“Myth-Busting the Black Marriage ‘Crisis’ Panic over single black women is unfounded. Two black scholars have the numbers to prove it.”



So, I understand that this article is a bit older than what is required, but I loved it and thought it was a perfect fit for my topic. Editor Jenée Desmond-Harris published this article for The Root highlighting the alleged  “marriage crisis” that has been going around regarding African-Americans. In this article, researchers Ivory A. Toldson, Ph.D and Bryant Marks challenge the statistics and numbers that paint a picture of  crisis and fear for blacks and marriage, particularly black women. The researchers state that the media’s analysis of this topic is “divisive and defeatist” and that blacks need to stop buying it these fear tactics. They first target the infamous statistic from the 2010 Census that states that 42 percent of black women 18 and older have never been married. Toldson and Marks explain that most black women in fact do get married. The age range of 18 and older is really broad; thus this includes ages when women would not normally get married anyway. When they did independent research using the same data, they realized that when raising the age range of women to 35 and older, the percentage of women who have never been married goes down to 25 percent (a big jump from 42%). The article goes on to reveal several other hidden truths that are painted negatively by the media and society. The media can be very influential in a good way but in this case it is influential in a negative way and fear sells. However, Toldson and Marks want to challenge people to think about where they get their information from, how that information might be framed, and realize how much it can affect and cloud our judgement of the truth.

I thought this article was a great and needed contrast to the other articles I have posted. Even I was shocked and amazed at the how low the percentage actually was for black women who never get married. I always hear how there are no more good black men and how there is a greatly disproportionate ratio of women to men, especially in Atlanta. So naturally I just assumed that that statistic held absolute truth since there was “evidence” and word of mouth to back it up. And unfortunately,many others have that exact same thought process. So I focus on the question of why does the media portray marriage amongst blacks so poorly? Why strategically frame that data in that way? Why hide the truth if it can actually help those that are affected by it? Well, Toldson and Marks said that fear sells and by creating this unnecessary sense of desperation and crisis women naturally buy  into it and this allows America to benefit financially. Seeing that I bought into it myself, it is understandable as to why black women would go into such a panic. However, I believe it goes a lot deeper than that. I see it as another point of control for society over black women. During slavery and even well after slavery, black women were not seen as ladies. They were not the ideal image of the Victorian lady and were not seen as gentle,lady-like beings. As a result, the idea of black women being able to get married began to form. This may very well be a continuing, subtle way of keeping black women at that bottom of the tier when it comes to marriage. Black women can never seem to catch a break. As slaves, black women did not have the privilege of marriage like whites did. So when they were able to openly enjoy the perks of marriage, black women had to fight to show that they can be wives and lady-like all at the same time. Many black women became stay at home wives, which was once reserved for white women. They showed a sense of elegance and class through their attire, education and organized women’s groups. They reclaimed their sexuality and really fought hard to exude piety. Unfortunately, black women are still fighting to show that they are indeed marriage material.  Many young black women today think and truly believe that their possibilities of marriage is slim to none. They ingest statistics, commentary, and false pretenses that lead them to believe that they have no chance, especially in comparison to whites. This then causes a chain reaction and affects other areas of a women’s life such as self-esteem and self-worth with added pressure and a sense of desperation. All of these hinders a women from being proactive and open to the opportunity of marriage. But maybe that is exactly what the media was going for.


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