Marriage Isn’t Just for White People, Study Says


Contrary to popular belief, it’s not harder for educated Black women to find men, according to a new study. 

When researching the number of Black males in prison versus Black males in college, researchers found that one subject in particular kept popping up again and again: black marriage and dating.

Dr. Ivory Toldson, an associate professor in the School of Education at Howard University, senior research analyst for the Congressional Black Caucus, and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Negro Education, recently released a study about education and the black man in America along with Bryant T. Marks, director of Morehouse College’s Male Initiative. 

They will join political and educational leaders to discuss their findings at the “Presidential Symposium: Beyond the Stereotypes—Academics, Athletics, Character and Black Male Achievement,” Sept. 7, as part of a series of events leading up to the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic between Morehouse and Howard.  

The study debunks highly popularized theories about the lack of marital options for Black women. For example, the research cites a story from ABC that states only 54 percent of Black men would be considered “adequate to marry” taking into account the Black men who lack a college education, are in jail and are unemployed. In his study, Toldson points out that such reports don’t take into account overlapping of this data. 

This “phenomena” of the single and successful black woman as well as the crumbling of the Black family has been covered by many news outlets.  MSNBC, NPR, the Washington Post and countless bloggers have had stories with headlines such as  “Marriage Alludes High-Achieving Black Women,” “Black Women: Successful and Still Unmarried” or “Marriage Is for White People.”

Many assumptions on Black dating are based on misinformation, according to Toldson. Even on the small scale of a university, inflated numbers are considered common knowledge.  For example, Toldson debunked the ratio rumor on Howard’s campus.

“At Howard University, a competitive university, the ratio of females to males is a little bit more skewed towards females,” he said. “If you go to the average Howard student and ask what the ratio is, you’ll hear things like 10 to one or 15 to one. That’s nowhere close to the truth. The actual ratio at Howard is just two to one.”

But even though there are more Black women in college than Black men, men still bring in more money than women, laying to rest claims that Black women are having trouble finding men in the same socioeconomic bracket, Toldson added. 

“Black women do outpace men in graduation,” he said. “Black men still get paid more than Black women. Those extra degrees have not brought about economic parity.”

Money continues to be a major factor in marriage and relationships.  More and more Americans are getting married later in life to save for and afford a certain lifestyle. Black Americans are no different. Eighteen was an appropriate age to begin calculating marriage rates back in 1960, but now that practice may be dated.

“The reality is that cities like D.C., New York and Atlanta are very expensive to live in,” Toldson said.  “In reality, it would take a quarter of a million dollars to achieve that living standard in a city like New York.”

Although marriage rates in general are lower, Black women in particular have received the brunt of media coverage.  According to Toldson, this is because throughout history whites have been seen as the “norm.” “When we look at show like ‘Sex in the City,’ they’re talking about this issue,” he says. “They’re talking about four women that are very successful, and their success seems to be competing with chances of finding love. But it was never discussed as a white issue.”

Overall, Toldson hopes that this dialogue will open a door for discussion, rather than add to more panic about the state of black love.  “We need to really start challenging the information that is brought to us.”

In addition to Toldson, panelists at the symposium will include actor Isaiah Washington, author and talk show host Michael Eric Dyson, Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray, and Presidents Sidney A. Ribeau and Robert M. Franklin of Howard and Morehouse, respectively. The symposium is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Cramton Auditorium at Howard University.

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Marriage Isn't Just for White People, Study Says

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