(Photo: Penguin Group)
The name of the book on everybody's lips right now is a doozy: Is Marriage for White People? How the African-American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone. Written by Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks, the book makes the case that the lack of Blacks getting married in America is a negative in society, and how things could get better if more people would marry outside their race. Many Americans, as you might imagine, are outraged.
We've told you before that interracial dating might be beneficial to society. African-Americans marrying Asians for instance is a great opportunity to share cultures, education techniques, child-rearing tips and many other things. Banks' general point isn't new or unique, and in the appropriate context, it's not very controversial either. The problem is in his conclusion.
Based on early reviews of Is Marriage for White People?, Banks' thesis appears to be that Black women, who tend to be disproportionately single in the United States, should simply marry interracially rather than wait for Black men who are more often in trouble with the law and undereducated. Obviously, the premise rubbed a lot of people the wrong way—especially the Black women at whom it was directed.
It all sounds a bit condescending, especially when Banks uses phrases like "marry out" to describe what African-American women should do, as if Black people are stuck in this horrible African-American community. It's fair enough to make the point that there are lots of problems with dating and marriage in Black society, and that things would be better if we were to work through those problems. But I'm not sure how wise it is tell African-Americans that the key is to run away from their peers.