Marriage has been a declining institution among all Americans and this decline is even more evident in the Black community. According to BlackDemographics.com, In 2014 only 29% of African Americans were married compared to 48% of all Americans. Half or 50% of African Americans have never been married compared to 33% of all Americans.
Fact: Black women receive more formal education than black men.
Fact: According to US Census statistics, In 2013 about 48% of Black men 25 and older attended college. Although half of them did not complete a degree.
Between 2009 and 2010, black women earned 68 percent of associate’s degree. 66% of bachelor’s degrees, 71% of master’s degrees and 65% of all doctorate degrees awarded to black students, vs black men. That is well over half of the black attendees. This means 7 of 10 black college graduates are black women.
How does this affect dating and relationships?
This leaves a huge disparity in educational levels, which can lead to various other issues.
According to research recently presented to the American Sociological Society, African-American women with advanced degrees are twice as likely to have never been married by the age of 45. Black women are also twice as likely to be separated, divorced or widowed.
While I do not believe education is the only reason for the disparity in black relationships, it is definitely a causality. Higher education traditionally leads to higher levels of success monetarily, and in one’s chosen career. You tend to be attracted to those who meet you at your professional level. Unfortunately, the harsh reality of dating is, some people will judge your worth, and/or dating potential by the degree(s) you hold (or don’t hold).
Ms. Kimberly Hill, President of ‘Future Insight’ says:
“Women in general tend to view men who have gotten further in their careers as more marriageable. They have more money, more status, more stability.”
Black women seemingly have high standards of prospective mates (and they should). While there are other factors that come into play in regards to the marital disparity such as:
- inordinate incarceration rates
- socioeconomic conditions
- child rearing patterns
- high unemployment rates in low-income communities
- economic deprivation
Although these factors may be true, the results are still the same. Marriage is at an all-time low in the black community.
“Oftentimes black women are encourageded to make choices about getting your education or getting married. When you go to professional schools, you’re encouraged to focus on your studies. To the neglect, sometimes, of personal relationships… says Professor Niambi Carter.
I think for one, I believe that women who have attained that level of status and (educational) achievement are very focused on their educational and career aspirations. Because we’ve had to focus, historically, so much on overcoming the barriers that have precluded us from advancement. It puts a lot of pressure on us to perform. As a result of that, I feel that we have, perhaps in some instances, may have become distracted from actively engaging in other areas of interest, including relationships.
At that time I went for an advanced degree, it (marriage) really was not on my mind. I was pretty young when I completed my master’s degree. So, as soon as I finished, my number one focus was getting a job, not so I could begin to repay the loans but really so I could begin to really enjoy life. So, marriage was not something that I thought about until much further in my career—and certainly thinking about right now.
Black women who have focused more on schooling and career vs. dating, relationships, and marriage, may find themselves in a bit of a quandary. To be fair to them, some feel that they have to choose relationship/marriage, or education, which isn’t at all fair (and a ton of pressure). In many cases, they choose education, and suppress their desires for a long-term relationship until later in their lives—but not until after they’ve become successful in the workplace. As a result, they may be in their mid-late 30’s. By the time they feel they are ready for a serious relationship. Again, this is more so for black women who have devoted themselves to education and career, vs. relationship building with the opposite sex with the intention of marriage.
Are black women living in fantasy land?
While there may be a dichotomy in the numbers based on when the research was conducted—these statistics are still very telling about marriage, education, and relationships within the black community. Do black women have to, “date down” or, “lower their standards” to realize their dreams of a successful marriage with an educated black man?
According to research conducted by The National Center for Education Statistics (see figure 1), in 2013-2014; 64% of black women achieved a bachelor’s degree. Versus. 36% of black men. These numbers become even more disproportionate the more advanced the degree (see figure 2).
Let’s Dive Into The Numbers
In a very poignant article written by Dawn Mouzon of the Scholar Strategy Network, she states:
“…it seems black men fall well short of women’s preferences.
In 2010, the Pew Research Center asked respondents to rate the importance of various factors when choosing a mate.
- Asked how important it is that a “good husband or partner provides a good income,” two-thirds of black women said it is very important. Compared to 32% of white women.
- Roughly 55% of black women said it was very important for a husband or partner to be well-educated. Compared to only 28% of white women.
- Half of black women said that financial stability should be an important precondition for marriage. Only a quarter of white women felt that way.
So what’s next?
“Open up your options.”
While I don’t disagree with interracial dating, or intermarriage, doing so because you can’t find a suitable partner in your own race seems like a frenzied reaction to an otherwise frustrating situation.
Think about it. If you were the white man that she chose, would you want to be option B, because she couldn’t find the black man she truly wants? As I outlined in my article about interracial dating, we need to be choosing our partners for the right reasons. Most of all, it should be organic.
I also believe that to be happy in a relationship, you do not need to marry someone who has the same educational level as you. In complimentary relationships, the two personalities balance each other (yin & yang).
Lastly, if we truly want to balance educational levels in the black community, and bridge the marital gap, it all starts with rearing and socialization. We also need to change the emphasis placed on sports, vs. education.
Do you want to go to college to play sports? All you need is a minimum score based on a sliding scale. That’s the message we send boys. We teach girls to be independent, and self-sufficient while emphasizing a focus on the highest levels of education. However, as in my post, ” Are You Raising Your Son To be The Very Man You Wouldn’t Date?” We coddle and carry our boys. Then we allow them to meet the bare minimum, as long as they graduate. This typically happens in single-parent households or parenting situations where the father is absent, or barely active in the son’s life.
For future generations, we need to start there.