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Dating and Mating

October 19, 2011

I was watching ABC’s Nightline last night and there was a segment about a new book titled Is Marriage for White People? by Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks.  Mr. Banks writes about the statistics about
black unmarried women: 70 percent of them are unmarried – defined as either having never been married, divorced, separated or widowed – compared to 45 percent of unmarried white women.

In his book, Banks provides the results of roughly 100 interviews with African-Americans about their marriage and dating ideals and experiences. His explanation as to why marriage rates are so low
among black Americans is that there is a shortage of eligible black men. “There’s a social catastrophe going on in terms of black men,” he said. “Imprisonment numbers, unemployment numbers, under-performance
academically, these are crisis not just for African-Americans, but for the nation.”

So, his suggestion is that black females should look for husbands outside of their race.  Compared to other races/ethnic groups – 41 percent of Hispanic women, 48 percent of Asian women and 58 percent of Native American women in the United States – only 9% of black women marry outside of their race. Just for the record, only 8 percent of white women marry outside their race.

I haven’t read the book – but something about the title and theme made me somewhat uncomfortable. And, I think that it is this:  more than race, I think it is the cultural differences that can cause strain
in a relationship and impede the consideration of a serious, committed, lifetime relationship. I know this from personal experience.

In college, I had a mixed race, charming Cuban boyfriend who was a great dancer and who wanted to marry me when we both graduated. However, he informed me that because he was Cuban, he would, of course, have a mistress at some point after we were married and only if he could afford a mistress, as that was part of his culture. Fortunately for me, he informed me of this before I fell in love with him and before we got too serious (if you get my drift). I remember looking at him and thanking him for his candor and then explaining calmly to him that while that plan may be part of his culture – my culture frowned upon that arrangement.  Needless to say, I ended what was the beginning of a romantic relationship.

I’ve learned over time that – for me – I needed a partner who could appreciate a good chicken fried steak, use “y’all” instead of “you guys”, understand that country music tells the best stories about life, keep his word as it was his bond, shake hands with a firm grip and be able to mix and mingle with all walks of life. I happened to find someone within my own race who is the perfect match for me – but I know that there are men from other races who were raised in the South who would also understand and relate to my list.

So, my take on the whole interracial thing is this: When “looking” for a marriage partner, be open to any possibility but be wary of cultural differences that may not align with your philosophies or beliefs. I truly believe that those are the “deal breakers” rather than the color of anyone’s skin. Really.

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