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Marriage and the Black Community

Three years ago I read an article in the Washington Post by Joy Jones entitled “Marriage is for White People” and the article talked to adolescent children who claimed that marriage was for white people. It went on to state various statistics, i.e. since the 1960’s the marriage rate for African American’s has continued to drop. Statistics such as this and others of its ilk about Black women and the Black community prompted me to ask why is it that marriage is not preached, instilled, taught, or encouraged in our community.

Having grown up in a two parent household, whose parents are still alive and together, I witnessed love, struggle, trials, and tribulations. I witnessed infidelity and counseling, and two people working together to create, grow, build, learn, and love---together. It is the reason why I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe in standing before God and repeating vows to merge your lives into one. I believe in the sacrament of the vows.

What I don’t believe in, is the recent trend of individuals getting older and therefore marrying out of fear of growing old alone. Or women who have never married and are more concerned about being able to share the experience of an “on my wedding” story and feeling left out and left behind by their girlfriends.

I have plenty of friends that have children, it doesn’t make me want to rush out and get pregnant so I can share the experience of a “pregnancy/baby shower/labor” story…its asinine and stupid. What works for one individual does not necessarily work for others. Envy and jealousy come into play in respect to marriage and children. Some women may never experience either, and in some cases may not wish to have those experiences?

Maybe this question is deeper than the black community. Maybe its societies fault, or Hollywood’s fault for glorifying shaking up and out of wedlock parenting as opposed to marriages and families. Don’t get me wrong, I know folks can be just as, if not more committed without marriage, but if you are a spiritual person, marriage is deeper than that piece of paper. It’s committing yourselves and making a promise to God.

We can go back as far as slavery and Willie Lynch and the separation of the black man from the family. We can discuss the excessive number of single parent house holds or we can talk about the fact that folks don’t really know one another prior to marriage. Yet during slavery days WE were not allowed to document our marriage, which is the significance of jumping the broom…a tradition still practiced in many African American weddings.

I know that there are a myriad of reasons as to why people are single and why people will cohabitate sans marriage. For some women it’s easier to live with him first, and before they know it its 3 kids and ten years later and if one person were to die, the survivor would have no legal ties to anything. Yes, I know that can be changed with a living will and what have you, but how many folks that are living together truly have their “paperwork” in order? However, each year the declining number of marriages, hits black women the most.

So if marriage is supposed to be “the big win” or the culmination/prize of a relationship, why then is it not revered in the Black community?

SassyScribe

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