Sophia Nelson has written an article regarding society’s pushing IRs on Black women:
“My nieces (the apple of my eye) are the product of a black father (my brother) and a white mother. Sure, my preference in life was always to marry a black man, and to see my brother with a black woman. That is normal. I think all of us if we are honest envision that we will marry someone who is most like us in terms of our culture, faith, values, and life goals. I always cringe when people are not honest that we are all basically raised to stick with our own kind. Particularly black women more than any group on the planet.”
“Lest I find my own Peter Edelman in the world (he is the white, Jewish husband of legend Marian Wright Edelman, Children’s Defense Fund) who understands my unique journey and responsibility as a black woman in America. They married in the 1960s–at a time when black marriage was illegal in the south. She hailed from Mississippi and he worked for RFK in the Justice Department. They are married still. I believe they are soul-mates, in part because he was/is an active participant in her fight for justice, equality, and liberation for poor children in America. Very rare to find a white man who can marry a sister like that and support her 100%.
‘But I must say that I have evolved on this issue in a deeply personal way over the past year, so much so that it surprises even me. I have realized that black men and women need to RETURN to one another, UNDERSTAND one another, and HEAL with one another. It is time for us to LOVE one another and BUILD our families. It is a national tragedy that so many beautiful, kind, loyal, and good black women are being left to live alone and die alone. It is the root cause of so much pain, hardship and brokenness for sisters everywhere. Much of it caused by damaging stereotypes and myths about who black women are.’
Our ancestors paid such a price for us to get to this point. Our black grandmothers and grandfathers endured hate, cruelty, and hardship so that we could have better for our children. Yet, so many of us confuse integration with assimilation. And that is a problem. Sisters don’t be deceived dating a white man is not the silver bullet cure all for what ails you. They are men still. Fraught with challenges, opinions, and all the normal guy stuff. And if you choose to date or marry one, be forewarned that you will spend a lot of time dealing with hair questions (why don’t you wash it everyday, why don’t you swim, etc.), family questions, cultural issues, why this and why that. You will be asked to “get over” the black stuff–and you will be challenged that your view of the world as a black woman is somehow not reality and that you are “making it up”. Interestingly, you will not have many questions because you have to be black in a white world everyday. YOU GET IT! The challenge is he often WILL NOT!
Or like Halle Berry found out some will have issues with their kids being called “black” when they are 50% white. Like Halle, I believe in the 1 drop rule–I did not invent that rule–America did–white men did. Just saying.
My point is this–yes, there are 1.8 million more black women than men. Yes, there are more women than men on the planet. So??? People are still happily dating, marrying and thriving in love. I just am a bit concerned that the purported solution to our problems as black women now is said to be “dating a white boy”. I disagree. Black love is still alive and well. How ironic that black women would turn to white men for love and comfort after our journey began here 400 years ago being raped, dishonored, and owned by white men. I know that no-one wants to go there. But we need to go there sisters. We need to take our definition as “woman” back and heal ourselves so we can love our men, and they can love us in return (yes they need to heal too and they have issues too!). This is far more complicated that we want to deal with.
The key is do we have the courage to work at it–and realize that we have so much to give one another before we all run off and say I need a white man, white woman, brown man, brown woman, red one, yellow one, whatever. Conquer YOU first and the rest will follow.”
It’s very ironic that mainstream media is pushing IRs on Black women, given our painful history. When we push back against it, we’re being called “racist”, or “bigoted”, blind to their own prejudices. They just project their longstanding racism/ethnocentricism onto us, scapegoating us while they believe in their arrogance and lies with ease.
Statement from Author & Women’s Advocate Sophia A. Nelson, Esquire:
A new book written by Stanford University Professor Ralph Richard Banks titled, Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone (in stores this September) is causing quite the stir. The provocative, headline-grabbing book (ironically inspired by former DC school teacher Joy Jones about her conversation with an African-American sixth-grader who suggested that marriage was in fact for white people) uses United States Census Bureau Data to analyze marriage patterns and trends of “middle class blacks”. The book comes to the controversial conclusion that black women (professional upwardly mobile black women being the most affected group by the so-called marriage gap) should turn away from black men and instead marry out-side of their race (emphasis on turning to white men).
Let me be unequivocal as someone who just wrote a top-selling, award nominated non-fiction book (riddled with groundbreaking never before done research and expert analysis) about the lives of 21st Century black women (which included black men in that research as well as white men and women, Latinos) that Professor Banks is just dead wrong in his analysis and conclusions. There is NO silver bullet for Black Women in America to address the “marriage gap”-“wealth gap”-“health gap”-“love gap”-“Wellness gap”-“Career gap”. PERIOD. Dating white men, is the least of what will save us as black women and give us the fulfilling lives we seek.
Bank’s book like many others before it, once again uses a provocative title, that draws the attention of the mainstream white media, major news outlets and radio to signal that something is broken and amiss with black love, black relationships and black families. It is not. In our study a full 33% of black men and women were happily married, thriving, raising their kids and building lives together. The truth is this: There can be no meaningful analysis of marriage trends between black men and women without dealing with the total experience of black people in this new generation and over the past 40 years.
What ails black women, is what ails all of us in the black community. Lack of financial resources to help our families, lack of equal opportunity in the workplace, lack of self love and care, lack of spiritual connectedness, lack of healing, lack of forgiveness, and lack of belief in ourselves that we can be together as black men and women, build families, and build communities as our ancestors did under the pain of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights era. The majority of us in the black community are not middle-class and not well educated. And Banks is right to consider what is going on with those of us who are in the “professional” class. My book, like Bank’s book narrowly focuses on the black educated middle class (for me it was women) because it seems to be the demographic struggling most with healthy dating, lifestyles, and marriage. Professional black women are the most talked about, studied, and ironically invisible group of women in the United States.
Where Banks goes amiss is that, unlike what I wrote in“Black Woman Redefined” he does not get to the WHY black relationships may be in peril, and he does NOT offer a real tactical and meaningful way OUT of the situation at hand for black men and women. This is where we part company.
1. Our families and children are at stake and although I write in chapters four and five of my book that black women must indeed expand our dating options ( I am in love with someone Male and Caucasian)-I am not prepared to, nor would I ever suggest that we should “abandon” black men, lower our standards, date “beneath” ourselves, or worse.
2. To suggest that we do so means we are giving up on 400 years of history and I cannot sign on to that.
3. Moreover, to suggest that if sisters date out the race, brothers will come running back to us is silly at best. Our issues as black women must be addressed outside of whatever is going on with black men.
4. Fact: we as black women despite our many successes are still trying to deal with low self-image, anger issues, sexual abuse and abandonment issues with our fathers, obesity, depression, and more that runs much deeper than what Banks is peddling for his 15 minutes of fame and media attention.
If the black community wants to have a serious discussion about how we care for, tend to, and heal our broken relationships, family structures and the like, Black Woman Redefined and a host of other well written, positive, affirmational, instructional books are the place that discussion can and should begin. As for Professor Banks, I am disappointed that someone with so much to offer is offering our children and young people an outlook that is bleak, negative, and damaging to the future of the black family.
Sophia A. Nelson, Esquire is a journalist and author of the new non-fiction book, “Black Woman Redefined: Dispelling Myths and Discovering Fulfillment in the Age of Michelle Obama (Benbella May 2011).