'Is Marriage For White People?' Author Ralph Richard Banks Explains 'Marrying Down'
1 year ago
Stanford professor says Black women have more options than they believe
In a controversial new book, Is Marriage for White People?: How the African-American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone, Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks offers a solution to African American women who cannot find a suitable husband: marry a non-Black man.
Banks points out that a lot of middle-class educated professional women remain single, not because they’ve invested too much time in their careers, but because they are reluctant to date outside their race.
In an interview with the Loop 21, here’s what Banks had to say on the issues of interracial relationships, marrying down, and the overall decline in African American marriages.
Loop 21: You raise a lot of controversial issues pertaining to Black relationships, one being the issue of “marrying down.” Was this issue something you were aware of before writing this book?
I started with a lot of academic research: studies, data and statistics. Then after I started interviewing people, and talking to them about their lives, the interviews completely changed the book and transformed it. I didn’t realize that issues like “marrying down” or having biracial children were that significant to Black women. A lot of the things I discuss in the book were a discovery for me that I learned by talking to people about their lives.
When you say “marrying down” what exactly do you mean?
It’s basically when professional, college educated women are married to working class men. So, it’s a woman who is more educated or earns more than her husband.
So are you suggesting that accomplished women marry a man based on him being on or above her level financially and or educationally?
A relationship is about love, but it’s also about a whole lot of other stuff too. I think it’s naive to think that a woman who marries a man who can’t hold a job, or maybe even if he’s abusive or on drugs, the fact that they may love each other is not going to keep them together. The story in the book is that we encourage Black women to stop putting too much emphasis on race and not enough emphasis on class. Don’t assume you’ll have more in common with a guy just because he’s Black, then you would with the guy you sat next to in history class during college who may be Asian-American.
You say in the book that Black women expanding their options could better serve the Black race. How so?