ALL THE SINGLE LADIES
Black Men Want Commitment
More black men (43%) than women (25%) say they want commitment according to a poll of African Americans’ views of their lives and communities conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. It is surprising, even shocking, to say the least given the prevailing narrative that black women, not black men, want commitment. Seriously?
Some explanatory theories of this switch suggest: financial stability of women; men giving socially acceptable answers; and the possibility that we had it wrong. I’m sure you have a few theories of your own. I know I do. But what does it matter? It’s like asking, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg.” Regardless, one does not exist without the other.
Whether it’s black men or black women, our families and communities pay the price.
African Americans have the lowest rate of marriage of any ethnic group. Why? We don’t profit from our failure to marry, contributing to our fractured families and communities.
At the end of the day, it’s not about whether more black men or more black women are willing to commit. The reality is that we have yet to reclaim marriage as a valued right. Slavery took away marriage as a critical turning point in the black family life cycle. Slavery began the battle between the black sexes. Polls tend to add to the rift, causing black men and women to blame one another rather than examine slavery’s continuing impact on our intimate relationships. Awareness of the psychological residuals of slavery, not finger pointing, is what might energize African American men and women to marry and create healthy bonds of love and commitment. African American men and women must not miss out on commitment because we let the polls dictate our expectations and thus our possibilities.
United, black men and women can find a way to the altar. Divided, we’re stuck with slavery’s negative views of us as mates. Single, the black woman projects blame onto the black man and the black man projects blame onto the black woman. Both the black man and black woman should look behind them to slavery. Slavery dismantled black marriage. Post-slavery, racism and internalized racism play a role in the poor statistics on black marriage. Interestingly, the polls don’t account for the social structures that privilege some and disadvantage others.
Healing our relationships means dealing with slavery’s leftover baggage. Together we need to engage in meaningful and genuine conversations about our losses from slavery so we can repair our relationships. Marriage is an expression of our full humanity. It’s up to us to claim it.