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Is Marriage for White People?

How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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 contrary to public perception the racial gap in marriage is not confined to women or the poor. Black men, particularly the most successful and affluent, are less likely to marry than their white counterparts. College educated black women are twice as likely as their white peers never to marry.

Is Marriage for White People? is the first book to illuminate the many facets of the African American marriage decline and its implications for American society. The book explains the social and economic forces that have undermined marriage for African Americans and that shape everyone's lives. It distills the best available research to trace the black marriage decline's far reaching consequences, including the disproportionate likelihood of abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, single parenthood, same sex relationships, polygamous relationships, and celibacy among black women.

This book centers on the experiences not of men or of the poor but of those black women who have surged ahead, even as black men have fallen behind. Theirs is a story that has not been told. Empirical evidence documents its social significance, but its meaning emerges through stories drawn from the lives of women across the nation. Is Marriage for White People? frames the stark predicament that millions of black women now face: marry down or marry out. At the core of the inquiry is a paradox substantiated by evidence and experience alike: If more black women married white men, then more black men and women would marry each other.

This book not only sits at the intersection of two large and well- established markets-race and marriage-it responds to yearnings that are widespread and deep in American society. The African American marriage decline is a secret in plain view about which people want to know more, intertwining as it does two of the most vexing issues in contemporary society. The fact that the most prominent family in our nation is now an African American couple only intensifies the interest, and the market. A book that entertains as it informs, Is Marriage for White People? will be the definitive guide to one of the most monumental social developments of the past half century.

From Publishers Weekly

Jun 27, 2011 – Banks, a Stanford law professor, examines why black Americans maintain the lowest marriage and highest divorce rates in the nation, focusing most sharply on the high likelihood a black woman will remain single, a product of the scarcity of black men in the marriage market, their number depleted by high incarceration rates. This "man shortage" leaves those who are available in high demand and with less impetus to commit to one woman. In the U.S., wives earn a larger percentage of the household income than ever and are more likely to have completed college than their husbands. This trend is most acute among African-Americans , which coupled with how African-American women outperform their male counterparts contributes to the high African-American divorce rate. Banks suggests that black women should stop being so willing to "marry down" and consider "marrying out" marrying nonblack men. Such a choice restores equality to black male and female relationships by depriving black men of the power they enjoy as the result of being scarce commodities. Furthermore, Banks argues provocatively, "for black women, interracial marriage doesn't abandon the race, it serves the race." Peppered with interviews and candid opinions about marriage and relationships, this is a surprisingly intimate scholarly work; the sobering topic is tempered by the author's easy-to-read, captivating style.

Customer Reviews

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Is marriage for white people

Outstanding book. As a white man, it made me examine my own thoughts and better understand the struggles of african american women. I dont read much. But i enjoyed reading this.


This book presents a common theme so familiar to African American women. What I did not find an answer or explanation to is why aren't African American men who are not incarcerated (since most are not) going to college at the rate women are attending college. It would be nice to read a book about the barriers men face which may hinder them from attending college. Overall informative and enlightening book.

Is Marriage for White People?
View in iTunes
  • $10.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Sociology
  • Published: Sep 01, 2011
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings