Race Card: If Successful White Women Can Find Love, Then So Can Successful Black Women

Nadra Kareem Nittle
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The Pew Research Center's report about the rising number of women who make more money and have more education than their husbands is everywhere—from the Guardian to CBS News to the New York Times. The Times, in particular, stresses that an increase in the rate of female "breadwinners" actually benefits marriages.

In an article called "She Works. They're Happy," Times reporter Tara Parker-Pope writes, "Sociologists and economists say that financially independent women can be more selective in marrying, and they also have more negotiating power within the marriage. But it's not just women who win. The net result tends to be a marriage that is more fair and equitable to husbands and wives."

But, if this is the case, how do we account for the onslaught of news stories about black women's professional successes hurting their prospects for marriage? In December, both the Washington Post and ABC' s "Nightline" featured stories on this very issue.

In her profile of author Helena Andrews—"Successful, Black and Lonely," Post reporter DeNeen L. Brown remarks:

In a series of essays, Andrews documents the lives of so many young black women who appear to have everything: looks, charm, Ivy League degrees, great jobs. Closets packed full of fabulous clothes; fabulous condos in fabulous gentrified neighborhoods; fabulous vacations, fabulous friends. And yet they are lonely: Their lives are repetitive, desperate and empty.

So, successful women (which by default means "white women") can excel professionally and romantically, while successful black women are doomed to lives of desperation and loneliness because black men can't keep up with us. They're in jail, uneducated, too working class or on the down low.

I'm not buying it. If having more education and earning more money benefits the marriages of "women," why wouldn't education and money benefit black women in the marriage realm? Perhaps the Pew Research Center's report will shed more light on why just 33 percent of black women were married in 2007. To blame black women's singleness on their being more successful than black men falls short as an explanation in light of this new research. Moreover, there's an underlying misogyny to this reasoning. A number of factors likely contribute to low marriage rates in the black community, but the easy answer has been to point the finger at black women for daring to outpace black men. Black women, this logic suggests, have only themselves to blame for being unhappily unwed. If black women want babies and husbands (as these articles imply all women do), they must set their personal bar lower. Don't get that degree and turn down that high-paying job, this logic says. It's emasculating.

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3 Comments Have Been Posted

What about successful women who want wives?

...and successful men who want husbands? How do they factor into the Pew Center's report? Is anyone studying what the effects are on same-sex couples, since the economic downturn is supposed to affect us differently based on gender? (You know, since all men work in 'manly jobs' and all women work in 'womanly jobs.')

Too Rich or Too Thin

As a successful African-America woman, I have really haven't noticed the lack of available men of color. Of course, I date men of other nationalities. I guess I haven't noticed the drought because I don't fish the same stream over and over again. I like men. I like men, who are respectful, confident and secure. They come in a assortment of sizes and colors.

As women, we do ourselves a disfavor, by focusing what is not there. We have to deal with the downside of success. The lack of suitable partners is a downside. What to do? Keep building and growing your career or business. Forget about the great man hunt and enjoy your life. You can never be..come on finish the sentence with me as a modern woman "Too Rich or Too Healthy.

Right on, CarlaJ. When

Right on, CarlaJ. When professional, accomplished black women restrict themselves to dating black men, they're stuck-- there are states in the U.S. where 10% of the black male population is currently incarcerated, and in 2001, 1 in 6 black men in America had a prison record. Even if you ignore other factors that also show racial disparity correlated to social disparity-- like income and education level achieved-- you're still left playing a numbers game that says that black women who want to date black men are going to have to start dating guys who aren't as good as the women are, simply because there aren't enough criminal-record-free black men out there to date all the black women. College educated black women shouldn't have to look to the ex-con population for their dating counterparts. But to avoid that, they need to be ready to date men who aren't black.

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