Do black people get married? That question has been asked in one form or another in a series of news reports about the black marriage “crisis.” On the surface, such stories seem to be concerned about black women in search of love, but these media reports have largely served to fuel stereotypes about African Americans. Moreover, by suggesting that too few black men are available to wed, news stories on black marriage have done little more than predict doom and gloom for African American women who hope to marry.
In reality, black marriage isn’t reserved for the likes of Barack and Michelle Obama. Analysis of census data and other figures has debunked much of the misinformation floating around in the media about the black marriage rate.
The barrage of news reports about the black marriage rate gives the impression that African-American women’s chances of walking down the aisle are bleak. A Yale University study found that just 42 percent of black women are married, and a variety of high profile news networks such as CNN and ABC picked that figure up and ran with it. But researchers Ivory A. Toldson of Howard University and Bryant Marks of Morehouse College question the accuracy of this finding.
“The often-cited figure of 42 percent of black women never marrying includes all black women 18 and older,” Toldson told the Root.com. “Raising this age in an analysis eliminates age groups we don"t really expect to be married and gives a more accurate estimate of true marriage rates.”
Toldson and Marks found that 75 percent of black women marry before they turn age 35 after examining census data from 2005 to 2009. Moreover, black women in small towns have higher marriage rates than white women in urban centers such as New York and Los Angeles, Toldson remarked in the New York Times.
Getting a college degree is the worst thing a black woman can do if she wants to get married, right? Not exactly. News stories about black marriage often mention that more black women pursue higher education than black men—by a 2-to-1 ratio, by