I have been hearing this outcry since March 2003 when Newsweek did a cover story on the gender gap within the African American community. One of the key stats highlighted in that article was that 42.4% of African American women – with college degrees - are likely to never get married – particularly if they are waiting to marry an African American man. Another stat stated that 10% of African American men marry white women.
However, the latest popular statistic thrown around concerning African American women is that that 70% of them are single while 51% of all women in America are single. From the looks of things, it appears that marriage is rapidly becoming a thing of the past – in America anyway.
While I wish that marriage did not seem to be going out of style like an old pair of low-rise jeans, there is very little that can be done about it while we as a community are forced to combat the negative influences and images the permeate our social infrastructure today. It's a battle that seems impossible to win.
Five years ago, that 70% figure would have depressed the hell out of me. For I, like most women, looked forward to the day of getting married to the man of my dreams.
Who exactly was this man? Well, let's see, he was Black like me, kind, loving and generous. He also was smart, secure in whom he was, and felt even better by being in love with me. He loved family and took pride in his career. He was committed and focused. He possessed a spiritual connection outside of me. He received my love appreciatively as well as gave his freely. We would make a great partnership that would more than give Hilary and Bill a run for their money. We would be best friends with a tremendous amount of respect for one another. And the sex would be FANTASTIC!!!!!!
However that is a dream that has yet to be realized. But, unlike five years ago, I've grown quite indifferent and have learned to find value right where I am. I have made a decision to make the best out of my life with or without a man. I still feel attractive. I still socialize. It's cool. The world has not come to an end and I have a very full life.
I have the greatest child in the world. I don't have any interest in having additional children. I truly have much to be grateful for.
When I hear stats like this, I can't help but wonder is this pronouncement just another way to marginalize Black women. Think about it. 70% of African American women are single as in not married. It indicates that not only do Black men not want us, but no one else wants us either – at least this is how the insecure sistah could interpret this.
Here is my take on it. There is a whole big world out there. There are so many options for Black women to have a full life in addition to marriage. Again, always one to keep it simple, I am a big proponent of good marriage and a big opponent of bad marriage.
I have had more than one of my married girlfriends tell me that they wish they could trade places with me – my money is my own; I own my own home; I raise my kid how best I see fit; I dress the way I want; and I go where I want, when I want without having to "check-in." As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side.
Don't get it twisted; I could have easily been married at least three times by now. However, being older and wiser, I recognize I did both me and those potential life-long mates a favor. I am just not the same person I was 10 years ago. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. Hell, I am not the same person I was 5 minutes ago - just kidding.
My point is we are all growing and evolving and hopefully becoming better individuals. The ideal situation for many would be to meet the love of their lives so that they could "grow," together. Unfortunately, more times than not, that's just not the case.
I think that one of the reasons, Black women make up this statistic and feel so bad about it is due to their association with the Black church. If you are the typical Christian who is a member of a church, it is practically pounded into you that you are expected to get married. There can be so much drama surrounding this. When you are single, Christian and dating, you damn near have to wait to announce your engagement before letting anyone know who you are dating. Let's face it; the pressure to get married in the church can be intense. A good friend once told me it's because misery loves company.
One of the reasons,I stopped attending church was because of someone always asking me when I was going to get married. I felt the pressure and eventually allowed myself to feel desperate and depressed. I bought into the whole notion of the biological clock and other such nonsense. It was a mess. Hell, I was a mess and down right miserable.
While it wasn't the only reason I stopped going to church, it was a big part. My leaving was the only way I was getting to know what I was all about. Many will tell you that that is the problem with a lot of marriages. Many couples get married without knowing themselves first.
There is no "one size fits all" plan to the perfect marriage. And from what I hear, there is no such thing as a perfect marriage. Everyone is different and every circumstance is different. There are happy couples, just like there are less than happy couples. Like most of life, marriage is a crap shoot. Hopefully, with careful assessment and contemplation on the part of both people in the union, they can make the right decision.
For all my dear fellow single sistahs:
DO NOT LET THIS STAT DEFINE YOU.
You are Great, Powerful, Mighty and
Spiritual Beings with Dignity, Direction and Purpose!
Get busy with living now while you are single instead of waiting to do so with a man. I almost fell in that trap. I was so glad I was saved – from that trap.