Race Card: If Successful White Women Can Find Love, Then So Can Successful Black Women
The Pew Research Center’s report about the rising number of women who make more money and have more education than their husbands is everywhere—from the Guardian to CBS News to the New York Times. The Times, in particular, stresses that an increase in the rate of female “breadwinners” actually benefits marriages.
In an article called “She Works. They’re Happy,” Times reporter Tara Parker-Pope writes, “Sociologists and economists say that financially independent women can be more selective in marrying, and they also have more negotiating power within the marriage. But it’s not just women who win. The net result tends to be a marriage that is more fair and equitable to husbands and wives.”
But, if this is the case, how do we account for the onslaught of news stories about black women’s professional successes hurting their prospects for marriage? In December, both the Washington Post and ABC’ s “Nightline” featured stories on this very issue.
In her profile of author Helena Andrews—“Successful, Black and Lonely,” Post reporter DeNeen L. Brown remarks:
In a series of essays, Andrews documents the lives of so many young black women who appear to have everything: looks, charm, Ivy League degrees, great jobs. Closets packed full of fabulous clothes; fabulous condos in fabulous gentrified neighborhoods; fabulous vacations, fabulous friends. And yet they are lonely: Their lives are repetitive, desperate and empty.
So, successful women (which by default means “white women”) can excel professionally and romantically, while successful black women are doomed to lives of desperation and loneliness because black men can’t keep up with us. They’re in jail, uneducated, too working class or on the down low.
I’m not buying it. If having more education and earning more money benefits the marriages of “women,” why wouldn’t education and money benefit black women in the marriage realm? Perhaps the Pew Research Center’s report will shed more light on why just 33 percent of black women were married in 2007. To blame black women’s singleness on their being more successful than black men falls short as an explanation in light of this new research. Moreover, there’s an underlying misogyny to this reasoning. A number of factors likely contribute to low marriage rates in the black community, but the easy answer has been to point the finger at black women for daring to outpace black men. Black women, this logic suggests, have only themselves to blame for being unhappily unwed. If black women want babies and husbands (as these articles imply all women do), they must set their personal bar lower. Don’t get that degree and turn down that high-paying job, this logic says. It’s emasculating.
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