So this post is a bit different from my other ones. Instead of doing an article, I choose to do this website: blackmarriageday.com. Black Marriage Day was founded in 2002 by Nisa Islam Muhammad. It is a national initiative founded for the purpose of shifting the way marriage is viewed in the Black community and to celebrate it. BMD falls on the fourth Sunday in March, which is preceded by Black Marriage week, the last week in March. By posting the link to this website, I am encouraging you to browse the website, see what it’s about and what it aims to do. While doing so, I ask that you view with a critical eye. How are they portraying marriage? Who are their articles mostly about (celebrities, common people, professionals, etc)? How are they saying we should fix this marriage crisis? It will be more effective to first peruse the website before reading my commentary, that way my thoughts and opinions won’t skew your own.
I want to start off by saying that I think this is a creative and proactive initiative. It is a great way to get people involved in something as a community. I can’t really be mad at something that brings others together for a good cause. Marriage within the Black community is a huge topic of discussion (as my entire blog has shown) and although I feel like this “crisis” is not as bad as society and statistics are making it out to be, it can definitely use some improvement. Marriage in general in the United States can use some improvement, but that’s a different blog, different day. I first came across this website while reading an article on theGrio.com titled “Black Marriage Day: A showcase for African-American love, commitment” (link provided below). My initial reaction was “does this article meet my date requirement?” and my second was a happy reaction. I thought, “finally! an article celebrating black marriage.” However, as I started reading I became more interested so I went to the website. My intentions are not to bash this movement/initiative, but I could not help asking a question: Is marriage really the answer? In the about section of the website, I saw those infamous marriage statistics, again. Heightened by words like single mothers, wedlock, obsolete, far worse, troubles, and issues, of course the natural response would be a negative one. Then I read, “BMD is focused on supplying the solution to the problems we face in a real life way.” Maybe I am taking it wrong, but this sentence insinuates that the solution to “criminal persecution, financial troubles and relationship issues” is marriage. I don’t know how I feel about that. Yes, I believe the black community faces these issues. Yes, I think there is major room for improvement. Yes, it needs to be addressed; but with marriage? Love is beautiful and marriage is sacred, but with things the way they are now I am not sure that marriage is a sufficient enough plan of action. Marriage is not going to fix the unemployment rate, particularly for Black men. Marriage is not going to decrease the crime rate. Marriage is not going to fix relationship issues. A person who has baggage before a marriage will certainly carry that baggage into marriage. That goes for anyone. Now, I am not completely irrational; I understand where this organization is coming from and what it will like to accomplish. However, my personal opinion is that as a society greater strides in education need to be taken. Educating children on all of their options in life, providing learning centers and outreach programs in underprivileged communities, and working to reshape oppressive stigmas and stereotypes of the black community would be my suggested plan of action. Not to mention, what is this telling young, single Black women? In order to help and uplift the Black community they should just get married? It’s no wonder women are feeding into this “marriage crisis”. I am also not saying that marriage cannot effectively aid these areas in some way. I am, however, asking what about people in nontraditional families? What about people who just plainly don’t aspire to get married? This leads me into my next point. After reading the first article on theGrio, I read the follow up article: “Black Marriage Day Excludes Many Black Families” (link also provided below). This article raised another great point: what about everyone else? What about the LGBT community? What about single parents who are making it work? Does this mean interracial marriages don’t uplift and celebrate “Black love”? There is so much more to marriage than a ring. Commitment does not necessarily mean marriage and just because two people are married does not mean that marriage is stable. Writer of the latter article, Kevin Maillard, writes that the initiative needs to be more productive and less exclusionary. Instead it would be better for it to “celebrate black families in general, which would include a wide diversity of arrangements: interracial families, LGBT families, single parent households and yes, traditional families. This means that black marriage is one of many options for healthy black families. A Black Family Day, as opposed to a Black Marriage Day, says that all families deserve recognition and praise.” To sum up, although I think that this initiative is well intended and is aimed to address really troubling conditions, I cannot help but feel that this approach is rooted in a bit of naivety. Also, this just puts more anxiety on single Black women. In order for them to fix their life problems all they have to do is find a man and get married. We all know that is the last stereotype that needs to be further perpetuated. For me, this is another reason why it is so important to always think critically and question concepts and ideas. The “fountain” of knowledge is susceptible to anything without a filter.