Wednesday, August 31, 2011
On the Concurring Opinions blog, Professors June Carbone and Naomi Cahn review a new book by Stanford Law's Richard Banks, which is entitled Is Marriage for White People? How African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone.
Carbone and Cahn write:
As in 1965, however, the notable exception to the rosy picture for family stability, at least for the elite, comes from African-Americans. While the white non-marital birth rate for college graduates has stayed at 2%; for African-American college graduates, the numbers are rising and now approach the 25% level that caused such alarm at the time of the Moynihan report. National Marriage Project, fig. S.2, p. 56.
Stanford Law Professor Richard Banks, in a book that has already triggered fireworks, courageously addresses the issue. In Is Marriage for White People? How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone, he points out the enormous disparity between the marriage rates of black men and black women and the fact that the issue is no longer one limited to the black underclass. While marriage has effectively disappeared from the poorest communities (the non-marital birth rates for black high school dropouts is 96%), Banks’ concern is successful African-American women. Their marriage rates have been dropping, and their dissatisfaction with the behavior of black men is the subject of plays, movies and Banks’ book. Banks’ explanation is straightforward: black women have been so disproportionately successful that they outnumber the men. So, too, is his solution. He writes the book to argue that the only realistic choice for African-American women is to marry outside the race and as a prominent African-American male, he is effectively giving them permission.
Read more of the book review here.