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'Is Marriage For White People?'

Publication Date: 
November 02, 2011
Source: 
Chicago Tribune
Author: 
Dawn Turner Trice

Professor Ralph Richard Banks is quoted by Dawn Turner Trice of the Chicago Tribune on his new book, "Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone" and the reaction he's gotten from African American women on it.

Before Ralph Richard Banks came to Chicago recently he said he'd encountered black women — including his own two sisters — who met his new book with suspicion and contempt.

They dismissed "Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone" as just another depressing relationship manual, about how to find Mr. Right and turn him into a husband; and how the black family is under siege and it's the black woman's job to soldier forward.Before Ralph Richard Banks came to Chicago recently he said he'd encountered black women — including his own two sisters — who met his new book with suspicion and contempt.

...

I've heard from more than one person who has said it's another attempt to blame black women," said Banks, a Stanford law professor. "They say, 'We've heard this before. I'm so tired of that.' One woman told me, 'I'm going to avoid your book like the plague!'"

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He said studies show black women are least likely of any group to date interracially, but they should relinquish the notion that they have to rescue the brothers, or save the race. They should explore the rainbow, as quite a few of their black male counterparts have done.

...

He told the group that this type of power struggle isn't particular to blacks.

"On college campuses where men (no matter their race) are scarce, they also have relationships that are less monogamous," he said.

"People argue that racism has produced many of the disparities and the way to fight it is to come together and build strong families. But that effort has failed."

...

Banks, who teaches on family law and race matters, will tell you that he didn't write an advice book, and the title comes from an article a journalist wrote about a visit to a class of black students.

"The students were talking about learning how to be good parents and (the journalist) said, 'OK, I'll bring in some married couples,' and one child said, 'We don't care about the marriage part, we want to know about parenting,'" Banks said. "And another child said, 'Yeah, marriage is for white people.'"

Banks said he was troubled by the sentiment and decided to examine it as a question: Is marriage for white people?

He told me that he wrote the book out of his frustration that most books on marriage were written about whites. And books about blacks have focused on the "underclass," where the marriage gap is the most pronounced.

"There was nothing about the black middle class that connects the experience of blacks to other Americans," said Banks.