Thursday, June 23, 2011

Social stress . . .

THE ROOT is a site devoted to the interests of African-Americans. Jenee Desmond-Harris has an interesting article, "Review: 'Is Marriage for White People?'". You may or may not be aware that black American society has been under tremendous social pressures in recent times, from a myriad of sources, like drugs, discrimination, changing technology and single-parent families.

It's a hell of a problem, and people like Bill Cosby have been calling for attempts to stop this disintegration. There are signs that maybe, just maybe, this has leveled off. But the problem affects different areas of black America in different ways. Consider that small minority of "successful" middle-class black females: finding a mate without the rap and bling and gangsta that has mesmerized black American males.

When titles for this book were being considered, perhaps Why Middle Class Black Women Can't Find a Man and How the Whole Problem Could Be Solved if They Would Just Marry White Guys didn't have quite the ring the publisher was after.

But that's pretty much what Stanford Law professor Ralph Richard Banks' Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone (in stores this September) is all about.

Is Marriage for White People? will have to answer to some of the same critiques, starting with the initial choice to dramatize the dilemma facing African-American women for whom "unmarried has become the new normal, single the new black," and blaming the "problem" on simple individual choices, instead of a complex set of issues with many causes, effects and stakeholders.

But we can tire of the way the issue is framed without boycotting attempts to get it right. And there are chapters nestled in the middle of the book that should be applauded for accomplishing Banks' stated goal: to tell the stories of single black women and "capture their lives as they experience it."

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