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Book Review: Is Marriage For White People? By Alice Short

Publication Date: 
September 29, 2011
Los Angeles Times
Alice Short

Alice Short of the Los Angeles Times reviews Professor Rick Banks' book, "Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone," in the below article.

The provocative title of Ralph Richard Banks' new book — "Is Marriage for White People?" — will undoubtedly prompt a wide range of reactions. But even though Banks examines the state of matrimony for all Americans, a primary focus of his work is the decline of marriage among African Americans ("the most unmarried people in our nation"), and it is black women who have commanded much of his attention.

"Nearly seven out of every ten black women are unmarried, and as many as three out of ten may never marry," Banks writes. "For black women, being unmarried has become the new normal."


With all that baggage, why wouldn't a well-educated, professional black woman be ready to marry outside her race?

The reasons, Banks says, are numerous and complex, wrapped up in centuries of history, stereotypes and tradition.

He points to:

•Black women who fear marrying outside their race would betray their fathers and grandfathers.

•Black women who fear that a white man's family won't be accepting, or fear that their families won't accept a white male. "In my interviews with black folks throughout the country, I again and again confronted this unmistakable marker of continuing racial division: Many black parents don't want their child to marry a white person because they don't like white people." History yields countless reasons for distrust.

•The ugly legacy of slavery in America: Many black women, Banks says, "associate white men's attraction to them with the twisted sexual relationships that often developed between master and slave."

•Fear of being seen as an "exotic adventure."

•A lack of shared perspective.