Check out these numbers from a recent study released by the Pew Research Center (and reported by The New York Times):
“…intermarriage among Asian, black, Hispanic and white people now accounts for a record 1 in 6 new marriages in the United States.”
“…black-white unions make up 1 in 60 new marriages today, compared with fewer than 1 in 1,000 back when Barack Obama’s parents wed a half-century ago.”
“…among newly married couples, 14.6 percent were mixed in 2008, compared with 11.2 percent in 2000 and 8.3 percent in 1990.”
“Of all 3.8 million adults who married in 2008, 31 percent of Asians, 26 percent of Hispanic people, 16 percent of blacks and 9 percent of whites married a person whose race or ethnicity was different from their own. Those were all record highs.”
Those are some awesome stats. Long story short, love is crossing racial boundaries more and more often. And within our generation’s constant reexamination of marriage and commitment, it looks like we’re reimagining the role that race should play – or should not play – in our relationships. Nice.
Of course, this shift should absolutely be happening in our supposedly post-racial America, where “within a few decades…American Indian, Asian, black and Hispanic Americans and people of mixed race [will] become a majority of the population.” Could the rates of intermarriage be changing faster? Sure. Could there be a more evenly dispersed embrace of this shift (black-white marriages are still significantly less common than every other pairing)? No doubt. But let’s take a brief moment to say, yay. We’re heading in the right direction. And with every generation of mixed-race children that these marriages and relationships produce, these levels of intermarriage should only become more typical and mainstream.
But wait! Halt the parade. The media – and particularly my oft-beloved New York Times – has (unsurprisingly) turned this data into yet another story about why women should be scared that they will never get married. In this case, black women. This isn’t the first time they’ve turned a seemingly positive and hopeful finding into a “sorry single women, you’ll just NEVER win!” article. Last time, they mourned the fact that women were entering college at record rates and actually outnumbering guys on college campuses. Why is this sad, you ask? Shouldn’t we be celebrating these women’s successes? Nope. Because what truly matters is that it’s so much harder for these girls to get a date now! And this causes them to turn into insecure sluts, high SAT scores or not. Great, thanks. Way to empower women to achieve.
So please let me rant about the big, bad media for a moment. They just can’t seem to resist a good story of romantic terrorism! We’ve talked about these messages from the media before, remember? You’re a woman living in New York City – you’ll never get married! You have high standards for yourself – you’ll never get married! Fine, you may end up getting married – but then you’ll get cheated on, in one way or another!
And now, the Times has taken the new data about interracial marriage and spun it into another piece about the well-documented struggle of black women to find “’good’ black men to marry.” Their reasoning for this – and their sensational headline, “Black Women See Fewer Black Men at the Altar” – is that 22% of black men who married in 2008 wed outside of their race, while only 9% of black women did the same. Factor in “the prison population,” and black women are screwed. Time to visit the pet store.
Look – this issue certainly exists. I’ve spent hours discussing and lamenting it with friends. It sucks. However, the comments section of the Times article speaks volumes about how tired women of ALL races are of hearing this argument. If it’s true, then let’s fix it. If it’s overanalyzed, then let’s stop dwelling on it. Women these days are too optimistic to want one more unhelpful doomsday message carelessly added to the pile.
Here are a smattering of excerpts from my favorite comments – these women say it better than I ever could:
“Would you please stop with the “nobody wants black women” articles?!? It’s getting old…some of us are and always have been open to dating men, not just black men. This is the problem with statistics – they reinforce the idea that we are a monolith.”
“Good news that people are falling in love. Ho hum that skin color warrants study and articles.”
“As a black woman, I get really tired of these types of stories. I have no idea what purpose they are supposed to serve. This past 6 months what I’ve basically gotten from the media is that since I am Black, college educated woman I should just buy 10 cats right now because I’ll never get a Black man to marry me since they are either in prison or marrying white women. (As if I’m only willing to date Black men!)…”
“I don’t understand the headline for this article. The article was about interracial relationships, so why single out black women? Why not “Love Transcends Racial Boundaries” or “Black Men Increasingly Marrying Outside Race”? I am so sick of this “black women and the shrinking dating pool” narrative and the venom it always seems to incite against black women.”
“This is the umpteenth article on the topic of the forgotten black woman. I could care less. I am living my life complete with its middle class, ivy league, intellectual quirks.”
“I am waiting for the article “Black women find trip to altar riddled with reporters and social scientists.” As one of the legions of unmarried, overeducated Black women I’ve decided to start a group to help all the other women in my shoes. Oops I have to catch a flight for a weekend getaway, I’ll do it when I get back. Damn, a bunch of us are meeting up to go to a concert when I get back, I’ll do it next week. Oh next week is the family reunion, then the lecture series, the dancing classes and the marathon. Well the minute I stop having a fulfilling life filled with friends, family, joy and sex I’m starting that group.”
UPDATE: For more perspectives on this, check out what super-talented author Savannah Frierson has to say…
Jess is the co-creator of Dating & Hookup, alongside her childhood best friend Becky Lynch, and is the author of the book - yep! - Dating & Hookup. She never tires of hearing your post-dating stories. She wants you to enjoy your love life, and is full of advice on how to do so.
datingandhookup.com is a website that explores modern romance in the Millennial era – which, let’s be honest, looks nothing like we were taught to expect. We feature essays, advice and social commentary with humor, compassion and brains, and we vow never, ever to publish a piece called “The 10 Best Ways to Satisfy Your Man in Bed”. Do click to submit your work to us. We love you.
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