Looking for Your Barack?
1/24/2013 12:00:00 PM
When we think of the ideal black family, we often allude to the Cosbys. Two white collar workers with a loving, happy marriage. Their kids weren’t perfect but not troublemakers. Though Florida and James Evans showed us major love, the Cosbys had that life in suburbia that we didn’t see on TV , repping black America. Now fast forward through two decades with even fewer real-life examples of the successful and committed black married couple on television, we wondered what happened to our Cosby dream.
Then came Barack and Michelle. Even better? They are a real life couple!
A new study conducted by The Washington Examiner, has hailed Barack and Michelle Obama are the all-new Cliff and Clair Huxtable, the ideal of romantic love and marriage for a new generation of black Americans. I love the fact they come from such a place of normalcy and not privilege. Yet despite their struggles, they became educated, with stable careers, engaged in social activism and married one another. Talk about being equally yoked. “The Obamas picked up where the Huxtables left off, except this is no act,” according to the study in the scholarly journal “Ethnicities” and conducted by experts from Louisiana State University and Norfolk State University.
But it’s interesting to look at the sociteal issue of marriage when the the First (Black) Family came on the scene. According to census data, in 2007, a year before Obama’s election, 45% of the nearly 8.5 million black identified households were married couples. In comparison, in 1980, four years before the debut of The Cosby Show, marriage rates were around 55%. So marriages were at a higher level but I question seeing these two, could that encourage a marriage spike? You hear the whole “black single woman forever” myths. Then you have the issue of do brothers even want to marry – especially sisters? While we may see evidence of this in some cases, I dare to think this is not the solid truth. Yet still, while I hear more sisters wanting to be a Michelle, I hear even more asking “where is my Barack?”
According to recent reports, believe it or not, the educated Obama or Cliff Huxtable does exist, but he just doesn’t want to marry right away. A study published in 2011 suggested that black men (and women), educated or not, tended to wait until a later age to wed. To me, it seems this could be more a stability issue versus race or gender. It’s smarter to wait until you’re ready and stable in your own life before sharing it with another. Real talk? Barack and Michelle married at 31 and 28-years-old. Not early and not late but years after education they connected in marital bliss.
But the pressure is always on the woman to find her a man.
The fact is, as a single woman you have many options. For starters, you can focus on other things that prepare you to be a better mate: finances, career, education, time for volunteerism (a great way to meet a mate!) and take those fantasy trips that are harder to do when a family comes into the picture. And with maturity comes better choices. Who you are at 22 should not be the same person at 37. Being single longer may help you find the right life-long mate versus the “right-now” mate. Still single and over 30? So what? Research has shown black women do marry later – 75% will marry by age 35.
But if you’re still like, “Ok. Where’s my Barack instead of Boobie?” Well according to two doctorates from Howard and Morehouse University, six percent of married black men who are high school dropouts have a non-black wife and 92% have black wives. Among black men with college degrees, 10% have a non-black wife and 85% have black wives. So chances are, your Barack is out there. But keep your racial options open. Love can come in many colors.
But some think black men drag their feet at wifing someone. And they may but not without cause. From the blog blackloveandmarriage.com and Madame Noire, peep” 7 Reasons Why It Takes Some Black Men Forever To “Put A Ring On It” by WisdomIsMisery:
Lack of appropriate role models.
This is not meant to disrespect single mothers. Honestly, having a bad father in the home is no better than having an absent father. No, this is about a lack of role models for young black men, regardless of their paternal relation or non-relation to the young man in particular. A number of black men don’t have enough appropriate role models to look up to, speak to, and/or imitate. They must figure out how to be men on their own, because they were never shown in practice what being a man entails when they were young and impressionable.
Result: Since a number of black men never observed the roles and responsibilities a man is supposed to play in a woman’s life as a husband/father – other than what they’ve seen on TV, movies, or heard in music – they marry later. Many black men have to figure out their place in a woman’s life through trial and error. Naturally, this ‘on the job training’ takes longer, and we are assuming they ever figure it out.
“The economy, stupid.” – James Carville
I’m not going to deliver a tirade about ‘The Man’ holding the black man down. I’m simply going to state a few universal facts. Fact: Unemployed people tend not to get married. Fact: In May 2012, the national unemployment rate in the United States was 8.2 percent. For African American men it was 13.6 percent. For context, it was 13.6 percent in 2007, too.
Result: It’s hard to get married when you’re statistically and historically underemployed.
More black women are going to college than black men.
This one is twofold. First, there was a time in America where you could still make a decent income even without a college education. Presently, 60 percent of new jobs require a college degree – many employers require a degree for entry-level work simply because they can. In 2011, women of all races obtained college degrees faster than men. For African American women, this rate was almost 2 to 1. Secondly, a number of studies have shown college graduates, both men and women, prefer marrying college-educated partners.
Result: Unfortunately, in this case, perception is reality. Women have fewer college-educated men to “choose” from and men have fewer women willing to “settle” for them if they don’t attend college.
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