Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone

Ralph Richard Banks, Author
Ralph Richard Banks. Dutton, $25.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-525-95201-5
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-101-47564-5
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-101-46730-5
Paperback - 289 pages - 978-0-452-29753-1
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Banks, a Stanford law professor, examines why black Americans maintain the lowest marriage and highest divorce rates in the nation, focusing most sharply on the high likelihood a black woman will remain single, a product of the scarcity of black men in the marriage market, their number depleted by high incarceration rates. This "man shortage" leaves those who are available in high demand and with less impetus to commit to one woman. In the U.S., wives earn a larger percentage of the household income than ever and are more likely to have completed college than their husbands. This trend is most acute among African-Americans , which coupled with how African-American women outperform their male counterparts contributes to the high African-American divorce rate. Banks suggests that black women should stop being so willing to "marry down" and consider "marrying out"—marrying nonblack men. Such a choice restores equality to black male and female relationships by depriving black men of the power they enjoy as the result of being scarce commodities. Furthermore, Banks argues provocatively, "for black women, interracial marriage doesn't abandon the race, it serves the race." Peppered with interviews and candid opinions about marriage and relationships, this is a surprisingly intimate scholarly work; the sobering topic is tempered by the author's easy-to-read, captivating style. (Sept.)
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