It’s well known that most black women are taught by their parents to get through school, don’t get pregnant, and don’t worry about getting a man while you’re getting your degree. So we do it and it’s done. But when it’s time to start looking for a mate that is comparable with our achievements, the black men who make the cut are few and far between. Enter all the “soul food relationship gurus” who come in to tell black women to lower their expectations and give up-and-coming-rapper-living-in-his-mamas-basement Jerome a chance, or the unambitious 30-year-old who makes $10 an hour with two illegitimate kids by two different women to support. We are taught to bend and bend to our own detriment, so often marriage seems of no real benefit to us if it means we have grown child-men to support.
The struggle is real, and backed by science. A recent study by the Brookings Institute suggests that when black women marry, they marry someone with less education 58% of the time. Only 11% of black women marry men with more education. Not to mention that the 68% of black men of equal education aren’t marrying black women. “There is a growing “marriage gap” in the United States. Marriage rates among the non-college educated population have fallen sharply in the last few decades, and sharpest of all in the black population,” says the report.
(I find it interesting that none of the major online publications are publishing these results…)
Basically, college educated black women are not assortively mating very well. Assortive mating is defined by the process in which people marry mates of equal or more education and financial mobility.
Black women aren’t generally taught assortive mating, because doing so makes you open to the black community criticisms that you’re too “bourgie” or you’re gold digging. Hmmm….you’re gold digging to expect to marry someone who worked as hard as you did to get what you got? Whateva!!
The benefits of assortive mating:
One implication of assortative mating is greater household income inequality, since education is a strong — and strengthening — predictor of earnings. Households with two college graduates multiply that earnings power by two and are doing much better than households with less-educated couples. Jeremy Greenwood of the University of Pennsylvania and colleagues estimate that assortative mating pushes up the Gini coefficient (a measure of income inequality) from 0.34 to 0.43. Work by Brookings’ Gary Burtless suggests that between 10 percent and 16 percent of income inequality in the United States is caused by the “growing correlation of earned incomes received by husbands and wives.”
“By definition, the black female college graduates who do not marry are not assortatively mating, since they are not mating — defined as marrying — at all. This helps to explain why white women with college degrees are more than twice as likely as their black counterparts (29% v 13%) to be married to someone of equal or greater educational status,” the study says.
This study, and it’s implications, are the basis of why interracial dating and relationships require a unique focus when it comes to black women.
The interaction between gender, race, education, and marriage helps to explain the replication of social status. 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 is yet another reminder that even if, as Gideon Rose writes in Foreign Affairs, there has been progress towards a “post-racist” society, we are still a long way short of a “post-racial” one.
It’s the reason I wrote Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate, Mixing Race, Culture and Creed, and why my critics hate me for it. If you wish to build wealth, say GOOD RIDDANCE to the struggle, have less financial stress and give your kids the best chance at life, you absolutely have to widen your dating pool, and you should not give two craps about whatever guilt trips the GAT-DL (Guardians of All Things Dark and Lovely) try to impose upon you. Telling black women to “marry down” has probably been the worst advice we’ve gotten for the past half century.