Message to Stanford U Law Professor: Marriage is NOT Just for White People

BY: - 3 Sep '11 | Home

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by Sophia A. Nelson, Esquire

Statement from Author & Women’s Advocate Sophia A. Nelson, Esquire:

A new book written by Stanford University Professor Ralph Richard Banks titled, Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone (in stores this September) is causing quite the stir.   The provocative, headline-grabbing book (ironically inspired by former DC school teacher Joy Jones about her conversation with an African-American sixth-grader who suggested that marriage was in fact for white people) uses United States Census Bureau Data to analyze marriage patterns and trends of “middle class blacks”.   The book comes to the controversial conclusion that black women (professional upwardly mobile black women being the most affected group by the so-called marriage gap) should turn away from black men and instead marry out-side of their race (emphasis on turning to white men).

Let me be unequivocal as someone who just wrote a top-selling, award nominated non-fiction book (riddled with groundbreaking never before done research and expert analysis) about the lives of 21st Century black women (which included black men in that research as well as white men and women, Latinos) that Professor Banks is just dead wrong in his analysis and conclusions. There is NO silver bullet for Black Women in America to address the “marriage gap”-“wealth gap”-“health gap”-“love gap”-“Wellness gap”-“Career gap”. PERIOD. Dating white men, is the least of what will save us as black women and give us the fulfilling lives we seek.

Bank’s book like many others before it, once again uses a provocative title, that draws the attention of the mainstream white media, major news outlets and radio to signal that something is broken and amiss with black love, black relationships and black families.   It is not. In our study a full 33% of black men and women were happily married, thriving, raising their kids and building lives together.   The truth is this: There can be no meaningful analysis of marriage trends between black men and women without dealing with the total experience of black people in this new generation and over the past 40 years.

What ails black women, is what ails all of us in the black community.   Lack of financial resources to help our families, lack of equal opportunity in the workplace, lack of self love and care, lack of spiritual connectedness, lack of healing, lack of forgiveness, and lack of belief in ourselves that we can be together as black men and women, build families, and build communities as our ancestors did under the pain of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights era.   The majority of us in the black community are not middle-class and not well educated.   And Banks is right to consider what is going on with those of us who are in the “professional” class.   My book, like Bank’s book narrowly focuses on the black educated middle class (for me it was women) because it seems to be the demographic struggling most with healthy dating, lifestyles, and marriage. Professional black women are the most talked about, studied, and ironically invisible group of women in the United States.

Where Banks goes amiss is that, unlike what I wrote in “Black Woman Redefined” he does not get to the WHY black relationships may be in peril, and he does NOT offer a real tactical and meaningful way OUT of the situation at hand for black men and women.   This is where we part company.

 

1. Our families and children are at stake and although I write in chapters four and five of my book   that black women must indeed expand our dating options ( I am in love with someone Male and Caucasian)-I am not prepared to, nor would I ever suggest that we should “abandon” black men, lower our standards, date “beneath” ourselves, or worse.

 

2. To suggest that we do so means we are giving up on 400 years of history and I cannot sign on to that.

 

3. Moreover, to suggest that if sisters date out the race, brothers will come running back to us is silly at best.   Our issues as black women must be addressed outside of whatever is going on with black men.

 

4.   Fact: we as black women despite our many successes are still trying to deal with low self-image, anger issues, sexual abuse and abandonment issues with our fathers, obesity, depression, and more that runs much deeper than what Banks is peddling for his 15 minutes of fame and media attention.

 

If the black community wants to have a serious discussion about how we care for, tend to, and heal our broken relationships, family structures and the like, Black Woman Redefined and a host of other well written, positive, affirmational, instructional books are the place that discussion can and should begin.   As for Professor Banks, I am disappointed that someone with so much to offer is offering our children and young people an outlook that is bleak, negative, and damaging to the future of the black family.

 Sophia A. Nelson, Esquire is a journalist and author of the new non-fiction book, “Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama (Benbella May 2011).

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10 WordPress comments on “Message to Stanford U Law Professor: Marriage is NOT Just for White People

  1. David Hutchinson

    You first have to realise what marriage is for. Imagine life without marriage. Your woman/man would be fair game. There would be no guarantee of order or secure structure for children. While life is actually like that for the most part folks respect the tradition of marriage. Marriage is a force of peace and order in the world. It forces folks to realise the true function of a contract and that there are extreme and profound consequences in breaking that contract. Marriage should stop disease by making you conscious of infidelity. it’s a healthy institution. Imagine you and getting together and then going on to the next person and the next person. You getting pregnant and having my child with no consequences because marriage doesn’t exsist. And when was the last time someone refused sex with you because they told you they had an STD. Marriage is not just for White people it’s a natural bastion of order for all people.

  2. David Hutchinson

    You first have to realise what marriage is for. Imagine life without marriage. Your woman/man would be fair game. There would be no guarantee of order or secure structure for children. While life is actually like that for the most part folks respect the tradition of marriage. Marriage is a force of peace and order in the world. It forces folks to realise the true function of a contract and that there are extreme and profound consequences in breaking that contract. Marriage should stop disease by making you conscious of infidelity. it’s a healthy institution. Imagine you and getting together and then going on to the next person and the next person. You getting pregnant and having my child with no consequences because marriage doesn’t exsist. And when was the last time someone refused sex with you because they told you they had an STD. Marriage is not just for White people it’s a natural bastion of order for all people.

  3. Dancemonkeys

    No thanks to white men. Has anyone every addressed the kind of racism you can almost always expect to encounter with dating a white man – from him or from his family. The least racist white man will have an underdeveloped annoying understanding of race and will make the dumbest comments. I know this from a lot of experience. Give me a brother anyday….they relate better, look better and feel better.

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  5. Briana Myricks

    The fact that there’s been so much debate about why black women are the new “undesirable” and how we can’t find good men, don’t get married, let our careers get in the way, contain drama, baggage, etc has been absolutely EXHAUSTING and a little frightening. I was blessed enough to find a young black man early in life and we tied the knot. I don’t find myself to be any better than the other sistas out there, getting their grind on. I don’t think hubby is “better than” the brothas out there doing the same thing. It’s just frustrating that so many of us get grouped into such a negative stereotype. Hopefully things will change, but the amount of media that this “problem” gets (with books like Is Marriage for White People) starts planting seeds into the heads of people who may have previously considered a healthy relationship, regardless of race/color.

  6. Anonymous

    Black women are not undesirable. Black men are the undesirables. Black women have been hard on Black men when the statistics indicate society is against them. They are against the stereotypes that have stuck hard and fast even today. Look at how they are portrayed in movies and commercials as oversexed, violently strong, drug addeled and wanting White women as an ultimate prize. Black men always have to try harder because they are deficient by stereotypical design. If a Black woman took a Black man in she’d be constantly waiting for the next shoe to drop. Showin’ his true colors. Statistically Black men have higher unemployment and lower educational goals met. It’s hard to get over those factors and feel creditable.

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  8. Chas1good2

    the media has been promoting interracial relationships to african americans for nearly 20 years now, with the last 5-10 years being the most extreme in this campaign. ever wonder why? the welfare state and liberalism is what killed the black family. so why isn’t that being addressed? it seems there’s an agenda here, and it’s not about helping black women, black men, or the black community.

  9. Ousoonersocal

    Sophia Nelson is in complete denial. Ralph Banks new book is logical, statistically accurate, and I have seen first hand how lonely Father’s Day is in the Black Community. Sophia caps her diatribe by commenting she loves and  is married to a white man. I rest my case. The proof of the pudding.

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My Trip To LA To Help End Child Hunger

BY: - 6 Sep '11 | Home

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Thanks to my roll as a ConAgra Blogger Correspondent I recently participated in a trip to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. We got a tour of the facility and a real understanding of how they along with other food banks across the U.S. are making a direct impact in the fight to end child hunger. During the trip we actually did some hands-on work of sorting through tomatoes that would be given to local food pantries later in the week. The following day we helped raise awareness for the cause by packing bags full of food donated by ConAgra at the corner of Hollywood & Highland steps from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. We were joined by a mix of celebrities including Mark Salling who plays “Puck” on the show Glee. Below are some pics that I took along with some things that I learned along the way. Check my earlier post to learn how you can help in your community.

Inside of the LA Regional Food Bank

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Most people don't realize the severe need that food banks have during the summer months as well. Many children who depend on school lunches for nutrition go hungry during summer months so please donate during these times as well.

Disclaimer: I am a member of ConAgra’s blogger correspondent team for the Child Hunger Ends Here Campaign. While I do receive some compensation for the time, work and effort I put into this campaign it in no way compromises the work that I do in association with this project on behalf of the community.

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Lamar Tyler wrote 2229 articles on this blog.

Lamar Tyler is co-creator BlackandMarriedWithKids.com. He also is the co-producer of the films Happily Ever After: A Positive Image of Black Marriage, You Saved Me, Men Ain't Boys and Still Standing.

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