Marriage is For White People

BY: - 20 May '09 | Relationships

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by Mocha Dad

In 2006, The Washington Post published an op-ed essay by writer Joy Jones with the provocative headline “Marriage Is for White People.” The headline didn’t reflect Jones’ views; it repeated what one of her students told her when she taught a career exploration class for a predominantly black group of sixth-graders.

If you look at the statistics on marriage, you’d be inclined to agree. While 62 percent of white adults and 60 percent of Latino adults are married, only 41 percent of black adults are. Even worse, more than 70 percent of African American children are born outside of marriage.

The familial structure in the  African American community has been severely damaged. It has gotten to the point that a mother is considered essential in a family, but a father is optional or expendable. I have several friends and family members who are parents and are either divorced or have never been married. It breaks my heart every time one of my single friends shares the good news of her pregnancy with me. While I want to be happy for her, all I can think about is the difficulties she will face as a single parent and the struggles the child will have without a father present.

Life without two parents in the household is tough. My parents divorced when I was young and my mother struggled to raise my sister and me by herself. However, my mother always taught us that marriage was a worthy pursuit even if hers didn’t work out. She proved her point by remarrying when I was a teenager and has been married ever since.

I have since realized that my mother was right. According to a 2002 study sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, married men and women tend to have lower mortality, less risky behavior, more monitoring of health, more compliance with medical regimens, higher sexual frequency, more satisfaction with their sexual lives, more savings and higher wages.

These facts have encouraged people like Maryann Reid, organizer of Marry Your Baby Daddy Day, to make marriage more common in the black community and throughout America.

“Most of our couples [getting married] are Black, because it is our community that has the highest out of wedlock rate of all groups,” Reid said. “However, the crippling family structure in this country is just not a Black issue, but a national one.”

While it true that the institution of marriage is under severe stress, I can emphatically say that marriage is not for white people. It’s for all people. I represent the 41% of black Americans who are married. My wife and I have enjoyed nearly 12 years of matrimony. And there are many more happily married couples just like us.

Stay Strong,
Mocha Dad

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  • Natalie

    Thank you, Thank you!

    I am a single, 31 year old woman who is very much aware that her biological clock is ticking. That being said, I have opted not to pursue becoming a single parent because of many of the statistics that you cited in your piece even though I can afford to parent a child on my own. It’s not only about economics, or health, it is about modeling a healthy a relationship for a child. In our community I believe that many of the issues that we encounter are due to lack of a family structure in the home; how can our children learn to respect one another once they enter into adult relationships if they have never seen that type of respect and love modeled? I am not knocking those that choose to pursue becoming a single parent; I know many single mothers that do an excellent job raising their children, but for me, knowing the benefits of marriage for those that are married, and more importantly for children born into those unions, being married is the only way that I will become a parent.

  • VEe!

    Honestly when I first read the article back in ’06 I was wondering what was the purpose of the article and why did the author decide to use the words of a child to sensationalize a social issue. What’s next “School is for White People?”

    I never heard a young adult or older adult utter the words Marriage is For White People or you’re acting white because you’re getting married.

    Articles can continue to play statistical math to prove a point or paint a grim picture, but in the end, “the crippling family structure in this country is just not a Black issue, but a national one.” Around the same time the NYTimes had an article highlighting the lives of professional young women who decided to forgo marrage, cohabitation citing many different reasons and the amount of opportunities that they enjoy that their mothers never had.
    The issue is definitely beyond race, word to Tom Brady.

    I’m a bit confused and startled, when you say “I have opted not to pursue becoming a single parent” are you talking about adoption or becoming a single parent through natural conception?

    VEe!s last blog post..The Silent Treatment

  • Jewelry Rockstar

    Yes, the Black Marriage is strong. Most everyone I know is married, and happy. Despite what statistics say, I know that marriage is for me and my African American friends and family. We are going strong at nearly 16 years!

    Jewelry Rockstars last blog post..Taurus Accolades!

  • Lamar

    @Jewelry Rockstar – Congratulations on the 16!!! Keep it going.

    @VEe- where did you get the adoption angle from?

    Lamars last blog post..Website Wednesday: Wedded Bliss Foundation

  • VEe!

    The adoption angle is based on her statement. Adoption and artificial insemination are other options that will allow a woman to become a single parent. I never heard-or read a statement like that before, so I’m thinking that if a woman wants to become a single parent then maybe they intend to produce the baby by methods that don’t directly involve a man.

    VEe!s last blog post..The Silent Treatment

  • Mocha Dad

    You should read the comments on my blog regarding this post. They are quite interesting.

  • Raven

    @ Mocha Dad –

    I believe Lester Spence (on your blog) provides the best explanation or response to this article. Aren’t we tired of this racial division crap? I sure am…I believe marriage is A CHRISTIAN THING, A GOD THING. Race does not have any real value when it comes to unions/marriages/relationships etc – unless of course, the parties involved are racist.

    *not saying that non-believers don’t marry –

  • Raven

    Marriage is for Man & Woman…to be married to each other – but that’s a different topic :-)

  • Anna

    I understand the statement the kid made that “marriage is for white ppl.” When kids don’t see any married ppl around them let alone those that look like them getting married, their perception has never been challenged nor do they have any example to compare. Our society makes it too easy to shack up because it’s acceptable.

  • AJAY

    Hooray! I’m glad to have found this site regarding black marraiges. I think we don’t get the respect or support we need.

  • Faith

    I understood what that child was saying. They don’t SEE marriage in their communities.

    I don’t thing the author of this post was trying to prove that black people shouldn’t be married , more than anything he quoted that child’s statement because it’s what’s seen.

    I also believe when the word “single” was said, it was meant as “single, not married. “