The Marriage Gap
IS MARRIAGE FOR WHITE PEOPLE? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone.
By Ralph Richard Banks.
Dutton. 289 pp. $25.95
Ralph Richard Banks borrows the provocative title of his book from an anecdote relayed by an African-American journalist who taught a class to a roomful of black sixth graders in Washington, D.C., a few years ago. When the journalist offered to invite married couples to speak to the students about raising children, one boy sneered, “Marriage is for white people.”
The black family has long been a topic of public discussion. In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in what became known as the Moynihan Report, famously described single-parent (and overwhelmingly female- headed) black families as a “tangle of pathology.” Today, black women are peculiarly unpartnered—as many as three out of 10 may never marry. With movies such as Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005) and Why Did I Get Married? (2007), black filmmaker Tyler Perry has built a fortune on the subject of black female loneliness and the precarious nature of relationships between black women and black men.
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Emily Bernard is an associate professor in the Department of English and the ALANA (African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American) U.S. Ethnic Studies Program at the University of Vermont. She is the editor of Some of My Best Friends: Writers on Interracial Friendships (2004). Her book A Portrait in Black and White: Carl Van Vechten and the Harlem Renaissance will be published next year.more from this author >>