The Black Man-Woman Relationship, To Die a Slow Death-Pt 1
This is part one to a post I anticipate will stir up some level of controversy and push back — but whether you agree or disagree, the information presented is grounded in a compilation of evidence. Here is how the story unfolded:
A group of friends and I sat around talking about our relationship woes — not for the first, second or third time — no this is a conversation we continue to have every couple of months. Three educated Black women, over 40, and single — heterosexual women looking for heterosexual men.
Of course, I began thinking heavy about this conversation and the numerous friends I knew who were looking for relationships with Black men. The story, therefore, led me to begin to examine some statistics. According to a recent census poll, Black men account for 48% of the Black population compared to Black women (52%). We can argue Black men and women are somewhat represented equally in the population, but here is where social forces begin to reshape this distribution. First, let us extract individuals who consider themselves LGBT.
· A report released by the Williams Institute suggests people who self-identify as Black comprise about 16% of the transgender population.
· An estimated 3.7% of the adult population who consider themselves LGBT self-identify as Black.
A number of social forces have driven and continue to drive the success of our relationships. Social forces serve as stressors; these stressors can include underemployment or unemployment, low levels of educational attainment, sexism, racism, and more. Individual factors drive the success of a relationship, but individuals develop behaviors, thinking, beliefs and attitudes within a social context. The United States has a long history of enacting social forces destructive to Black relationships. Consider these social determinants:
More than 400 years ago, Europeans carved up a continent and waged war against the relationships Black people had in order to supply their stolen new societies with bodies for labor. They disrupted the shores of Africa by carrying husbands and wives across the Atlantic — depositing them in the Caribbean, South America, before migrating to North America. I do not need to give a history lesson here, but the commodification of Black bodies through institutional slavery has led to significant generational trauma. From disrupting families in order to profit from the selling of husbands or wives, their labor, this trauma has been detrimental to our relationships.
Jim Crow Era
The end of slavery did not mark the end of racial oppression in the United States. “Black codes” were created to safeguard white space and property. These codes allowed many states to accost Black people for arbitrary offenses and force them into labor back on plantations, low wages, and a lifetime of servitude. Between 1882 and 1968, Blacks accounted for roughly 73% of lynching in the United States. Unfortunately, there are no clear statistics on the estimated number of families impacted but there is little doubt this disrupted relationships.
Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty was definitely a war — but it did more damage to the Black family than improving the disparities that existed in poverty rates. The provision of welfare policies granted economic incentives to women who were single and not married — contributing to an increase in single-parent households.
· In 1950, marriage rates between Black and White women were comparable, 64% compared to 67%. By the late 1990s, the percentage of Black women married was 36% compared to 58% of White women.
From the end of slavery, Jim Crow Era, to the supposed war on drugs, Black people have remained victims to oppressive policies that affect Black men and women. Mass incarceration disrupts the employability of people, their communities, and, most importantly, their families. The incarceration rates for Black people is disproportionately higher than other racial groups. While Black people account for roughly 14% of the population in the United States, they comprise about 38% of the inmate population.
· Black males account for 37% of the state and federal inmate population.
· The imprison rate for Black females is twice that of White females.
Zero Tolerance Policies
Zero tolerance policies aimed to be a response to the Gun Free Schools Act in 1994, however, the policy led to an increase in out-of-school suspensions and hiring of police officers to serve as school resource officers. Unfortunately, school districts disproportionately suspend and arrest Black males for arbitrary school offenses. Young people who experience continuous suspension will more likely display academic gaps and dropout. Young people who have higher accounts of arrest will more likely continue to be funneled into the criminal justice system — translating to lower levels of employment and education attainment. If you make it difficult for our young men to escape the school-to-prison pipeline they will encounter some challenges in trying to find a woman as an adult.
Social forces are shaping our relationships and it becomes extremely difficult to find spaces for resilience and hope. The monotonous heterosexual romantic-companion relationship between a Black man and woman is dying a slow death. Social forces reshape the distribution of men to women by changing the ratio of available heterosexual Black men for heterosexual Black women. This post, while attempting to examine this dilemma from the perspective of social forces, aims to generate some dialogue and I hope to continue this dialogue through an upcoming second post. While I try to remain hopeful and believe in my own ability to find a partner in a Black man, I realize the odds are not in my favor.