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Vinny Tells All

Publication Date: 
May 03, 2012
CNN - Dr. Drew
Drew Pinsky

Professor Ralph Richard Banks sat down with Drew Pinsky of CNN's Dr. Drew show to discuss his book on the decline of marriage in the black community.

"Jersey Shore`s" Vinny, he is anxious, he has panic attacks and he`s here. Let me see what I can do to the panic in that boy. He`ll answer your questions and mine about a condition that affects millions. And I`ll tell you my own little secret about this as well. He might talk about Snooki as well.

Plus, is marriage for white people? That`s what I`m asking. What do you think? The man who wrote that book joins me.


PINSKY: All right. I have a question tonight. Again, we`re taking your calls at 1-855-DrDrew 5 where you can address this issue.

Does race matter when it comes to marriage and dating? I think we`re all aware that marriage rates are lower than ever in the United States, but African-Americans are the most unmarried racial demographic in the U.S.

My guest says he knows why Black women are single. Ralph Richard Banks is the author of the book "Is Marriage for White People?" And Rick, I have read your book, and I thought it was a very courageous effort. And, I`m going to -- so, you tell me if I`ve got your basic thesis correct. And that is that African-American women are becoming more successful, more competent, more advanced in their education and training, basically, than most Black men.

And those African-American men that are keeping up with them are so few that the marketplace basically determines that they don`t have to settle down, and they can date as many people as they want. Is that about right?

RALPH RICHARD BANKS, AUTHOR, "IS MARRIAGE FOR WHITE PEOPLE": That`s exactly right. I should emphasize, though, that the advancement of women is a good thing, right? The problem is really that Black men are faring so poorly. That`s true in terms of education, employment, and incarceration.

PINSKY: So, OK. So, you`re blaming education, incarceration, and education as to why Black men are being held back. Is that correct? I want to emphasize, black Women are flourishing, which is fantastic, though, we have our African-American men sort of not.

You know, I tell you, Rick, the one hot button in talking to my African-American female friends was when you talk about the issue of the men having too many options in the marketplace. And by the way, not just successful Black women, but also White women, they can date. They don`t feel any motivation to settle down.

BANKS: That`s exactly right. One of the goals of the book as well is to show that what we see with African-Americans is actually simply a more extreme form of what we see throughout American society.

PINSKY: That`s interesting.

BANKS: So, if we want to understand what`s happening throughout a society, we can look at the African-American experience to do that.


PINSKY: Rick, what do you say to that? Where is love in this equation? Go ahead.

BANKS: So, let me say something. So, love should be at the heart of the relationship, right? I mean, we agree to that. The reality, though, for your daughters, frankly, is that when they enter their college campus, they will likely find many more Black women than Black men, because twice as many Black women as Black men graduate college every year.

That`s just the reality nationwide. It`s 2-1. So, what many women do end up doing is end up marrying men who are much less educated and lower earning than they are, and sometimes, those relationships can work out, and that`s fine.

But I do want to emphasize that the data show that those relationships are actually more likely to have trouble --

PINSKY: Oh, that`s interesting.

BANKS: -- than other relationships.

PINSKY: I think you brought that up in the book.

BANKS: I did. And the broader point, really, is, again, not to tell people what to do, but simply to be aware that relationships across class lines can sometimes confront difficulties, because people are different.

When one person has a graduate degree or master`s degree or a law degree and the other person didn`t graduate from high school, say, or barely graduate from high school, that can be a divide between people.

And then on the other hand, I do want to alert people that having a relationship with someone of a different race should be seen as a possibility. And it`s a possibility for Black women just as it`s a possibility for women and men of all other races. There`s a whole world of people out there. And, Black women should not feel that they have to confine themselves to the universe of Black men.

PINSKY: Now, Rick, the tower behind you is the Stanford University clock tower, right? You`re a Harvard law professor, excuse me, a Stanford law professor, right?

BANKS: OK. That`s important.


ROLAND: You know, here`s what I believe. I do believe that marriage is for everyone, but most Blacks have had a rough start. So, initially, when you talk about slavery, Black men were taken away from the family. Then, you talk about the 1960s and Welfare Reform Act, where the men were allowed, you know, were not allowed in the house.

Now, as Professor Banks said, I do agree with him where he says that education and incarceration is a problem. So, now, do you believe that loyalty and history plays a problem in this?

PINSKY: OK. And Roland, I`m going to just paraphrase that. I think -- and I will throw it first to Professor Banks about whether history played a role in this and then to Demetria, what about our families these men are coming from? Professor Banks, go right ahead.

BANKS: So, let me just say that the marriage decline has many components, but one of the key facts is that through the middle of the 20th century, marriage rights were pretty comparable for Blacks and Whites.


BANKS: Let me say --

PINSKY: Go ahead.

BANKS: I agree with all of that. Men are men.

PINSKY: I think I`ve learned that here. I think that`s what come out of this conversation, so far.

BANKS: But I would like to add here, though, I mean, what makes a relationship work? I mean, a lot of times we get misty eyed about love. You know, what makes a relationship work does have a lot to do with commonalities that people share. Those are commonalities in terms of values, in interests, in terms of their vision for their life.

And, the fact that you are -- and so, those are important characteristics. You know, you don`t have to have someone of the same race to have those sorts of commonalities is one thing to remember.

And it`s also true that if you have someone who is in a very different educational, professional, social status space, they may have different values and interest in goals, and that can be a problem in a relationship.