black brides

After a recent report by the United Negro College Fund found that black women are enrolling in college at higher rates than every other race/ethnic group, the reaction was mixed. While many were elated to hear that sisters were strapping on their backpacks and hitting campuses across the country, others wondered if the spike in college enrollment was contributing to the lower marriage rates for black women.

Writing for the pro-interracial marriage blog, Beyond Black and White, Jamila Akil argues that instead of trying to get a degree, black women should be trying to snag a husband.

Akil writes: “Such high rates of black women attending college are, at least in part, due to so few black women being married. Perhaps, instead of seeking a degree, more black women should be seeking a husband?”

She goes on to explain:

Let me make myself perfectly clear, though: Black women who graduate from high school and have the aptitude for college-level work should almost certainly enroll in a college with the end goal of completing at least a bachelor’s degree. College degree holders still earn more money and have lower unemployment rates on average than non-college degree holders. Black women also need to attend college to build their social network. Black women with at least a bachelor’s degree are more likely than black women of all other educational levels to get married and stay married. However, attending college in their late 30′s, 40′s, or even later, or attending college to attain a graduate degree that wont boost their chance of being promoted at their current job is probably costing black women far more than they gain.

So let me get this straight: Black women who “have the aptitude for college” should enroll and reap the benefits (increased likelihood of marriage, higher incomes, more opportunities), but all others should just find a man and go at it Good Times style? Scratching and surviving?

Methinks not.

By now, we all know statistics can be viewed and interpreted in a myriad of ways. Or as Mark Twain once lamented,  “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”

And while it’s clear that some have latched onto the increased college enrollment rates of black women as an explanation for why so many sistas are single (uh, what happened to by choice?), I’d argue we should view things a bit differently.

Let’s set aside the personal gains black women receive from getting a college degree (i.e. higher incomes, career advancement, more opportunities) for a second. When it comes to marriage, the numbers of black folks and white folks who get married seems to differ due to one main thing: money.

According to Daniel Schneider, a Princeton University researcher, personal wealth influences who does and does not get married in this country.

PsychCentral reports:

According to Schneider’s analysis, about 30 percent of the racial marriage gap can be explained by wealth, while income, employment, and public benefits explains about 20 percent. The wealth effect also explains more than half of the gap in marriage rates between those with people who did not finish high school and those with college degrees. 

“In all, I find evidence to support the argument that wealth is an important prerequisite of marriage, especially for men,” Schneider writes.

“What people own, not just what they earn or know, shapes entrance into marriage and so may perpetuate disadvantage across generations.”

So if those who acquire more assets are more likely to get married, shouldn’t we encourage more people to go to college, not less?

Instead of wondering whether or not black women are going to college and making themselves all highfalutin and unmarriageable, we should be making college more affordable and encouraging more people—both men and women—to attend, not telling one group to slow down on the book learning to catch a mate.

After all, two broke people who get married are still broke. But two educated and professional, middle-class, married folks are one step closer to ending generational poverty and helping our kids become successful adults.

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  • hhi

    I agree about the financial literacy part. My dads highest education is a HS diploma and some college. Retired at 51 bought his second house cash. He didnt rely on students loans or even the military to establish a nest egg.

  • Nicole

    Why should we when many black men have proved to us black women that they aren’t able to take care of the family let alone themselves

  • JackieL

    I agree with the assertion that women should concentrate less on advanced degrees and more on finding a husband. Too many women waste their most valuable 20s working on advanced degrees that won’t make much real difference for them in the workplace. Even when they do equate to an increase in pay, they still don’t equal the raise in wealth that women enjoy when they marry. Women in their 20s should realize that they are at their prime and are in the best position to get married. Putting off searching for a husband until your 30s often means spending a lot of lonely nights at home with your cats. Many women will never get married or have children because they have passed their prime. What’s the point of having a ton of education when you can’t use it to educate and raise the next generation?

    Women, you can get a degree at any time. Stop wasting your time dating and cohabitating for years on end. Get married and then start working on your Master’s after you have your ring.

    • Jordan

      This is a ridiculous old world statement, that doesn’t apply with today’s standard of living. In order to achieve a nice standard of living, both parents are required to work. This isn’t the middle ages, women aren’t and can’t be tied to their homes, straddled with a child on their hips and rearing the household by themselves, while the husband gets to go out into the world.

      Advance degrees are NOT a waste of time, many women want GOOD PAYING jobs to help set them and their families (if they choose to have any) in the future, getting an education is NOTHING for women to be ashamed about at a young age, we fought long and hard to gain this amount of freedom, an educated populace helps cull the stupidity, educated women scares little boys such as yourself, who can’t handle a woman who can hold her own intellectually and pay the bills.

      You seem to want women to sacrifice their wants and desires so they can ‘GET THEMSELVES A MAN’. Because apparently getting married is a number one priority in the eyes of the traditional, insecure man. A woman who can challenge you intellectually? NONSENSE! A woman with a good paying job, making ends meet on her own or is the one bringing the bank instead of her BF/Husband? PREPOSTEROUS! A woman who isn’t co-dependent and wanting to wait until later to marry in her life or not at all and live… BY HERSELF!? ABOMINATION!

      See how ridiculous that is? I’d also like to interject that relationships are HARD and with marriage it’s even HARDER, as you’re practically BOUND to that person for the rest of your life, divorces are pricey and sealing your nuputials is just as expensive.

      Also the divorces rates are through the roof, so your argument on experiencing the “wealth of marriage” is bullocks. Obtaining degrees later on can prove quite a burden if you’re already married with a family, as you’re own wants, desires, needs and something even more precious TIME, goes completely out the window and by then, the want to go to college is probably not as strong as it used to be.

      And if we want to go to college at a young age and marry late, we fucking will, this isn’t a debate, plenty of women find mates (usually in college, go figure) or later in life no problem, sorry if the concept of an independent woman scares you, but your mansplaining won’t work here.

      Women aren’t a type of perishable fruit where we “go bad” after a few days, perhaps you should learn to see women as human beings rather than baby-making, brood mares with a pair of eggs and a shelf life, you misogynistic dolt.

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  • JJ truth

    NO black woman can afford to do that & risk becoming part of the coming permanent underclass that’s aimed at black people. Any black woman who dumps the opportunity to go to college to earn her degree is certifiably insane. With affirmative action destroyed & outlawed, a black high school graduate has not much chance to make a living. It’s McDonald’s, part-time work & rinky-dink employment for life. Take a look at the black male unemployment rate, look at all those unmarried black women trapped in low-paying jobs. Most us will not get those tuition reimbursement program many employers offer. Look at the unemployment rates for black people. Many black women have always had to work whether they were married or not ever since slavery work for black women never stopped. During the past many married black women worked as domestics, cooks, seamstresses & farm workers. Some were able to be housewives. But married black women HAVE ALWAYS had to work from time to time during marriage. Might as well be qualified prepared & skilled capable of earning a living.

  • nikky

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