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Is Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  249 ratings  ·  56 reviews
A distinguished Stanford law professor examines the steep decline in marriage rates among the African American middle class, and offers a paradoxical-nearly incendiary-solution.
Black women are "three times" as likely as white women to never marry.
That sobering statistic reflects a broader reality: African Americans are the most unmarried people in our nation, and contr
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ebook, 304 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Plume Books (first published February 3rd 2011)
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Khalid Scott
As a professional social worker and amateur writer, I can honestly state that at first, I wasn’t really sure how to begin my review of this very emotionally-driven book. When I first read the title, Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone, I was instantly offended as a married African American male; but I was also intrigued, and that's what motivated me to read this book in a course of two days—it's quite a page-turner!
Let me start off by giving y
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Tamara Harris
I am torn as I review this book. It is both well-researched and well-written and far more nuanced than many other discussions of the black marriage rate. Yet, in the end, the solution to the so-called crisis centers on black women--what black women need to do differently. I am weary of the entirety of black male-female relations resting on the shoulders of black women.

I also find the recommendation that black women have interracial relationships too simplistic. Banks too quickly dismisses black
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Lauren Nicole
This book was a tough pill to swallow, but I agreed with virtually everything Banks presented. It was nice to have carefully researched statistical data to back up what I've experienced in my dating life for the past fifteen years.

There are few books that actually change my life and perspective on it. This is one such book. Before, I never thought "nonblack" men were checking for me, and I'm still not entirely convinced that they are. But I will say that now, particularly after reading this book
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Joshunda Sanders
Ultimately, this book was so much better than I expected it was going to be. I saw that title and read some of the reviews, and I thought the worst was in store. I'll write a little more about it in a few weeks, but essentially, Banks uses some of the statistics we all hear all the time about gender role reversals in the black community and elsewhere to explain why black women have a hard time in the relationship market. I love, too, that he added some of the data from OKCupid related to how rid ...more
Andrew
Interesting read. At the start, I thought the book was a little heavy-handed in its approach to marriage being some sort of sacred cow: society derives this great benefit from people being paired off therefore everyone should aspire to achieve that institution for themselves (and for the good of all society). However, as I waded further and further into it, I realized that the author was merely jumping off where an anecdotal quandary presented itself to him: he knows black women who want to be m ...more
Ruben
I picked this up last week in doing some research about poverty and education, knowing there's a strong correlation between growing up with two parents as opposed to one. This book is easy to read, and I liked how Mr Banks started with plenty of statistics to show the overall decline in marriage in America and how the decline is most severe among African Americans. The crux of the research is that there is a major power imbalance between Black men and Black women, and that women tend to end up s ...more
Barbara
This book is rich in statistics, some might say over rich. At one point it seemed as if the decline in marriage rates of black women was the cause of every problem in the country, including global climate change. Okay that's obviously hyperbole, but I am at a loss to explain how we could have higher rates of out of wedlock births, abortions, infertility, divorce and sexually transmitted diseases along with the decline in the likelyhood of marriage. I plan to re-read portions of the book just to ...more
Nikhil P. Freeman
All my single ladies there is nothing new here you haven't heard before; basically marry up, marry light (or White), and marry out (of your racial, social, or cultural background). I felt mixed emotions for some of the women because after awhile it is apparent that race is not the main cause of their singledom, but their unaddressed mental illnesses and preoccupation with the lies they tell about themselves and men that cause the bulk of the problem. I refuse to believe that educated, attractive ...more
Jessica
Good read. Banks makes some interesting points that are not only true from his personal experiences but is also backed by science. I appreciate that. His take-home message is that Black women should date outside their race instead of settling for a relationship with Black men who are overwhelmed by their options and as a result, engage in multiple relationships. He doesn't merely present a solution, but he also addresses the obstacles that stand in the way of these solutions. With concrete examp ...more
Marissa
No earth-shattering revelations, but definitely thought-provoking. Much of this book is also quite grim -- if I wasn't already "down for the swirl," I'd be trying to cliff myself after reading this book. :/

Nonetheless, an important read for black women especially -- whether you date IR or not, this book will make you rethink some assumptions and reflect on what you are and are not willing to put up with for the sake of a relationship with a black man.

Joyce
I originally picked this up because I was startled by the title. I thought "isn't that a bit racist?". The book is very interesting and easy to read. For a woman of a certain age with marriage age children, it explains a good deal about what has changed in the dating/marriage area since I was a teen. Ostensibly about the issue of marriage and African Americans, it by necessity explores the changes amongst other groups as well.
Tawanda
scary, yet interesting theories.
Constance
Banks takes a pragmatic, social science approach to the controversial issue of the decline in marriage within the Black community. He stays away from voicing his specific relationships and what he ‘knows’ be true about women, which is much appreciated. The book details different dynamics of relationships as the relating (mostly) to Black women, including dating out (interracial dating), dating down (dating a man who’s is less educated with a lower socioeconomic status), man sharing and having ch ...more
Matthew Stallworth
It was an eye opener. As a man of color to see the plight of what my sisters go through when it comes to trying to find a suitable man it makes me think about what I am doing myself. It was depressing to know that the ending solution to get black people to marry and stay married was sisters to marry outside the race because brothers aren't educated enough, or we are just straight up dogs. The fact that these well educated women even stand by our sides and still have faith in us should make you v ...more
Joanna
Delivers info and insight very straightforwardly. Doesn't skirt the issues. The overall idea is that successful, educated black men are in high demand amongst their racial community, and also the most likely to be with multiple women simultaneously--what he calls "man-sharing." Successful black women are more likely to marry "down" because they have fewer options, and even then it often ends with the man saying something like "You think you are too good for me, don't you?"

Interracial marriages
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Alicia
Overall this book is pretty depressing for an African American women to read, whether married or single. All we heard from were single and divorced women. No notes from married women and especially married men or even single men.

I'm also not sure how I feel about the conclusion, that the solution is for African American women to date and marry interracial in hopes of attracting back African American males. It seems like a big fallacy.

I did enjoy the chapters on "mixed marriages".
M.L. Desir
This provocative book asked a lot of questions. It also gives a lot of answers and best of all it opens up a dialogue about racism, relationships, dating, and much more in the USA. It's an easy read (took me a few hours) packed with lots of research and personal stories from people Ralph interviewed. I enjoyed reading these stories of real people the most and find them quite relatable.

Overall, the book fulfills the adage: "A writer only begins a book. A reader finishes it." Ralph often mentions
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Shirley
The book was very interesting - looking at the footnotes, and there are many of them - a lot of research went into to this along with being able to pull some of the "Essence" articles. Just wish we could have read some commentary from the men in these relationships.

It's truly an easy read - I took so long because I would begin and stop, but it can literally be read in two to three days, breaks included.
Martine
The facts don't lie! This book definitely made me take a hard look at my relationships with Black men and unfortunately, I have to agree with many of the author's points. Mixed marriages was the chapter that really hit home for me. I know one thing is for sure, from now on will be looking outside the "box" when it comes to dating.
Sharice
a lot of crazy statistics. one of the bottom lines is that more black women should date outside their race. and I agree. I know I wished I pursued white guys more in college!
Monica
Incredibly insightful - a fascinating look into the black marriage situation, particularly how it effects black women.
Shandra
Interesting statistics and well researched.
Chris
okay, maybe a 3.5, but definitely very readable. Lot’s of great stats about the decline of marriage in general and why it is worse amongst African Americans. Particularly how AA women who get college degrees at twice the rate of AA men look around and find it hard to find AA peers to marry in their 30’s fewer men with degrees, AA men marrying white women at a higher rate than other ethnic groups, etc. Talks about effect of incarceration on marriage, (40% of people in prison are black). Also some ...more
Lydia
Banks has a most interesting premise that he supports through a number of different means: government statistics, sociological and psychological research, his own interviews, and his own interpretation of knowledge. As a result this is a book where a number of his premises and summary statements may be called into question.

Perhaps the most irritating aspect of this book is that Banks does not create a cross-analysis of his work. Can the shortage of black men, academically educated or not, and th
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Elise
First, the author does not answer the title nor address the subtitle. When I picked up this book, I was interested in the topic from a person's point of view, not a white person's point of view. I thought the "Everyone" in the subtitle would address our entire society. Instead, Banks focuses on how the decline of black marriage affects black people. Well, yes, I get that, but that's not what was promised in the title. I am interested in the black culture and I realize when I read books like this ...more
Ebony
I was biased about Is Marriage for White People? before I began reading. The popular culture perception (round this way) was yet another black man telling black women that they should settle for something other than their desires in order to marry. I didn’t like the fact that another man is pimping, I mean profiting from black women’s relationship woes. I didn’t like that the brass ring is marriage (as if all all black women want is to get married insert eye roll and side eye). I didn’t like the ...more
Temple
I'm giving this book 5 stars. Banks definitely did his due diligence. The bibliography alone is 30+ pages. Banks interviewed 100 participants--interviews that usually went for one or more hours. This book is definitely not pop sociology. Banks also has an understanding of the suspicious nature of humans; therefore he devotes the final chapter of the book to explaining in detail his methodology.

As I was reading the book, I thought 'This had to have been a very difficult book to research & wri
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Dionisia
Where to begin? I feel the title is mismatched with the content of the book. The author acknowledges as much in his afterword.

"I cannot overstate the significance of the interviews in the evolution of this project. My conversations with black women transformed my vision for this book, as did their willingness to rethink their own lives. Their sense that their story had not been told was palpable. It was as though, for all their success, their lives remained invisible. I began to think of this bo
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Nick
The book's premise is to investigate not just why the black marriage rate is so low (lower than any other racial group in the US), but also why so many African American women remain single when they say they want to be married. In some ways, the book is really LITE. There are about five words on each of its 189 pages and it's clear that Banks is writing for a popular audience, despite the fact that he is himself an academic (he teaches law at Stanford). There's nothing wrong with that, of course ...more
Desi Bjorn
This book isn't worth half of what it costs. I commend Banks on his research methods and the data he obtained. That information found in this book is the most useful thing in it. However, Banks' makes conclusions and assertions that are obviously emotionally driven by his listening to do many disgruntled Black women, many of whom do not actually appear to have done any introspection into their inability to find a suitable partner. This leaves the reader with a bunch of superficial rhetoric that ...more
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