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Real Talk: Are White Men The Answer?

Publication Date: 
August 09, 2011
Demetria L. Lucas

Professor Rick Banks spoke with Demetria L. Lucas of Essence Magazine to discuss his new book "Is Marriage for White People" and explained how he believes "socio-economic factors" play a critical role in why some Black women have stopped exclusively dating Black men.

Are you limiting yourself to Black men?

Remember that book I mentioned last Thursday, "Is Marriage for White People?" It was by Ralph Richard Banks, the Black Stanford law professor who suggested Black women stop exclusively dating Black men.

He wrote an essay for the Wall Street Journal yesterday. “Black women confront the worst relationship market of any group because of economic and cultural forces that are not of their own making; and they have needlessly worsened their situation by limiting themselves to Black men,” Banks said. “Black women can best promote Black marriage by opening themselves to relationships with men of other races.”

Instead of blaming Black women’s “attitude”, weight, high expectations, etc. for why 42% of Black women are single, Banks points to socio-economic factors that affect Black men such as the high incarceration rate, low pursuit of higher education, and limited economic opportunities. His essay about Black marriages is the only in my recent memory that was written by a Black man and didn’t blame Black women for the downfall of Black marriages. Yet, Banks’ received massive criticism from readers who found his suggestions preposterous.


Perhaps it’s time for unmarried Black women to consider what our loyalty is likely to fetch. During my interview with Banks for the September issue of ESSENCE, he pointed out, “if you’re a college educated Black woman, and you’re going to be with a Black man, most of you will be with men who are not doing well, who are less educated and earning less than you.”

Banks added: “The reality is... you have less in common with the guy you grew up with who’s driving the UPS truck and more in common with the White guy who sat next to you in history class in college.”


“If [a man] knows that you’re going to expand your horizons, he’s going to have to give you a better deal to keep you,” Banks said. “Your options outside the relationship determine what happens in it.”