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The Fix for Black Marriage?

Posted by humphreysworld on August 8, 2011

While I have never questioned my blackness, I can’t say it was fully realized until I became an adult. Sounds a little nutty from a black woman but let me explain. I grew up in the burbs in California. From early on, my friends were diverse and, being in free-loving northern Cali, no one made a point to remind me I was black. I remember once being called nigger by my best friends dad in a fit of anger, but honestly at the age of 7 I didn’t really understand the power behind that word. It wasn’t until I became an adult did I realize my blackness was in reality my first identifier. Blatant racism will do that do you.

Over the years, my consciousness as a black woman continued to develop and the importance of creating and maintaining that sense of community even more focused. As loved ones have passed on and my sense of family, community and pride continued to swell, my commitment to the idea of black love and family has never been stronger. So imagine my shock/surprise/disappointment/fill-in-the-blank when I came across a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that suggested the way today’s black woman will find happiness is to date/marry outside of our race.

The article began by profiling a woman named Audrey who was 39, single and living in the D.C. area. By all accounts she seemed like a good catch- smart, educated, yadda yadda.  What Audrey was missing was a partner.  According the article (and personal experience), Audrey is not alone. Nearly 70% of African American women are not married. The answer, the article intimates, is to open ourselves to relationships with men of other races.

I felt a range of emotions after reading this. Except for the difference in age, I am Audrey. I live in the D.C. area, am a month away from being 37, single, successful by most accounts (working for social change doesn’t pay for a mortgage in this area but I do ok) and I am in a place in my life where marriage and family is something I am open to. To be specific, I want a black family and a black marriage.  According to the article, and many other books, papers, etc. I’ve read, the odds are stacked against black love. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before: black women are too aggressive/angry (what black person hasn’t heard that before. When it comes from within however, it’s something different). Black women are gold-diggers. Black men like to ‘marry up/out’ when they become successful. Black men are less educated. Black women nag. Black men are incarcerated in large numbers (very true, a problem that is so much bigger than this conversation), on and on. What community doesn’t have their own challenges? What relationship doesn’t have their own set of bullshit? Are these reasons to date/marry outside your race because you feel there is no other option?

I spent 2.5 years of my life being dragged on an emotional roller coaster by someone who in the end was an emotionally immature asshole. And I a fool. A black ass and a black fool. He didn’t fit any of the challenges outlined above, and neither did I. WE simply didn’t fit. And it wouldn’t have turned out any different if he was white or Hispanic. Without question the external issues we have with race as individuals is something we end up bringing to our internal relationships with each other. All of the above can be attributed to our economic status (or lack thereof), and how we view ourselves through what we learn externally also plays a role in how we relate to and treat each other. This is something that needs to be addressed in order for black love to survive.

A friend pointed out to me that race shouldn’t limit who you find happiness with. I’m sure he’s right. But I hope we (the collective) don’t give up on each other. I’ve been through some rough patches with my brothers, as I’m sure they would likely say about me, as I’m sure our community can say of each other. But even still, that isn’t reason enough for me to give up on the idea of black love and family. Love is a beautiful thing, no matter who you end up with.  To find love these days, true love that can withstand everything that is thrown at it, is rare across all races.  In spite of the odds, many of my brothers and sisters have found each other so I know it’s possible. Nothing in life is easy, and if it is, it’s probably not worth fighting for. Sometimes you have to pick through a lot of rotten apples to get to the shiny one on top. And that apple will taste like none other, it will nourish you like nothing else and it will behold beauty compared to none because of the work you put in to get to it. That’s what love is like. I can’t speak to other experiences, but for black women (including your girl here) there’s no question it isn’t easy. But to me my happily ever after is worth fighting for so I’ll take my lumps and wait for my brown prince charming*.

*I recognize the topic of race, particularly interracial dating, is a touchy subject. I welcome any and all thoughts on this, although I have zero tolerance for ignorance and racist bullshit. So keep it classy, y’all.

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2 Responses to “The Fix for Black Marriage?”

  1. zephyradl said

    Great post, Dionna. As you know, my spouse is white and I’m Indian. It just turned out that we’re such a terrific fit for each other. I know that race, religion, socioeconomics, education, etc., all fit into the picture of who we are and how we met and how we reached out to each other, so I won’t say “well, if he weren’t white it would all still be the same” because it wouldn’t be, and who knows how it would have turned out. For just that reason, I can also see why you’d say “I hope we don’t give up on each other,” and why you’d “wait for [your] black prince charming.” You’ll find your apple. 🙂

    I should add that we met in college, lost touch completely for eight years, then literally ran into each other on the street and then were engaged within weeks, have been married 6 years and it’s still fabulous. So, you know, anything’s possible. 🙂

    Also, I just want to say that it’s horrifying that your best friend’s dad would think it is ok to say that word to little girl. I don’t care how mad he was– that’s completely wrong and if I knew him, I’d call him out on it today.

    • so very well said. And when love manages to connect two souls together, it’s magic regardless of race, religion, etc! I hope to find that one day as well. Perhaps my prince charming isn’t who I think he will be. But the assertion of the article was misguided and as African Americans we have A LOT we’re up against. Add to that the fact that sometimes we don’t even like each other because we don’t like ourselves and people suggesting the only way to be happy is an unfair statement. I don’t get approached by other men. And if I did I would like to think I would give him the fair shake just like anyone else. From my own experiences and observations we could be doing better by each other. And that helps us improve our relationships. I won’t knock love in any shade, but I think keeping an open mind also means knowing all we’re against and helping each other work through that and perhaps on the other end of that is love of self and maybe even one another. I really appreciated your thoughtful insight to this. You have a beautiful family!

      As for the old childhood friend we’re no longer connected. I think for some when they deal with people of color their first response is always something along those lines. We see in the debate of politics with a black president in office. I don’t recall telling my mom about what he called me, I doubt it because there would’ve been trouble, lol! But that was 30 years ago and I can still see the rage in his face. Sadly not much has changed when it comes to race.

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