\"Marriage is for white people\"

Joy Jones in the WaPo:

"Marriage is for white people."

That's what one of my students told me some years back when I taught a career exploration class for sixth-graders at an elementary school in Southeast Washington. I was pleasantly surprised when the boys in the class stated that being a good father was a very important goal to them, more meaningful than making money or having a fancy title.

"That's wonderful!" I told my class. "I think I'll invite some couples in to talk about being married and rearing children."

"Oh, no," objected one student. "We're not interested in the part about marriage. Only about how to be good fathers."


Among African Americans, the desire for marriage seems to have a different trajectory for women and men. My observation is that black women in their twenties and early thirties want to marry and commit at a time when black men their age are more likely to enjoy playing the field. As the woman realizes that a good marriage may not be as possible or sustainable as she would like, her focus turns to having a baby, or possibly improving her job status, perhaps by returning to school or investing more energy in her career.

As men mature, and begin to recognize the benefits of having a roost and roots (and to feel the consequences of their risky bachelor behavior), they are more willing to marry and settle down. By this time, however, many of their female peers are satisfied with the lives they have constructed and are less likely to settle for marriage to a man who doesn't bring much to the table. Indeed, he may bring too much to the table: children and their mothers from previous relationships, limited earning power, and the fallout from years of drug use, poor health care, sexual promiscuity. In other words, for the circumspect black woman, marriage may not be a business deal that offers sufficient return on investment.

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Very interesting. I wonder

Very interesting. I wonder what Professor Sowell would say about the analysis.

Last year, I attended a

Last year, I attended a seminar in Oakland, CA, on the African-American perspective on legalizing gay marriage. A sizeable minority of the audience (which was almost entirely gay and lesbian African Americans) felt that marriage was a white institution and legalized gay marriage was a step backward rather than forward in equality because it represented selling out to a white system rather than equality for gays and lesbians. One woman had an interesting summary of the perspective, "Why should I care about health care for my one girlfriend? I want health care for all of my girlfriends!" Yes, it's a liberal view, but it speaks to the view that marriage is nothing but a game to scrape out a few extra dollars on insurance.

Your economic comments seem reasonable to me, but it is interesting how cultural momentum, rather than individual analysis, carries this line of thinking. The male versus female difference of interests doesn't apply in the gay case (at least not so directly).

Well if polygamy and getting

Well if polygamy and getting hitched for life at 16 is marriage on steroids, then the idea that marriage is for white people is a laugh.