It seems like we can’t go a week without seeing yet another article, blog post, or YouTube rant about what’s wrong with black women and why we’re doomed to be single. Everyone from psuedo-relationship experts to dudes around the way seems to be surviving off the myth that black women are the least desirable and least marriageable women on Earth — and, therefore, in need of saving (or charging $19.99 for stupid books)

But thank sweet, baby Jesus for actual research and women (and men) who aren’t falling for the hype.

Recently The New York Times published an op-ed by Angela Stanley, a researcher at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University. In her piece Stanley broke down the myth of “the single black woman” all the way down, so it can forever be broke.

I, like Stanley, like to deal in facts. Emotional outbursts and hyperbolic theories without facts do little to impress me. Over the course of the past few years, black women have been beat in the head by the seemingly startling statistic that 70% of us have never been married. Only, that’s only part of the story.

Stanley writes:

I’m almost positive the people in my life don’t mean to add to the anxiety I already feel about being single in my 30s without children. Implicit in some of their comments is the idea that my failure to marry is beyond my control, a function of being born black and female.

It’s not simply an unhelpful observation. This culturally popular notion that 70 percent of black women don’t marry is just a myth. For the last few years, I have been hearing from every source imaginable that the vast majority of black women will never marry. This never made sense to me because so many black women I know are married. And indeed, eventually, most black women do marry.

A look at recent census data will tell you that the 70 percent we keep hearing about has been misconstrued. According to 2009 data  from the Census Bureau, 70.5 percent of black women in the United States had never been married — but those were women between the ages of 25 and 29. Black women marry later, but they do marry. By age 55 and above, those numbers showed, only 13 percent of black women had never been married. In fact, people who have never married in their lifetimes are in the clear minority, regardless of race.

Stanley also goes onto highlight what many of us already knew: Young black men aren’t exactly jumping the broom either.

“With all the attention on black women, I had assumed that black men must be marrying in droves; otherwise they would be the focus of similar scrutiny. Not the case. Census numbers show that 73.1 percent of black men between the ages of 25 and 29 have never been married. That is actually higher than the numbers associated with black women.”

What’s curious to me, and Stanley, is why blacks are now the main focus of the “marriage crisis” meme. If we are just as single as our male counterparts, where are the articles and Twitter relationship experts that guilt men into feeling as if they have some sort of malfunction to explain their single status?

As with most things, I’d argue the reasons are financial. Playing upon the insecurities of women is big business. One look at women’s magazines tell us that women are conditioned to nit pick every single part of our bodies, our hair, and our personalities to be more desirable to men. The litany of “How to lose 10lbs in 2 days!” and “How to get the man of your dreams this weekend” litter magazines, so it’s no wonder that black women have become the latest target.

Thankfully, for every article and TV special examining the plight of single black women, we have spaces such as this and writers such as Angela Stanley (and many, many others) to push back against the foolishness and tell our own stories.

  • Jen

    Well done, only I think you intended to say “litany.”

  • LovelyT

    I’m glad that they are acknowledging it. I already knew that the data was being misrepresented and that it was only taking into account unmarried black women of a certain age group. Yup, we do marry; it may just be done a little later than the “average”.

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    I did. Thanks :) Damn those auto-corrects.

    ~britni

  • Timcampi

    Definitely said this on this site’s comments months ago. Finally someone else has noticed.

  • nic

    great article! fantastic magazine!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Glendon-Cameron/100000038058818 Glendon Cameron

    I wish I could say I was surprised. It seems 2009 was the year to do a “Jedi-Mind Trick” on black folk stats, that is the same year the HIV infection rates of black women was reported. If you look at the numbers for yourself you will also see that 50% number was also “enhanced” see the real numbers at the CDC’s website http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/aa/ just another example of why you should dig under the surface of any issue.

  • Whatever

    Thank you for posting this. I am so sick of hearing this mess about black women not getting married as well. Sometimes the numbers are just that… numbers.

  • fuchsia

    lol I swear I heard angels sing while reading this article. I love cold hard facts! And when I sit and think about it the majority of black women I know either got married in their early 20′s or mid 40′s. Also I guess it’s just our turn to be the hot topic. I remember when white women were the target of such statistics. Sex and the City was pretty much all about how crazy it was being a single white woman. Only difference is we don’t have a groundbreaking HBO series to laugh and shake our heads at. It’s all serious and insulting with us and that’s never fun.

  • QON

    I’s disappointed with the statistic. How will I shame black men and their unwillingness to marry black women but instead chose to amass a harem of loyal yet broken hearted single black mothers?

  • QON

    @fuchsia

    I think it is a bit more serious with us because we have kids. I mean Miranda ended up having a kid out of wedlock but then she was a lawyer making probably over $200,000 a year. She wasnt in poverty and waiting for the “gubmit” to help her out. She eventually married.

    Maybe if less black women had children while they were single and quadrupled their personal incomes, it wouldnt be that much of an issue.

  • Liz

    do you ever have anything positive to say?

  • QON

    @Liz

    Chill, I was just taking the piss out of some of the sistas here. Its all in good fun.

  • fuchsia

    The majority of Americans ARE in poverty right now. I believe the social divide has more to do with educated versus non educated. An educated woman who has a child out of wedlock regardless of color views the world differently once educated and may make the choice to have a child because she feels she is capable of raising that child on her own (with the support of friends and family) and without a husband. And a woman who is poor because she never finished high school and has more than one child with no father or husband will be in a different situation entirely mentally and financially, needing help from somewhere whether it be the government or her parents. The latter being no joking matter. We can’t lump all women (women of color included) who have children OOW into the same category. It simply isn’t the case anymore.

  • Whatever

    @QON

    “Maybe if less black women had children while they were single”

    It takes TWO. The single dads are to blame as well. The article stated there were just as many single women as there are men. Just like some of these women have children, so do these men.

  • http://homespunwisdom.wordpress.com Jamila

    “This culturally popular notion that 70 percent of black women don’t marry is just a myth.”

    That’s a nice slight of hand. I’ve NEVER heard it said or written that 70 percent of black women don’t marry, only that approximately 72 of black children are born outside of wedlock and that approximately 70 percent of black women are unmarried.

    Yes, most black woman do marry. However as the article noted, we tend to do it later in life and after we have already had children–often not by the men that we end up marrying–and so we miss out on many of the benefits of marriage for ourselves and our children when it comes to accumulating wealth and making sure that we have received all of the financial and legal benefits of marriage.

    Black women also have the lowest marital rates of any other group of women in this country.

    Why isn’t anyone imploring black men to marry? Because many black men are busy being players and don’t want to marry; there are more black women graduating from college than black women and more and more black women are choosing to avoid marrying ‘down’; black men want to get married too, but later in life and their desire to get married at 40 doesn’t jibe well with a black women’s biological clock and need to have babies at the healthiest age possible; more black men than black women don’t graduate from high school. Black men are a very ‘unmarriageable’ group of men and I think part of the reason why the drum is being beaten so hard for black women to expand their options in terms of interracial dating is because when many of the black women who now want to get married are actually ready to do so, there will be very few black men who are ready, willing, and able to be married to those black women.

  • Shan

    I love this article!!!!!! I’ve been saying this for years…Most of the women I know are married, getting married, in a committed relationship, or divorced…so I always wondered where the heck the statistics referring to black women not getting married came from. After I graduated from undergrad tons of my friends got married and had children and even more so during and after I graduated from law school.

    I love this article…and I am sending it out to my single girl friends now lol

  • Timcampi

    Is that 13% really bothering you that much…?

  • secret ninja

    thank you for this article!!!!

  • http://homespunwisdom.wordpress.com/ Jamila

    “Is that 13% really bothering you that much…?”

    It does bother me. But to be completely fair, marriage in America is at all time low for all groups, not just black women. Black women just have to have the lowest figures of them all.

  • Timcampi

    Fair enough, but it’s already been proven that marriage rates suffer when the economy collapses. It makes sense that we would suffer the most because our counterpart in male demographic tends to be financially un-secured. I’m not really worried about the marriage-ability of black women or black men. You can be the rankest, ratchetiest, janky person out there and there’s certainly going to be someone ready and willing to put up with your behavior. Bridezillas is just one show that constantly proves this.

    But I am worried about how much one is willing to settle for in order to get married and have children before the ‘due date’ is passed.

  • Timcampi

    Also you don’t know how many people in that 13% choose not to marry. I personally don’t want to marry or have kids. But if it happens it happens… though I rather it not. Ever. And let’s not exclude those members that are gay, lesbian, asexual and otherwise who currently haven’t had the right to marry their chosen partners.

  • Jen

    While we’re in the spirit of dispelling myths about black women, why not throw out there that black women are not “looser” than other races; in fact, we have smaller vaginas, on average: http://racehist.blogspot.com/2008/05/racial-differences-in-vaginal.html

  • HuesofHoney

    @whatever…they went from black women will never get married…and the stats…kept me in stitches….then.. to… you re ugly…that’s why you comin in last LOL on that one…cause that one was some nerve….Now they are on Black women having kids out of wedlock and even if you re rich…you better not have those babies. what! It’s really obvious and ridiculous.

    You have to laugh at it ….and just not let any of it influence you in anyway.

  • HuesofHoney

    I think it’s all bs…There are far more decent black men in America…than people would lead you to believe. Everybodys not marriage material either (education and money or no education and no money) and some people in 2011 just don’t want to get married….I think that’s your choice too. What these stats, stories and QON( the clutch house negro) fails to ever report..while brow beating black women….is that most marriages end in divorce these days…way more than not. Many people are and will be married multiple times…averaging under five years per marriage….we want go into social media effects on marriages these days… So, why is that so exciting?

  • Steven

    Sorry… But black African American women aren’t anything to be proud about or bring home to mother… Casual flings… That’s about it… Majority of them anyway

  • Whatever

    @HuesofHoney

    Excellent points.

  • Lainad

    I’m just going to throw this out there………

    I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but I wonder if the reason for all this (negative) attention is because of the Obamas. I wonder if it is the media saying” don’t you dare get any ideas – they (a nuclear, successful family) are an anomaly.” There is a social and economical benefit to keeping certain people ‘down,’ as we all know they hate the uppity Negro.

  • Mochacashmere

    Well, why are you on a site geared toward black women? You sound like some pitiful soul who got his hear broken by a black women. Please see a therapist and in the mean tie have a gym full of seats! _/ _/ _/

  • Mochacashmere

    *heart* *time*

  • Priceless34

    The media has already destroyed the image of the black man.
    They are now working on the black woman.
    Until we start standing up for ourselves and demand better representation on the media we will continue to be bashed at every angle.
    They are trying to divide us.
    Is it working?

  • QON

    @HuesofHoney

    Men control marriage. No need to convince women that there are good men out there. You need to convince men there are good women out there, good enough to spend the rest of your life with. I think men are kinda disappointed with the quality of women who are running about. They are voting with their feet.

  • Bunni

    Doesn’t help when we often tear each other apart via some of these websites and articles contained within. Ultra-sensitive regarding light-skinned vs. dark-skinned, “good hair”, vs. “natural”, etc. We have a tendency to make judgments regarding these superficialities, then grab on to a collective anger when the media outlets offer their theories on “what’s-wrong-with-the-Black-woman”. While the majorority of these articles (present one excludes) are total BS, we would be better served if we start/continue to uplift each other and stop letting the rest of the world tell us who are what we are.

  • Who’s that Girl

    I agree with your above statement. I think the Black race needs to come together and uplift each other. Lately, I have notice that the news does a lot of shows about our race. Sometimes, I feel like our race is under a microscope, and we are a source of entertainment for others in the news. I am always skeptical of statistics because they can be skewed towards a particular agenda. I am getting tired of hearing that 70% of Black women do not get married statistic, and I do not think this statistic has any relevance to my life. If I want to get married in the future, then I will. I think as a race we expose too much about ourselves in the wrong way that allows others to spin us in a negative light and make money off of our experiences. We need to take control of our own image.

  • iQgraphics

    All this story proves is the damage that one lone nut with a journalism *debatable* degree can do and the cause and effects of not doing due diligence.

    So one lone nut that needs a story to tell pulls data regarding black marriage statistical rates and omits the age range.

    Then another lone nut with a TV editorial job brings the story to life, also not researching the approximation of the original data…

    NOW WE ARE IN CRISIS!

    Black women everywhere now need to “think like men” and youtubers go on ranting spree about how they got it right (or not) and what YOU need to be doing…
    We runnin rampant, marrying other races and species…
    Hide yo wife, hide yo kids… (statically., not your wife)

    this is what propaganda looks like in full color, 3D, imax…
    You know how many fortunes were made off of this misinformation?

  • http://elegantblackwoman.blogspot.com Elegance

    I was really happy when I read the original article. I think they pick on women because they know so many women want to get married and some are willing to change and even lower their standards out of fear of not getting what they want.

    Plus, some scheming men want us to lower our standards and accept their bad behaviour. They support feminism in a perverse way by saying women don’t need to marry and they should raise children alone. Or they suggest polygamy and say that’s what is natural for Black men. These men benefit by having otherwise confident, successful women feel like they are failures and desperate.

    On the other hand, if the media focused on why the men aren’t married the men would just laugh. They think they have plenty of time to marry, some don’t want to marry at all, or they are unwilling to change anything about themselves. Many already have children so their biological clocks are not ticking.

    Maybe in a couple of years the media will focus on White women not getting married. They already sort of did that with Sex and the City.

  • markus

    I want to thank you as well, I’m a single black man and that help explain at 39 why I am not married and no children. I recently read an article about the 70% myth and yes if you research most numbers that include black people you will find a conspiracy that we seem to have a higher risk or higher number of everything negative, hmmmm! I wonder why, I want to also say that I love my black women, oops my apology! black Queens now if i can just find one that is ready to settle down and start a family I will try my best to make her the happiest woman on the planet or I will die trying. alright piece my people love you all. Keep hope alive along with the black culture LOL!

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