College-Educated Black Women Least Likely to Have a Well-Educated Spouse
A report on social mobility by The Brookings Institution takes a look at the decline of marriage in the U.S., focusing on Black college-educated women.
A recent Social Mobility Memo of The Brookings Institution indicates a large percentage of Black women with college degrees remain unmarried because they seek to only wed a Black, educated man.
"Single black female BA seeks educated husband: Race, assortative mating and inequality," published April 9, offers that the current trend of "assortative mating" in the U.S. -- choosing a spouse with a similar educational background -- is less available to college-educated Black women.
Black men are the second least likely to earn a college education, after Latino men. And Black women are least likely to "marry out" across racial lines. Therefore, if interracial marriage is not an option, the potential for a college-educated spouse decreases.
Forty-nine percent of college-educated Black women marry a well-educated man, compared to 84 percent of college-educated white women.
Using five-year estimates from the 2008-2012 waves of the American Community Survey, the authors examined race gaps in marriage patterns.
- In the past few decades, marriage rates in the U.S. have fallen sharply, and sharpest of all in the Black population.
- The proportion of Black college graduates aged 25 to 35 who have never married is 60 percent, compared to 38 percent for white college-educated women.
- Married Black women who are college graduates are much more likely to have a husband with a lower level of education (58 percent), compared to whites of a similar background (48 percent).
According to the authors, "Even if Black women rise up the ladder, in part because of their efforts to acquire more education, one of the key mechanisms for maintaining that higher status for the next generation — assortative mating — is less available to them."
This means households with two college graduates earn more income, which sets a solid foundation for the next generation.
Black Women and Interracial Marriage
In his 2011 book Is Marriage for White People?, Stanford Law professor Ralph Richard Banks focuses on the marriage patterns of Black, middle class, educated professionals.
He conducted a decade of research, including interviews focused on dating and marriage ideals and experiences. Banks cites Black women advancing economically and educationally at higher levels than Black men as a cause for low-marriage rates among Blacks in the U.S.
In an interview with TIME magazine, he discussed a gender imbalance within the Black community:
Two African American women graduate from college for every one African American male. Despite this imbalance, there is still enormous social pressure on Black women to only marry Black men — to "sustain" the race and build strong black families. And this means marrying Black men even if they are less educated or earn less money. In short, no matter the personal cost, Black woman are encourage to marry "down" before they marry "out."
Banks explained that, for the sake of a man, Black women are pressured to give up certain kinds of life experiences, while white women are taught to cultivate them. And Black women should be open to having relationships with men who are not Black, and focus more on class.
"This would be good for them, for their children and even benefit other Black couples by helping to level the playing field, he said."
However, authors of "Single black female BA seeks educated husband" do note that the racial gaps in our society offer the "greatest equity challenges of the 21st Century," more so than the marriage gaps.
Black women do have a lot of factors to consider when seeking a mate. Yet, there is no set formula on educational status, class or race that will definitively result in a successful marriage.
Please feel free to share your experience in our comments section. We will be posting a follow-up with our reader's feedback.
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Three Black women were shopping at a Target store in Nashville, Tenn., when an angry woman verbally harassed them, saying the women "Don't belong here" and that they are "perfect for the court system."
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Late politician Shirley Chisholm, a trailblazer who worked to improve the lives of others, became the first Black woman elected to Congress in 1968. Fifty years after she made history, New York City announced it would honor Chisholm with a statue in her hometown.
Celebrities are seeking out ways to fight the mental health stigma within the Black community.
Studies show Black men are particularly concerned about the stigma of mental illness, and apprehensive about seeking help.
Wizdom Powell, PhD, MPH, director of the Health Disparities Institute at University of Connecticut Health and associate professor of psychiatry, said that men of color are generally discouraged from seeking any kind of help, including help with mental health issues.
But some brave men in the very public eye, have decided to tackle the issue hoping to change the way the Black community views getting help.
Earlier this month, Chance the Rapper donated $1 million to help improve mental health services in Chicago. Six mental health providers in Cook County will each get $100,000 grants, and SocialWorks is starting an initiative called "My State of Mind" to help connect people with treatment.
NFL player Brandon Marshall, who struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder, started a nonprofit Project 375.org to help eradicate stigma, increase awareness and improve training and care for youth. He wrote a powerful essay called "The Stigma," last year, where he was candid with his own battles and some of his coping mechanisms that included meditation and journaling.
The conversations around health are happening in other ways, in interviews, on albums, online and on screen.
Jay-Z has come out in interviews to talk about how the experience of therapy helped him grow as a man, overcoming situations, which he describes in his lyrics.
On his album "4:44," he released a mini documentary "Footnotes for MaNyfaCedGod," where he gathered a group of Black men to talk candidly about therapy, self-care, and mental health awareness.
He also advocated for therapy at younger ages and in schools.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson posted about his mother's suicide attempt on social media and went on "Oprah's Master Class" on OWN to discuss his own depression and how important it is to know that you are not alone in your struggles.
Rapper Kid Cudi, in posting about and seeking help for his anxiety struggles back in 2016, inspired users on social media to start the #YouGoodMan hashtag, which became a place for Black men to share knowledge and their stories with support.
Primetime TV shows are breaking the silence in the Black community as well.
Sterling K. Brown star of "This Is Us," Romany Malco Jr. of "A Million Little Things," and Kendrick Sampson and Issa Rae of "Insecure" all struggle on screen with issues and survive.
These actors are tackling conversations around getting help for depression, suicide ideation, panic attacks, and trauma — many issues that plague the Black community based on everyday living experiences.
And talking about it helps.
Marcus and Markeiff Morris, twin brothers and NBA players talked to ESPN about their struggles with depression and trauma from growing up in a violent neighborhood. Marcus Morris, who shared their story, encouraged others, "If you have depression, you should be trying to get rid of it instead of bottling it up and letting it weigh on you and weigh on you and weigh on you."
Markeiff, initially agreed to speak about his illness, but bowed out, possibly a sign that he's not quite ready. There are many men like him.
Hopefully, the more men that come forward to advocate and share, the more others will feel empowered to do the same.
Reader Question: Why do you think Black men struggle to speak openly about their how stress impacts their mental health?
UPDATE: A Father Posts Photo of His Little Girl Dressed Up as Serena Williams for 'Superhero Day' and Gets a Message from the Tennis Superstar
Chris Wright told DiversityInc that Williams "shows young Black women it's okay to be strong and have voice."
UPDATE: Sept. 30, 2018 at 8:40 a.m. ET
Chris Wright, who shared the photo on Twitter, told DiversityInc that the little girl is his 9-year-old daughter, Ameya.
Thanks @DiversityInc for the great article about my daughter.
— Chris Wright (@CoachWright229) September 29, 2018
Wright told DiversityInc on Sunday that Ameya dressed as Serena Williams during homecoming week at her elementary school in Cairo, Ga.
He said she is slowly starting to get into tennis.
"Her grandfather loves it," Wright said. "[They] made a deal a while back that she was going to try and make the varsity tennis team as a freshman. Right now, she is just having fun learning the game."
Wright, who coaches girls' basketball at Chattahoochee County Middle High School, said Williams "shows young Black women it's okay to be strong and have voice."
He added, "Our young Black girls need to see women in those positions. It lets them know they can do anything they put their minds to."
Wright said that when his mother picked up Ameya from school on Friday, she told her the news that Williams had sent her a message on Twitter.
"Ameya screamed multiple times," Wright said.
Serena Williams, one of the world's greatest athletes, is not only a role model for her one-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia, but for other little girls who look up to her.
Twitter user Chris Wright shared a photo on Friday of an adorable Black girl dressed in a tutu, holding a tennis racket and striking a powerful pose.
A white man demanding a permit interrupts Black women working on a photo shoot.
Earlier this month, Serena Williams was also the subject of a racist cartoon in an Australian newspaper after the US Open women's final.
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