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Comments — 49 Comments

  1. When I was a student in Nigeria in the 70’s, I went home to my room mate’s village for vacation. There was in the village an Igbo doctor and his doctor wife. The wife to me look so out of place. I asked my friend their story. She said it was typical one. This physician had schooled in Romania and came home with his wife. She said that this is what the “bentos” do. The wife becomes proof of where he had been to.
    I asked her if the women who school abroad came home with white husbands too? She told me no. Why I asked? She didn’t exactly know why, but just that it was taboo.
    After reading your book, this memory came back to me. Mostly because I understood what my friend was saying on a level that seemed to traverse ethnicity. I too was raised with this idea that laying with a white man was tabo for me as a Black woman. Some how this notion of sex with a white man was a sexual tabo for me too.
    Have you given any thought to the notion that some of the Black woman’s resistance to marrying outside the race may be the deeply ingrained folkways and norms with which we have been raised. Not those political notions of saving the race, nor the vestiges of slave rape notions. But simply that this is not what we do.Just like my friend said I don’t know why, but that’s the way it is. Maybe these cultural sexual norms are a major part of my generations resistance to out of race marriage.
    Good work! Thought there may even be another aspect to this interesting subject.

  2. I end up with questions and I’d love feedback.
    Why are consecutive relationships among black men readily accepted, and never EVER addressed?THis seems to me to be the issue your book reveals but really doesn’t address. NOT EVEN WHEN IT IS A NATIONAL HEALTH ISSUE? In Jamaica 99% of all deacons and preachers have ‘outside’ children. This leaves women never expecting intimacy or monogamy. They elect to have multiple ‘baby fathers’. I have also learned that the majority of black men I know , had their first sexual experience at a very very very young age, always initiated by the woman, usually a cousin or family friend. My theory is that it is some ignorant way to think they are preventing homosexuality. I have never met a woman who has admitted this practice to me. In my world, this first impression is child abuse (called force ripe in the islands), a formula for the inabilty to experience intimacy, EVER. The black MACHO image is upheld by the black community and is still idolized and spilling into mainstream white culture . Very little is done anywhere to break this down. Most black woman I know consider their INTIMACY as their relationship with their kids and mom which alienates black men even further.They are the first to run to mom and family after a mariatal disagreement . My experience is that white people are embraced into black families more readily than the reverse. If you were a white man knowing that a black woman is many times more likely to carry/transmit a sexual disease and many times more likely to have a family that would alienate you, isn’t her appeal diminished? EVEN if she is a great breadwinner? To add to this, the majority of black woman have kids already and expect any man who enters their lives to be an instant dad. Most affluent white men would reject this. As an interacial couple I have lived in NYC, Fl,St Croix, Jamaica and have traveled a bit….NYC is the only colorblind place I know. I believe the issue needing urgent addressing is black mans’ entitlement to concurrent relationships and societies’ acceptance of it.

    • I agree with you that it seems like we put a search light out on the ‘issues’ affecting Black women but we never get around to adressing what’s going on with Black men. That was one of my critiques of the book. I don’t even need statistics to tell me about the pathologies that have developed between Black men and women, nor do I need to turn on tv. I know from personal life experience. And it continues to be mind-boggling how much we don’t talk about it from that standpoint.

  3. Just finished the book…. What a lot to think about! As a 25 year old black woman, I must admit that I was slightly disheartened about the thoughts and comments from black men in the book; though not surprised. I see it everyday and have male friends that boast about the power have to dictate their relationships with black women. I hope more men actually pick up the book to gain a more empathetic perspective and understand that they too are part of the problem.

    • I have friends too who have the most laissez fair about misleading and using women. I have one friend in particular who I always try to get him to see how what he’s doing effects the women he dates/encounters ever so briefly, but to no avail. It frustrates me but then it makes me sad because I know that so many young women, just like I did, are coming into a dating arena that they are not even prepared for, one in which they’ll encounter men who were groomed to recognize and exploit thier weakness for their own personal benefit.

    • Not only do Black men tell others they “Brag about their abuses towards” women. Its us to us to “Defuse it” by dating/marrying out and refusing the behaviors! Recently a co worker of mine (marginal man) who has 2 OOW kids, little education, been married 3 times married yet another White woman. He went after several accomplish Ivy leagues types with large bank accounts and “Got angry” becuase they wanted their equal. He was angry and bitter but soon found an overweight White woman in her 50’s who wanted to be married that accepted him “as is”, he quickly become ill and now is not working and living off her!

      He can’t say what his illness is but he “Bashes IR BW” for dating White males while he’s on his 3rd marriage unattractive White woman who’s never been married.

  4. Procative Title & Intersting Theory! You provided a lot of statistics that I was aware of but that still startled me. It will be interesting to see how the ideal of marriage will continue to change over time in America and to see if more black women end up in interracial relationships. A great book to read to create dialogue!

  5. I love the whole entire book. A lot of times some black women do sttle even though they are educated. Its sad to say some black men are in and out of prison. Number one reason fewer jobs without a college education. Second reason there is no father figure in the home. I love black men and I will continue to support them. We need this issue to be discussed in NYC forum this is a serious issues. Thanks Professor for caring about black women this book put me into tears.

  6. I thought that this whole idea of encouraging Black women to rethink their ideology about interracial dating was new and useful. I agreed with the concept. The only thing I would’ve wanted to see was the author get more personal and share more of his personal thoughts, experiences, admonishments. I think that if he’d taken that risk, it would have made the book really really good.

  7. i am a young black male who will soon start dating outside of race. i feel that young black women have lost their value. all black women do is complain, dont want to work or clean just sit in the house all day with the baby then wonder why they dont have anything. black women have way to many expectaions as the relation grows but dont discuss the future expectations with there partner they just expect it to go how they invsion it. the thing that irks me most is that they wake up and go to sleep with an attitude, they get irritated real fast and their emotions get the best of them. man i get tired of just thinking about it im so fed up with dating black women i might just stop dealing with them. lets not even talk about club or bar scene most black women i meet going out if they dont roll they neck and patting that weave the 1st thing they say is can u buy me a drink, then when i go to a white bar setting the white women usually offers to buy me a drink either before or during the conversation

    • Please don’t use this forum to disrespect Black women any further than you already have. If you want to date other races, that is your choice. Perhaps you should read the book again and really try to grasp what the professor is trying to teach all of us. We’re here to open up intelligent dialogue and come up with the solution for single Black educated women who face the challenges of finding a suitable mate due to the lack of suitable Black men available. By bashing Black women, you make yourself one of the undesirable Black men that’s mentioned in the book. So let’s not bash and instead let’s think and discuss the issue.

    • David,
      I think you have to learn to be more discerning about black women. Perhaps a change of scenary or environment can help you see black gems. The club or bar might not be the best place. Also, you may need to look at the man in the mirror because your own demeanor may be a turn off to a quality black woman. However, I contend that a black man who turns to white women for reasons you have outlined are not black men that a “real” black women would want; hence the reasoning for higher expectations. Many black men who turn to white women are not up for the challenge of realizing their full potential; therefore, settling for someone more conforming and docile, unfortunately.

  8. I read your book within one day. I couldn’t put it down. I am a childless Ivy educated and advanced degree African American female professional. I am engaged to marry for the first time (at age 60 )to an African American male who dropped out of college back in the 70’s. He’s so smart, yet so satisfied with just getting by. Our stuggle, since we met a decade ago, has been one of reconciling divergent values. With extensive and intensive couples’ therapy we are resolving the issues so clearly delineated in this book. We are inventing a path to the altar. Having said that, I don’t recommend younger women follow my
    example. If you want children, consider “outmarriage”. The black relationship market won’t be fair as long as there is a surplus of women rather than a surplus of men.

    • Thank you D.A. for your honesty. Most of the time this kind of knowledge fails to be transmitted between mothers-grandmothers-daughters-aunts-nieces because folks just don’t want to be vulnerable and don’t want to look like they’ve failed at something. So I appreciate that.

  9. Excellent read! I am so glad I read this book. As a 27 year old African-American woman, I often try not to think about having it all- awesome career, beautiful marriage and children with an African-American man who adores me, because given the statistics, it’s not likely to happen. After reading this book, I’m encouraged that I can definitely have it all- it just might not be with an African-American man and that is OK. I don’t have to live my life by the norms and social taboos that black women have been dragging around for generations when it comes to “standing by” our men. Sharing the same values is more important than sharing the same ethnic background. I truly believe that I can still love and support African-American men, but live a happy and fulfilled life married to someone outside my race.

    • Your so smart for moving on. I really thing if Black males cared they would do something about their plight. Don’t wait for Black men and don’t lower your standards,most women don’t get anything but used in the end. Your struggling to care for chidlren by Black men are chasing and living off anybody who will accept their sorry state!

      Sorry but it won’t be me!

  10. There are a total of 286 pages of which 11 Chapters make up 181 pages. From the Afterword to the Index..105 pages..nearly 40% of the book is filler. Mr.Banks addresses the same redundant topic of failed black relationships based on high black male incarceration rates,homesexuality and a lack of educated black men. He equally bashes both black men and women by perpetuating negative stereotypes. In Chapter 4 (The Market) Mr.Banks protrays blacks as promiscuous and disease-infested. In the final chapter of his book “SAVING BLACK MARRIAGE” Mr.Banks says..”For black women, interracial marriage doesn’t abandon the race, it serves the race. How on EARTH does that save Black Marriage???? He puts more of an emphasis on education and social class as factors for why black women and men of other ethnic groups may be more suitable in terms of relationship compatibility. I find it appalling that a Black Standford Law Professor would think that interracial relationships are beneficial to the black race…NONSENSE!!! I am so sick of this notion of caucasians being regarded as “THE GREAT WHITE SAVIOR”. White Masta’…coming to the rescue! I have NEVER heard a white man recommend interracial dating to white women or encourage such dating practices in an attempt to preserve the institution of white marrigaes. The book also fails to address the underlying and systematic breakdown of Black Marriages which originated from SLAVERY. Not to mention the generational effects of the Willie Lynch Syndrome. It would of been nice if Mr.Banks talked more about his own marriage. In Chapter 6 (POWER WIVES) would have been a good opporunity for him to discuss his wife and their relationship in contrast to the couples mentioned in the book. Instead he addresses an income gap and financial disparity between Black couples. It is my belief that Mr.Banks objective is to sell books and make profit$. Overall, I thought the book had a very negative tone and offered no real solutions to the African American Marriage Decline other than “JUNGLE FEVER”!

    • While I understand what you’re saying here, I don’t agree that that is what he was trying to communicate in the book. The summarization of what he’s trying to say, in my opinion, is more like “Ladies, I know this portrait of Black American relational life looks grim, but you guys have options. Feel free to start excersizing them.” And that to me is acceptable.

      And I know the whole ‘great White hope’ invocation can be enough to make your blood boil; I hate it too. But I don’t think he’s painting interacial dating with one glorified brush, as if to imply that Black on Black is somehow inferior by comparison. Again, I just think he’s presenting it as an alternative to the mistreatment that Black women commonly and continually endure, but we feel like there’s no other option. And I say we, because I include me in it.

    • I agree with you compeltely. I feeled that the author failed to offer any real solutions to the pervasiveness of “dysfunctional” Black reltationships and marriages. This book does have an overall negative tone, and implies that the only way Black women will escape the world of singlehood is to marry or date out. You mean to tell me there’s no hope for Black men and women to be with one another? I don’t believe it. While I do agree that Black women could very much benefit from dating out, how does that solve the problem of Black marriages. Im my opinion, this book does no justice to the Black community. Instead it reiterates the already existing negative “truths” about Black relationships. I was expecting a book that debunked these so called “truths” and offered a positive and modern evaluation of Black relationships. I will not be recommending this book to any of my Black female friends!

    • Profit or FACTS?

      He really didn’t put anybody down, he simply stated the facts!

      It is what it is, even if you don’t like it!

      Funny, how these black males have no qualms living off educated Black women while they disrespect claiming you want to be the “Man and Woman” in relationships because their angry they have’n’t worked on their lives

      I don’t feel sorry for Black males

  11. I see the African American population in America and my heart bleeds for the children because fathers especially can’t keep it in their pants. I think the saddest statistic I got from the book is that black men who earn a good salary are less likely to be married than their White counterparts. Guess why? They got money, they can dip it around. I think this book is about tough love lesson to the Black man especially: Get your act together or the black woman will find love in another race. I see beautiful, intelligent black women in America who deny themselves happiness because they only look in one direction yet not much is coming out of it.

  12. I think books like these are misleading. Either that or I live in the land of Oz! Some states do have high incarceration rates and or folks on parole or probation.

    As a former Senior Exec of African Heritage. I can tell you the bias towards black men of every educational ilk. Runs rampant in most of corporate america (small “a” for a land that lacks opportunity).

    Whether you graduate or not, whether it’s grad school or high school. The system is in place to freeze you out. Most don’t even realize it or fail to see it coming.

    Those so called, “living the good life men”, out there. Run so scared at the highest levels of the business community. They are afraid, that one miss-step, something so trivia, can cost them their, job and or career.

    Now that’s something the others, including black women do not need to fear.

    The systems knows, that keeping our children un or under educated. Via lack of books, good teachers and good, caring and great at time mgt. parents. This works in favor of the slave labor market, of the so called mass incarceration.

    Statistic’s prove, that minority men are incarcerated far more than any other race. Not because they are more violent or even tend to commit more crime. But because they lack the knowledge of other races to “game the system”.

    Studies have shown, that even the DA and prosecutors, use terms that influence strict sentencing of minority men. While the fair-er races get probation or community service.

    This is a way to get cheap labor, for the prison, “Sweat shops”, that pay pennies a day, to those who want to or have to work.

    It’s sad, that we choose to make it seem so simple. As if, it was our own fault. It’s even sadder, to bolster the false belief, that it’s just that, “lazy black man syndrome” too.

    Studies show, that grade school boys need activities, that stimulate their minds. They don’t sit still for hours, like girls and don’t learn the same way, in the exact same environment.

    Schools who have embraced, separate teaching classes, base on sex. Show improvement, in the ability to focus and even more so, when activity breaks, for young boys are provided.

    This fallacy, that our women have surpassed us, just as, if there were no negative influences involved, is ludicrous.

    Studies have also shown, that enrollment and graduation rates for all the male races are out numbered by women. Who left that fact out of the conversation (see title IX debate in college sports)?

    No books, no great teachers, no positive or proactive parenting (possibly working 3 jobs), no positive male role models or mentors. All play a role. Why not enroll those same boys, in Big Brothers from age 6-18. Why don’t the mothers, see this as a problem solving solution?

    Why do the girls achieve in the same setting. I think fewer do, and are more readily taken out of that environment, than are the boys. Higher grades, more programs to rescue so called gifted children and more interest from the mothers. Create an imbalance in those achievement statistic’s. Why not watch the movie, “Waiting for Superman”?

    Remember, woman are raising these under achieving boys. There’s no coincidence, that the same hatred of their fathers, is somehow, in a twisted sense of logic or subliminally, used on the child.

    I’ve seen verbally abused boys, who did little more than ask a question, in the softest of all voices. Assailed with threats and sometimes profanity, By an over burdened and over bearing mom. While the daughter sits or stands and smiles gleefully at the poor, emasculated male.

    Tough, thug, hard, sports first, uncaring and get what you want. Is what most learn from their mothers. The alienation from the father by the mother, exacerbates the situation even further.

    A father-less boy without a male support group, is just as doomed, as a father-less gurl, without close attention paid to her by the mother. A simple example of this, is, the under age birth rate in the African american community.

    Must we go to the animal kingdom, for our examples of young male elephants, who lack a male role model. Acting out of character?

    Let’s stop blaming and realize, that at this point in history, far into the future. Will have scholars wondering why, couldn’t anyone figure out this game, that was foisted upon black men and women. By Madison avenue, Media Moguls and politicians?

    It’s so simple and so clear, that here in america. That there are a limited number of well paying jobs. We all can’t be Millionaires, Six figure salary earners or rich beyond our wildest dreams.

    We need an underclass, willing to do menial labor for miniscule pay. Our women need to recycle the money given to them. By the very same people who hire them, who know they will, give it back into the hands and the communities, of their financial providers.

    Thus, the ghetto is preserved. We are, and may always be, the only two races not to leave a place, where many have risen out of. You know the stories and the races. The door has been closed and the last two races are meant to stay there.

    Without money flowing, into the community. It will stay, poor, un and under educated, with violent, crime ridden, diseased, over populated and unable to change. Just the way the system likes it.

    While those few who escape, moved to the burbs, boast and crow about their own achievements and turn a blind eye toward, the plight of their own people.

    The game is rigged, the perfect storm is swirling all around us. And yet no one, who isn’t caught up in it. Cares to see the light, let alone, stand up and do something.

    So stop complaining, stop comparing, stop compromising and most of all, stop blaming people, whom you choose not, care not and want not, to help.

    Btw – most black women who get married, do so for the novelty and thus end up divorced.

    If it was really love, I’d see it, leading up to marriage. What I do see is, No hand holding in public, no passionate displays of love or affection, in public, to a point, no mutual respect in public.

    I’d dare say, most of the time, your not even sure, if you saw them together, that they were, together?

    So stop, the theme, destination and “my day” weddings. Find a man you worship and he worships you. Then get married and turn off the media driven, “trash tv” and create an unbreakable bond.

    That’s the secret of Marital success. Not finding a “matching wallet salary”, with all the economic accoutrements. That’s your fault for seeking “money over love” and a splendid recipe for failure.

    Bon Appetit!

    By the way,
    to the author,

    I hope you enjoyed the emasculation marathon and all the pats on the back, plus benefits for the media moguls and women. Who now believe even more firmly, in this mythical madness.

    We all have a role to play in this.
    And I say, On to you,
    Well played, my friend,
    Well played!



  13. As an African American female, I must say that I really enjoyed the book. It’s packed with sad realities. No one can have power unless it is given to them. I have found that the African American men who select white women are men that I would not want and vice-versa; so it is not a loss. I contend they do not have the power. What is really sad is when African American men lack their own confidence. My ex-husband once said that he didn’t know why I married him and not a white man who could give me more. His defeated mentality led to the demise of our marriage. Instead of being more to give me more, if that’s what he thought, then he should have done things to better himself, even though he was a college graduate. Well, if I wanted more, then I would not have married him. I saw his potential, unfortunately he did not see his own and saw the white man as a better match for me, in terms of success, Now, that’s sad! Well, now that I am single and after reading this book; perhaps I will be more open. The world may not be fair and we (African Americans) may have to work harder than others, do it, wallow and be miserable or live and let live, I say. Thanks for writing a book that makes us all think, even if we agree to disagree on points.

  14. I grew up a privileged white male right next to Standford University. I read about slavery. I read Black Like Me. I attended Ravenswood High School as part of a voluntary integration plan to end the Jim Crow era. My mom was a child advocate lawyer for the City of San Francisco where she represented the children caught in the war on drugs. Today I am a slum lord and spend dozens of hours a month in the ghettos. I just read “The New Jim Crow: The Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander. If we want black men to participate in our society, we must end the war on drugs. Black men are being arrested so dispoportionately to whites, cannot afford council, and take plea agreements from vicious prosecutors and never see a judge. Our next president must stop the war on drugs. Yes it may cause an uprising of poor whites, but the mass incarceration must stop.

  15. Professor Banks, I heard about your book on Fox News web and was intrigued. As a white evangelical pastor who was doing a sermon series on marriage when I read your book, I was fascinated by your hypothesis: the reason for low marriage rates and high out-of-wedlock births among African Americans is there are more single women compared to men, therefore men feel they can have multiple girlfriends, and the women feel they must tolerate it if they want to have any chance at some kind of relationship. You did cite the role of values, but promoted the math as the overarching reason for the aforementioned disparity. I am surprised that you think a man’s aim for multiple children by multiple girlfriends is not “deficient values.” I have ministered to women in just that situation, both white and black, and it breaks my heart to think that they see themselves only as receptacles for a man’s semen and that seemingly the man’s only job is to give his semen to as many women as he can. That is deficient values at the core and not a math problem.
    On the other hand, your call for African American women to out-marry is interesting and may indeed be a part of the answer to the shrinking pool of African American men.

  16. Professor Banks. Thank You…for a well written book. Our 28 year old son suggested that we read it. I just completed the book and my wife plans on reading it soon. (Fellow Ohioan’s) 🙂

  17. I just finished the book and I enjoyed it. I liked it because it wasn’t just opinions it had stats. I am a dark skinned 50 year old single sister never been married with no children. I am only attracted to black men. Don’t get me wrong I have seen some attractive men of other nationalities but I have no interest in them. I live in Atlanta where black men in my age group are having the time of their lives. Most of them have been married before and aren’t looking to settle down no time soon. They have multiple female friends with benefits because they can get away with us. Unfortunately, sisters are putting up with a lot of crap to have some form of companionship. It is a sad situation……..I use to be against the interracial thing, however I dont care anymore. I see our athletes, musicians, businessmen, actors etc flocking to women of other nationalities because they feel they have arrived and a sisters holds no value . If our own brothers don’t hold us in high esteem how can we expect others too. I say to my beautiful black sisters be with whomever makes you happy and complement you…….I pray one day our brothers will wake up and realize what they have been missing. I truly believe no other woman can love a black man like a black woman….

  18. Dear Prof. Banks,

    Yesterday’s cover article in the NY Times, Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’, reminded me that I owe feedback on “Is Marriage for White People?”
    The NY Times story aligns with your response to Kate Bolick’s piece in The Atlantic. I’m sure you have taken a fair amount of abuse, e.g. daring to use the term “marriage market” (which is not just a metaphor), but even more flak can be expected if we acknowledge certain other key factors that people now are politely ignoring. But this is an important subject, as I know from personal experience (e.g. all six of my black female cousins are currently single, despite five having degrees and three advanced degrees).

    I’m 47, half white, half black, grew up in a Los Angeles suburb, went to college in the area and got an MSEE, learning Russian all the while. The language ability led to a 20-year expat career, including 11 years in Russia and 6 in Germany. In Russia I had a game: since Russians wear wedding rings on their right hands, and the Moscow and St. Petersburg metros are the deepest in the world, I had plenty of time on the escalator to count the wedding rings as people held the hand rail passing in the opposite direction. There were very, very few. The lack of rings has several possible explanations and implications, as you will quickly recognize. The Russian and black American marriage markets have a lot in common. I would divide the factors affecting marriage collapse into three categories: Global, Common to Russia and black America, and Unique.

    The global explanation that one hears parroted everywhere, e.g. this recent cover story in The Economist, attributes marriage decline to female empowerment: more birth control options, more education, more financial independence, increased ability for later childbirth. Female empowerment is also a result of the global, historical decline in violence (documented by Steven Pinker in “The Better Angels of Our Nature), and of governments taking over the security-and-support role, making a male provider less necessary. However, I propose that male choice is at least as big a factor in marriage decline as female choice. The big missing variable here is urbanization, a global phenomenon with many ramifications. Higher populations mean more possible marriage candidates for consideration, meaning longer decision times even for the monogamously inclined, but also more playtime for the polygamous. Urbanization may also increase anonymity; combined with the absence of a woman’s relatives (especially male relatives, especially fathers), this may increase irresponsible young male behavior. In both Russia and black America urbanization plays a key role: Moscow is Europe’s #1 most populous city, and St. Petersburg #3; both have exploded since the Soviet collapse.

    Russia and black America share an unusual key factor: a dearth of marriageable males due to high rates of crime and incarceration (under Clinton the US overtook Russia to become the world’s #1 incarcerator), high death rates, and high rates of substance abuse. In your book you recognized the effects of a male-female imbalance on negotiations in the marriage market. Russians have a joke: “Women want everything from one, men want one thing from everyone.” In female education and income, Russian and black American patterns seem similar to me. Quite decent women who should be valued in the marriage market can’t manage to find a single stable reliable partner. In the case of Russians, match-making services have sprung up to bring Russian women and American men together. So why would white American men reach across the ocean to gamble on women who speak another language, but ignore the black bargains in their own backyard?

    Russia and black America differ in at least three key respects: Russian women outmarry easily, Russian women are not obese (on the contrary, they take extraordinary care of their #1 asset), and Russian women are basically white Europeans. I suggest that the first variable is a function of the latter two. Obesity is an epidemic in the US, and blacks suffer from it, like so many other trending afflictions, more than the general population. Standards of beauty have remained relatively static (and may even have risen, given the media’s ability to show us examples of beauty from far outside our immediate community), but modern men have a wide array of pornography options, discreetly delivered via Internet. Modern men may have unrealistically high expectations and will be less inclined to compromise when selecting a long-term mate. I would be curious to see marriage studies acknowledging the awkward variable of controllable attractiveness, in particular obesity.

    The really awkward variable is uncontrollable attractiveness: we are not blank slates, but born with preferences for certain physical traits in mates. When we scan a crowd, some faces leap out as attractive–why? Some preferences are universal (e.g. facial symmetry, women prefer taller men, men prefer younger women with 0.7 waist-to-hip ratios), some are societal (e.g. we prefer the average of faces in our surrounding community), and some are personal. It is theorized that some of our personal mate preferences result from a desire to ensure that children resemble their father, to raise paternal confidence and thus paternal investment:
    According to this theory (already demonstrated in some animals and in humans with eye color) we find potential mates attractive when they have combinations of dominant and recessive traits such that offspring would resemble the father. It seems to me that blacks have more dominant traits, like dark skin, dark eyes, dark hair, and curly hair:
    All across Asia and Africa, there is a strong preference for women with skin lighter than the average. Skin-lightening creams are common, and on television one sees actors so light that they scarcely resemble the local population (though the western habit of breast enhancement results in creatures no less absurdly unnatural). For those who would blame this on a legacy European domination, it is the same in Thailand, which has never been colonized or conquered.

    If true, these observations have serious implications for possible solutions:

    1. If black women on average are indeed objectively less attractive, simply telling them to be open to marriage outside the race is not going to work. When negotiating any partnership, people prefer partners who will prefer (more highly value) them. White men value black women less, so black women naturally avoid them. I strongly doubt that it is a matter of loyalty to the race, a virtue strangely absent in black men. Black women must control what they can: they must outcompete white women educationally, professionally, and physically. Easy to say, but anything else is fantasy. Besides that, they must be open to alternative arrangements, basically formalized variations on polygamy or being choice mothers.

    2. We must change the root causes that are under our control, i.e. the three shackles of black America: the War on Drugs, welfare, and poor government schools. The first creates a black market whose profits lead black men astray, the second shifts black women’s risk-reward calculations in the wrong direction, and the third weakens black children, leaving them unprepared for modern life and susceptible to the first two shackles. BTW, in your book you said that the War on Drugs started in the 1980s, but it was Nixon who formally launched it in 1971.

    In the mating game, men attract based on their pocket books, women based on their figures. The former are getting relatively thinner, and the latter are getting thicker–it’s no wonder that marriage is in decline.


    P.S. A couple of specific comments I noted in the book:

    p. 46, “Deindustrialization”–There has been no deindustrialization–there has been automation and outsourcing of service jobs to non-manufacturing companies. Manufacturing jobs may be down, but US manufacturing output is up.

    p. 49, “Nearly 4 in 10 African Americans thought they should no longer be viewed as members of a single race.”–Well good, because black Americans are not members of a single race. Africans are far more genetically diverse than any other “race” on the planet, differing as much from each other as whites or Asians from them. Obama is not particularly related to us descendants of West African slaves, and Kwanzaa is a contrivance.

  19. I read your book in a day, it was a real page turner. As a college educated and well travelled black American woman I am unfortunately intune with many of the things written in this book. One area that I do not remember being addressed is the issue of men who have sex with other men. I am not talking about men who readily identify as gay (which accounts for a lot of professional in-demand black men) but rather men who engage in sexual activity with other men and then engage in sexually intimate relationships with women. I feel that this issue exasturbates the problems of disease within our community, and its one that we seldom talk about in the ways that we need to. Unfortunately, in my dating experience with black men I find that far too many men who engage in that behavior (men sleeping with men) have crossed my path with interest in being with me. I think its a far more serious issue than we have previously imagined. I don’t know why men feel that its okay to be bisexual without informing their partners of the risk involved (usually by denying their attraction to men altogether). There is nothing at all wrong with being bisexual or gay, in fact by being honest with oneself about that it can be very liberating because you no longer have to hide and then you can deal with partners who genuinely want to deal with you exactly for who you are.
    Through much of my adult life I have dated men of all races and I have found it to be a very positive experience. I am and always will be attracted to black men but since my late teens I became aware that black men had no desire to limit themselves so I decided not to limit myself. And as a woman who has worked and travelled internationally and has friends from all over the world the (black) men that I encounter usually have a preference for non-black women. However, men of all races find us to be beautiful and wonderful. I can’t agree with anyone who tells me I should date down or marry down if I want to be happy.
    I think its time that mothers and fathers (where ever they may be) encourage young boys to man up. The stigma of singlemotherhood and single womanhood is drifting away as more and more women embrace the fact that they can give themselves the lives that they want complete with biological children of their own. Men may think that they have the advantage while they are young and presumably virile, but for them the challenge lies in old age finding a mate who will care for them when they get to a place where caring for themselves is more than they can handle. As women we work hard in our youth to ensure that our golden years are comfortable and we take that on as a human responsibility not a ‘black womans’ responsibility and black men just like anyy other man need to accept this responsibility for themselves as well. So in closing I say that its time for black men to MAN UP and stop going through life as an overgrown boy obsessed with the power of his penis and recognize that there is more to life than sex and that you don’t have to be independently wealthy to marry nor should you wait until you are almost fifty to try and make a respectable man out of yourself. I say to women like myself, get out there and enjoy yourself. Find love in whatever shade it comes from, because I would rather have a non-black man who adores me than a black man who attempts to lower my worth.

  20. I thought the book was well written. The only thing I took issue with was about the single black women raising children. I believe it was stated (and I’m paraphrasing) that women would rather not marry the man because they don’t believe he will be a good father. Well women know the men they are with and there is too much birth control out there for women to get caught up having a baby with a man they think will not be a good father. Don’t take that chance until marriage is done. I see it so often in the courts. Women only care about getting the child support from the man and not the character of this person they created a life with. Not that they want him in their child’s life, but only that he be financially ready and I think that is pathetic. I hear that rage all the time “I don’t need him to take care of my baby, I can raise the baby on my own, just have the child support.” Well apparently you’re not raising the child alone. My own cousin said something ignorant like that to me. Here she has 3 children and not married. About a month before I got married we were talking and and she told me she couldn’t do that, that she wasn’t ready for that. Oh, but she’s ready to keep popping out babies! How ridiculous.

  21. This book was bound to be controversial and it comes as no surprise to me that there are vehement feelings on opposite ends of the argument. One thing I think this book sheds light on is a reality that many African-American women (some African) women have refused to accept for decades: within this race there are ridiculous double standards. Interracial marriage is more common among black men than black women. Interracial dating is more commonly practiced by black men. No matter how hard some women fight to “preserve” this race, statistically, it’s a losing battle,because women loyal to the race aren’t getting married, and an increasing number of them are not having children. Many of the same black men that engaged in interracial relationships, object to black women doing the same thing. They coined the term “sell-out” for such women. It’s as though the unequal “rights” within our race are acceptable because they benefit the men. Black men left a long time ago. The ones that remain take advantage of the desperation in the most loyal women. The question that I believe women of all races need to start asking themselves is whether they are humans before their race (whether they are souls within a body). If the answer is yes, they should seek a soul-mate, and he may come in any shade. There are good men in every race – good people. I am the daughter of black woman and a white man, and I do not consider myself inferior to anyone because of it. What my parents instilled in me was the importance of a strong sense of identity. One influenced by my race, culture and upbringing, but not restricted by them. I know I want monogamy, equal values and respect from the man I date and I am not willing to settle for less than that to conform to a societal norm.

  22. Responding only to the title of the book, no.

    Until the mid 60’s black families were as solid as white.

    Think about that.

    Hundreds of years of slavery, and then another hundred of white terrorism and prejudice couldn’t break the black family.

    But then blacks got the attention of Democrats. They were offered the Liberal solutions for their problems.

    Oh well.

    • Don’t forget Drug Prohibition. If whites were adversely affected by it as much as blacks (as whites were under Alcohol Prohibition) something would be done. Ironically, it is again Chicago most often in the news. Watch and compare the TV series Boardwalk Empire and The Wire…..

  23. Damn!! I read the book straight through and couldn’t sleep for thinking about all the personal case studies and stats that touched me. Especially thinking about the reality that there is a bifurcation of the black community with one rich and one poor and predominantly male. I’m saddened to think that all these brothers are wasted potential that sit still watching life go by and then blame women who made some things happen for themselves. I thought about all the brothers who exhibit low self-esteem and use their sexuality and swagger to compensate for all the areas they should be developed as mature human beings. I thought about my 29 year old college friend who got herpes with her first partner. He later confessed that he had probably been with around 100 women. My heart breaks for my own situation living in NYC with so many men that are physically there but are like ghosts and emotionally unhealthy. It was a sobering read and while I’m not really about dating out personally, I know it will be a new trend for sisters trying to find some happiness, partnership and joy in this life.

  24. I picked up this book because the title cought my attention. Here’s my thought – this is a wake up call to the black community – especially black men. Facts in this book support the well known ieada that black men are an ‘endangered species’. The way arguments were framed and the analysis of data presented made it a good read. The one thing I would like black women to consider doing is going natural and having an active fitness lifestyle. Of course this is no panacea but I believe it will make more black women attractive. Back to black men – please understand manhood, chilvary, honor for women. Black men need black women. Thank you Prof Banks for taking the time to highlight these emotionally sensitive topics.

  25. When I first picked up this book,I did not know what to expect because of the title.Once I began reading just could not stop.Prof Banks your book was a hot topic at work.Thank you for showing a different perspective of African Amercican marriages.

  26. I just finished the book yesterday. I found it both a gread read & an important one. Many times I thought I was reading about my own life. It is time that we as a people start facing some hard facts & addressing them; only then will we be collectively the people that we have always proven to be historically: extraordinary & entirely unique. As for me romantically, while at some level I resist an interracial relationship because I had a wonderful father, have great brothers, etc., I have been pursued by non-black men & I see the difference both on a qualitative & substantive level. If a non-white man who proves to be genuine, sincere, single, God-believing,& stable is willing to forge a meaningful life with me, then I will persue it, because I have only one go-around here. Much love to all on this forum.


  28. The story of Tonya Hunter-Lyons reminded me of the tragic death of one of my wife’s co-workers in 2012. Tia Jordan was a 40 year old registered nurse who was shot and killed by her 21 year old husband in an apparent murder-suicide in (first homicide of 2012 in Richmond County). Her husband was uneducated, had two children from previous relationships and, most importantly, had a history of domestic violence and drug use. After listening to my wife lament the death of her co-worker, I often wondered what would drive such a professional women to “marry down” with a common thug. This book has definitely provided strong evidence for possible reasons and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Who knows. it may save black women some heartache…or may even their lives!

  29. I’m a white guy from Vancouver BC Canada and extremely conservative in my views. (oppose Abortion, for marriage and family, law and order etc.) I’m one of the very first people I ever knew raised by a single woman on the mean streets of East Vancouver. In those days there simply were almost no single parent families. The point is this. My mother lost control over me and my brothers around the age of 11. Just ponder a moment about the ability of an 11 year old to make mature decisions. And whose the coolest kid in a peer group of 11 year olds? The who can cuss and swear and has no curfew that’s who.He’s often the natural leader because his behaviour is admirable to other 11 year olds. Happily for me in the early 60’s my friends all had Fathers who’d paddle them good (I know, I know,spankings a bad thing these days)if they cussed and didn’t get home on time. But what happens when there’s two of me? or three of me? As more boys are raised without Fathers you set in motion a downward spiral of family destruction. Had I had a friend or two who could have hung out with me after hours the peer pressure we’d of exerted on our other friends would have been immense. What we see in America (and Canada) does not (in my opinion)have one thing to do with race, It has everything to do with a permissive society decoupling the idea that sexual relations make babies, not just orgasm’s. So why should anybody be surprised that people having sex for fun would repudiate unintended consequences. Single mothers = uncontrolled 11 year old boys. 1 boy from a single parent family in 10 families in a peer group (not so bad) but 3 out of 4????

  30. I read your book. However,I have a comment about the author’s suggestion that Black women should consider dating non-Black men.
    Sir, you’re not telling us anything we have not already considered.
    Black women, in the USA, who are open to dating non-Black men are not likely to have much success with interracial dating that leads to anything meaningful-aka marriage.
    Even if a Black woman is open to dating a Caucasian, Asian or Latino man, the chances of it is not likely to be reciprocated. And why would it be? Those men have many options. Attempting to date a Black woman is like taking the opposite of a short cut.
    It is a rare sight but when I do see it, I have a lot of respect for the man who is non-Black and has married a Black woman. It means despite all the doubters and naysayers, and most likely inundated by friends, family or colleagues with negative comments about his love preference, he has chosen with his heart.
    Black women of America, if you want to date with the hopes of marrying a non-Black man, try Europe. For Black women, it is such a refreshing dating world over there.

  31. I think there is one thing you did not mention in the book. Some women are addicted to suffering. They need to break that spiral but its SO hard. They go for the bad boy though they know he will cheat, lie, leave them alone again and again.

  32. I finished this book about a week ago and have since been stewing on it. Constantly. I am a highly educated married white woman born of moderately ignorant, poor parents… and I see hope in this book for people learning to relate to each other. I understand that I will never understand what it feels like to be black, but honestly the fixation on race as a qualifying factor in love or friendship breaks my heart. The idea that if you love your parent, then you will bring home a mate of the same race absolutely kills me. I contend that if that parent is truly worthy of such love and loyalty, then their first message to you as a parent who wants the best for you is for you to find someone whom you can respect and who will joyously show you respect in return. The idea that men take many lovers simply because they can and are still sought after is ludicrous to me… not to mention that it is these very men that the black women are trying to uplift and “save”! What in the world? Respect yourself and give your loyalty to someone who deserves it, not someone who brings you down and treats you like you are the unworthy one. A man that respected himself would not be spreading himself all around town, exposing himself to heaven knows what. If he has no desire to respect himself, what would make a lady think she could uplift him enough to make a suitable FRIEND out of him, let alone a PARTNER? We have all heard the phrase “You can’t make a hoe a housewife.” Let’s call it like it is with these men, ladies.
    More importantly, I am frustrated that we continue to label each other and perpetuate our differences. “A brother would understand”… Let me let you in on something I know about men. None of them understand all that much about women but most sure do LOVE them some women. I’ve dated men who only had male siblings and secretive mothers and therefore didn’t know anything about females in general and normally had no desire to learn, which was far worse in my opinion than a man that wants to know how you do your hair. How about we work toward a world where we all do understand where people are coming from. Share your culture with your sons, brothers, white girlfriends, anyone who will listen. Because in reading this, I saw that people have far more in common than they might think and the rest can really be resolved with open communication. Maybe I’m naive and ignorant, but consider this: the book describes a feeling that the black race is fracturing and should perhaps be considered as two races. I contend that it was only the minority label that allowed your race to feel homogeneous for so long, for this feeling is not new to me. When I see another white person, I have no inclination that I should have much of anything in common with that person or that that person will share my perspectives just because of the color of their skin. Dignity, honor, and compassion can be found in a person of any race. Unfortunately so can hate, selfishness, and ignorance. I grew up in what I would call an integrated community… that is, during my school years there were people of all races in every clique. So for me, the thought of a person being able to change the class status of their partner simply because of their race is unfathomable to me. And anyone who seeks such a thing is shallow, ignorant, and likely to be with someone who is equally so. Do not envy or hate people such as this. They get exactly what they deserve.
    I, for one, believe in the golden rule, family values, and karma… a combination of values that I consider to be “liberally conservative.”
    In closing, I would like to share an experience involving my daughter that I struggle with as a parent. I was in line at the store with L, age 5, when she pointed at the lady in front of me and stage-whispered, “Mom. Is she African-American?” This surprised me because until now, her descriptions of people had involved the terms “dark brown”, “light brown”, or “tan”. Truthfully, I LIKED IT THAT WAY because when she met a new friend, she would use these terms to describe that person the same way that she might say “blonde” or “green eyes” or “curly hair”. Anyhow, I said to her “Yes, honey, indeed she is.” And she comes back with “Ohhh, so she’s Indian?” Palm to the forehead. “No baby, you’re thinking of Native Americans. Do you know what you are considered?” “Ummm… white?” Well, at least she still had the “What does it matter?” tone of voice when thinking about herself. Now it is my job to help her apply that to others as well… much in the same way that you have to teach your children that despite what you learn in fairy tales, all beauty does not correlate to goodness. We revisited this topic later, with a discussion about what she had learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. at school. She informed me that she learned that he was African-American and “a good man” but evidently had not learned a single thing about what MADE him a good man. This angered me to a point that I cannot even describe. His message that people be judged by the “content of their character” had been defiled by those more interested in… what WAS their point, exactly? That he was black? He was also a man of God, a humanitarian, and an angel of hope who devoted his LIFE to his cause. Why are messages like this overshadowed by a desire to label each other???

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