The State of Family & Marriage in the Black Community

By: Tamika L. Morrison

Let me start of by saying, “I am a single black woman, never married”, but I do desire and believe in family and marriage.  It has been widely reported, speculated and even breaking news in some arenas that black women are not marrying as often as or quickly as their Latina, White, Asian, Indian, Chinese and other varieties of ‘Anglo-Saxon’ counterparts.  As a matter of fact, Forty-two-percent of black women have never been married, compared to 21% of white women, according to national statistics. Within the last two generations, marriage rates for African-Americans have dropped significantly. Between 1970 and 2001, the black marriage rate dropped by 34 percent, compared to 17 percent in the general population. African-American women are also the least likely group to get married in the United States. And if they (black women) wed an African-American man, those couples have the highest divorce rate in the United States.  Is this a stereotype or is this reality?  Well, I can only speak from my own experience.

My parents never married – each other, but both of them are married today – to different spouses who are black.  That said, since I came from a single-parent home I have conflicting views at times on love and marriage from a black woman’s perspective but I was given the chance to witness what life is like in a two-parent household via friends that lived such a life.  Although I ached deeply for my dad’s constant presence in my home, I was also equally relieved he and my mother never married, simply because they weren’t compatible.  Even still, I and many of my friends suffered from what’s called “daddy issues” and when you compare those of us with “daddy issues” with my friends who actually grew up with their father, I must admit there is a remarked difference in how we feel about love and marriage. I personally am terrified that it won’t last until death do us part. Nevertheless, I will not allow this fear to stay in the way of what I desire for myself and my future family.

That brings me to two things – On April 2nd, Tyler Perry’s coveted sequel, “Why Did I Get Married Too?” will be released and will reunite four couples that deal with life-altering situations and common relationship issues to most couple – regardless of race – fidelity, trust, forgiveness and love.  Personally, I appreciate Perry humanizing the ‘black love experience’ by showing in his films – yes, we do still get married to each other and yes, our relationship issues are not uncommon to those of other races. It also helps to put to rest the media’s obsession with stereotyping what’s been dubbed, “The State of the Single Black Female”.  I’ve read and heard the movie reviews and many applaud Tyler’s sequel depicting Black love and marriage, congratulating the characters for showing depth in their respective interpretations and even the appreciation for some of the exaggeration in classic Perry style. I second the motion by praising Perry for giving Black love some positive PR.

There’s been a lot going on in the news lately.  I have to admit, the term “March Madness” has lived up to its reputation this year in particular from entertainment think (Howard Stern’s comments on ‘Precious’ breakout star and Sandra Bullock’s love woes) to politics Healthcare Reform (nuff said) and everything in between. But I’m happy to report as we Spring into April, (pun intended) Black couples will be marking the eighth annual Black Marriage Day, typically celebrated the 4th weekend in March, by attending workshops, black-tie dinners and other activities. Black Marriage Day founder Nisa Islam Muhammad is encouraging couples to renew their vows in front of friends and family in honor of Perry’s movie premier as well as participate in other planned events centered on celebrating Black love.

Even though my lens still bear the coloring of what I experienced as a child growing up in a single-parent household, I hold onto my convictions that Black love exists, contrary to popular beliefs, and I raise my glass in toast with everyone else celebrating because love – especially Black love – is a many splendid thing I look forward to!

Related News:

Why Did I Get Married Too – Trailer

Jill’s Scott’s Take on Interracial Marriage/Relationships

Black Marriage Day

Follow me @twsprfirm

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