ADVICE: Where Are the Brothas? how a Continued Erasure of Black Men’s Voices in the wedding concern Perpetuates the Ebony Male Deficit

By Joy L. Hightower | April 25, 2016

A Black female correspondent for the ABC News, wrote a feature article for Nightline in 2009, Linsey Davis. She had one concern: “Why are successful Ebony women the smallest amount of likely than just about just about any battle or gender to marry?” Her tale went viral, sparking a debate that is national. Inside the year, social networking, newsrooms, self-help books, Black tv shows and movies had been ablaze with commentary that interrogated the trend that is increasing of married, middle-class Ebony females. The conclusions for this debate had been evasive at most readily useful, mostly muddled by different views in regards to the conflicting relationship desires of Ebony females and Ebony males. Nevertheless the debate made a very important factor clear: the controversy concerning the decreasing prices of Black wedding is really a middle-class problem, and, more especially, a nagging issue for Ebony ladies. Middle-class Black males only enter as being a specter of Ebony women’s singleness; their voices are mainly muted within the discussion.

This viewpoint piece challenges the media that are gendered by foregrounding the ignored perspectives of middle-class Ebony males which are drowned away by the hysteria that surrounds professional Black women’s singleness.1 We argue that when middle-class males enter the debate, they are doing a great deal into the in an identical way as their lower-class brethren: their failure to marry Ebony ladies. Middle-class and lower-class Ebony men alike have actually experienced a rhetorical death. A favorite 2015 nyc occasions article proclaims “1.5 million Black men are ‘missing’” from everyday lived experiences as a result of incarceration, homicide, and deaths that are HIV-related.

This explanation that is pervasive of men’s “disappearance” knows no course variation. Despite changing mores that are social later on wedding entry across social groups, middle-class Black men are described as “missing” through the wedding areas of Ebony females. In this method, news narratives link the potency of Ebony males with their marriageability.

Ebony men’s relationship decisions—when and who they marry—have been designated whilst the reason behind declining Black colored wedding prices. Black men’s higher rates of interracial marriage are from the “new wedding squeeze,” (Crowder and Tolnay 2000), which identifies the problem for professional Black women that look for to marry Ebony males for the exact same ilk. This is why “squeeze,” in their book, “Is Marriage for White People?”, Stanford Law Professor Richard Banks (2011) recommends that middle-class Ebony ladies should emulate middle-class Black males whom allegedly marry outside of their competition. Such an indication prods at among the most-debated social insecurities of Black America, namely, the angst regarding Ebony men’s patterns of interracial relationships.

Certainly, it is a fact, middle-class Ebony men marry outside their battle, and do this two times as often as Ebony women. But, this statistic fails to remember the fact that the bulk of middle-class Black men marry Black ladies. Eighty-five per cent of college-educated Ebony males are hitched to Black females, and almost the same per cent of hitched Black guys with salaries over $100,000 are hitched to Black females.

Black colored women are not “All the Single Ladies” despite efforts to help make the two teams synonymous.

The media’s perpetuation of dismal trends that are statistical Ebony wedding obscures the entangled origins of white racism, specifically, its creation of intra-racial quarrels being a process of control. For instance, the riveting 2009 discovering that 42% of Ebony women can be unmarried made its news rounds while mysteriously unaccompanied by the comparable 2010 statistic that 48% of Black men have not been hitched. This “finding” additionally dismissed the undeniable fact that both Ebony men and Ebony ladies marry, though later within the lifecycle. But, it’s no coincidence that this rhetoric pits Black men and Ebony ladies against each other; it really is centuries-old plantation logic that now permeates contemporary news narratives about Ebony closeness.

Ebony women’s interpretation for this debate—that you will find maybe maybe not enough “qualified” (read: degreed, at the very least income that is median-level) Black men to marry—prevails over exactly what these men think of their marital leads. For that reason, we lack sufficient familiarity with just how this debate has impacted the stance of middle-class Ebony guys regarding the wedding concern. My research explores these problems by drawing on in-depth interviews with 80 middle-class Black men between 25-55 years of age about their views on wedding.

First, do middle-class Ebony guys desire wedding? They want a committed relationship but are not marriage that is necessarily thinkingstraight away). This choosing supports a current collaborative research among NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, while the Harvard class of Public wellness that finds Black males are more likely to state they’ve been in search of a long-lasting relationship (43 per cent) than are black colored ladies (25 %). 2 My qualitative analysis offers the “why” for this trend that is statistical. Respondents unveiled that in certain of these relationship and dating experiences, they felt women had been trying to achieve the purpose of wedding. They were left by these experiences experiencing that their application had been more crucial than whom they certainly were as males. For middle-class Ebony males, having a wife is a factor of success, although not the exclusive goal of it while they felt was usually the instance with Ebony females who they dated.

Next, how can course status form just what Black guys consider “qualified”? Participants felt educational attainment ended up being more crucial that you the ladies they dated than it had been to them; they valued women’s cleverness over their credentials. They conceded that their academic qualifications attracted ladies, yet their application of accomplishments overshadowed any interest that is genuine. Regarding the entire, men held the presumption which they would eventually meet somebody who ended up being educated if due to their social networking, but achievement that is educational perhaps perhaps not the driving force of the relationship choices. There was clearly an intra-class that is slight for males whom was raised middle-class or attended elite institutions by themselves but weren’t fundamentally from the middle-class back ground. For those guys, educational attainment ended up being a strong preference.

My analysis that is preliminary demonstrates integrating Ebony men’s perspectives into our talks about wedding permits for the parsing of Ebony guys and Ebony women’s views as to what this means to be “marriageable.” Middle-class Black men’s views in regards to the hodgepodge of mismatched wants and timing between them and Ebony females moves beyond principal explanations that stress the “deficit” and economic shortcomings of Ebony guys. The erasure of Black men’s voices threatens to uphold the one-sided, gendered debate about declining black colored marriage rates and perpetuates a distorted comprehension of the wedding concern among both Black guys and Black ladies.


Banking Institutions, Ralph tinychat alternative Richard. 2011. Is Wedding for White People? The way the Marriage that is african-American Decline Everybody. Nyc: Penguin Group.

Crowder, Kyle D. and Stewart E. Tolnay. 2000. “A New Marriage Squeeze for Ebony ladies: The Role of Racial Intermarriage by Black Men.” Journal of Marriage and Family .

1 My focus, here, can be on heterosexual relationships as that’s the focus of my research.

2 Though the vast majority of those searching for long-lasting relationships want to marry later on (98%).