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Insights On Marriage: Black And White

Publication Date: 
May 18, 2012
Palo Alto Online
Chris Kenrick

Professor Ralph Richard Banks is quoted by Chris Kenrick of the Palo Alto Online discussing controversy that has arisen over his 2011 book "Is Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone."

In his exploration of American marriage, families and children, Stanford Law School Professor Rick Banks doesn’t shrink from peering under rocks. His 2011 book, “Is Marriage for White People?,” provoked heated reaction, particularly in the black community, with its suggestion that African-American women — suffering from an acute shortage of similarly educated and accomplished black men — reconsider their historical avoidance of racially mixed marriage.

"You love it or you hate it," Banks said in a recent interview in a sunny lounge off the courtyard of the law school’s new Neukom Building. "Some of the hating was not hating the book per se, just hating the whole discussion of marriage, intimacy and relationships with a focus on African-Americans because that hits very close to home. It highlights issues that people are not especially eager to talk about."


"I wanted to figure out why there was this marriage decline even among the affluent, educated African- Americans — and I also found there’s this continuity between the African-American experience and the more general American experience," Banks said.


"This issue of black women expanding their options and looking beyond black men, that’s just a really loaded topic," he said.

"You’d think it’s kind of a feminist approach in a way, arguing that women should do what's best for them — that it’s not their responsibility to lift the men up and bring them along — but in fact that message is one many black women are uncomfortable with."