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'Is Marriage For White People?': Stanford Law Professor's Views On Black Women, Marriage Deficit

Publication Date: 
October 19, 2011
ABC News - Nightline
Linsey Davis and Kinga Jank

Professor Ralph Richard Banks was featured on ABC News - Nightline for his book "Is Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone." Linsey Davis and Kinga Jank reported the story:

When it comes to black women and marriage, perhaps the only thing more disheartening than the dire statistics -- 70 percent of them are unmarried, studies have shown -- is the tedious conversation itself. But a new book adds fresh ideas and a new tone to the conversation, suggesting black women need to start looking for suitable mates outside their race.

"Many women would do well to expand their options in the same way people of other races have, and look beyond black men in their search for a partner," Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks told "Nightline." "Black women are the most segregated group in our society when it comes to relationships."


For his book, "Is Marriage for White People?", Banks conducted roughly 100 interviews with African-Americans about their marriage and dating ideals and experiences. His explanation as to why marriage rates are so low among black Americans is that there is a shortage of eligible black men.

"There's a social catastrophe going on in terms of black men," he said. "Imprisonment numbers, unemployment numbers, under-performance academically, these are crisis not just for African-Americans, but for the nation."


"Interacial marriages have actually been rising for everyone," Banks said. "Black women have fought the good fight. They have engaged in what one friend described as a 'noble effort,' trying to lift black men. That's praiseworthy, but at the same time we should recognize that, that strategy hasn't really worked."