discuss these issues with the young women in my own family, all of them would prefer pretty traditional marriages and family life.
These single women, mostly college educated, talked about the craziness of the dating scene and the dismal prospects for marriage, but when I shared with them an article someone sent me from the Root.com (August 2011), they had to agree with the assessment of author Jenee Desmond-Harris: the mainstream media’s analysis (of marriage in the African-American family) is divisive and defeatist.
Desmond-Harris cites the research of two scholars from Howard University and Morehouse. These scholars, Toldson and Marks, are on a mission to tear down the myths that have consumed the Black community, and black women in particular, for years: there are not enough good black men to go around; most black men are either homosexual, incarcerated or “undesirable” (ie., unemployed) and if you’re highly educated, you might as well get used to being single.
According to Toldson and Marks’s research, 75 percent of black women get married before they turn 35 years old (“older” according to the Pew study), 36 percent of those with high school diplomas, 47 percent of those with bachelor’s degrees, 59 percent of those with master’s and 62 percent of those with doctorates.
As for the myth that there are about nine available black women for every one black man, Toldson and Marks reported that there was no actual data to support this. It’s simply been an urban myth floating around our communities for years and making men feel more empowered and entitled while making women feel insecure about their prospects for marriage.
As for black women being more educated than black men, yes, Toldson and Marks found this to be true in terms of college degrees, but more black men continue to earn over $75,000 a year and they are twice as likely as black women to earn more than $250,000.
Also, more than 80 percent of black men have black wives, despite many black women thinking that they are marrying more and faster “outside the race.”
Toldson and Marks encouraged people to 1) scrutinize the media carefully, 2) keep the dialogue about Black family marriages positive and 3) get rid of the self-hate language and the negative beliefs about ourselves.
I was so happy to find some actual research to back up what I’d been telling my daughters, nieces and cousins for years. If you want a good African-American man for your husband, you’ve got to believe that one is out there. Keep your options open; he may not come driving a Benz or in a suit and tie. You can’t fall for the myths and stereotypes.
Recently, I learned that our family can expect a couple new marriages in 2012! I can’t wait to tell the young men of the family that they’ll have more male company at family gatherings.
Last Saturday, Uncle Mooney and Aunt Elsie Washington celebrated their 60th anniversary with family and close friends.
Right around the corner from my house and just a few blocks away, 10-20 women have been meeting and working on their quilts for more than 10 years.
If the mayor does run again, she will play a major role in campaigning, because she enjoys urging people to get-out-the-vote, making them feel a part of something special and taking ownership.
It dawned on me the other day that I have completed my first year as an acweekly.com columnist. It’s been one of the best years of my life, a year that has forced me to challenge myself and grow as a writer.
Mrs. Elaine Milan is the perfect match for her husband, clearly intelligent, thoughtful and attractive. She had already graduated from Hampton University when she arrived in A.C. in 1964 to work at Indiana Avenue School, and later, she earned her master’s degree at Glassboro.
If you’ve never been to the Civil Rights Garden in Atlantic City, you should make it a point to drop by there and sit awhile. It is a contemplative place.
I asked some of the special people in my life why we should NOT make resolutions and got some funny and enlightening answers other than the obvious one — that many of us don’t keep them.
With grandparents from South Carolina, I felt a strong connection to the people of this Lowcountry area of the eastern U.S. when I visited years ago on a Gullah-Geechee tour.
Let’s set the record straight: Kwanzaa is truly African-American. It is NOT a religious holiday.
A real celebration of the life of Hassan Abdullah (aka Stanley Barber) took place on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 27, at Wash’s Inn in Pleasantville.
In a cozy purple sweater and gray sweatpants, the orange Mohawk was expertly coiffed as usual. I remembered attending her 75th birthday party a few years ago and knew then I wanted to hear her story from her own mouth, but she is one hard lady to catch up with.
The Polaris Development Group plans to revitalize Kentucky Avenue, as well as its historic and long-gone entertainment and eating establishments.
Jacob Lawrence Day in Atlantic City
Black History, Jazz and Poetry