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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Marriages in crisis in black community

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Today experts could easily argue the sanctity of African-American marriages has decreased. What used to be one of the most important cornerstones for building a healthy foundation for Black families continues to dwindle as divorce rates rise.

Nearly 50 years ago 80 percent of Black families were headed by married couples compared to what’s currently 34 percent. More than half of the Black women in the U.S. with children are unmarried, and overall African-Americans have the lowest rates of marriage and marital stability than any other ethnic group.

For some people, the sacred institution of marriage appears to be anything but sacred, and with these grim statistics the state of marriage in the African-American community does not seem to be improving despite the positive contributions studies have found that benefit Black America.

According to a comprehensive literature review, The Consequences of Marriage for African Americans, marriage promotes economic, social and the psychological well being for both Black men and women, though findings suggest husbands and male children benefit far more than women.

Married African-Americans compared to those that are not tend to not only have more income, but also are less likely to live in poverty stricken conditions, are happier and delinquency among their children’s behavioral patterns are less frequent.

These benefits, however, do not appear to act as a deterrent for what experts are calling a state of crisis for the Black community. Linda Malone-Colon, professor of social work at Hampton University says it’s time for a response to this crisis by enacting what she calls a new vision of change.

Malone-Colon says five ways to bring about change and add awareness is to (1) spark a national conversation about change, (2) set a research agenda, (3) evaluate marriage programs, (4) inspire leaders to organize communities and (5) renew social and cultural supports of marriage.

Malone-Colon, though not claiming to have the solution to this crisis, is merely making suggestions to help resolve an issue prevalent in the community, and she is not alone in her views.

Marvin Scott, professor of sociology at Butler University, says socialization of the Black community has greatly affected the sanctity of marriage.

“I think the sense of family and the involvement of church has been lost and TV has glamorized free sex, free love and free anything,” Scott said.

Along with glamorized views of what’s accepted in society, which are vastly different from what used to be the standard, Scott also argues today’s influences on the younger generation are affecting the social standard of the importance of monogamy, the importance of family and the lack of positive leaders as role models.

“We have some dramatic failures in terms of what we call normative behavior and young people are being improperly socialized,” he said. “ I mean the Snoop Doggs and all those other dogs are fine but that’s not what we had in mind.”

With what some experts are seeing as a lack of nurture in society there are programs such as the African-American Healthy Marriage Initiative that have been put in place to help bring awareness to the community about the importance of marriage.

Another tool utilized to help educate society about the countless benefits of marriage is Black Marriage Day, recognized nationally and founded in 2003. This initiative was put in place to help communities recognize the importance of honoring, loving, enduring and building healthy relationships and homes.

Dr. Mary Lewis, minister and relationship therapist in Tennessee says though these initiatives are helpful true stability will come when God is put back into the homes, communities and relationships.

“It starts with the churches. They need to reach out to the homes, and if people focus on God and his purpose, you will find that will help you communicate better with your children and your mate,” Lewis said.

Many would argue that history repeats itself, and if youth continue to grow up in single parent homes, if divorce rates continue to increase, if socialization continues to be the norm and if TV continues to be the standard of what is important, then the sanctity of marriage for the African-American community will continue to be in a state of crisis.

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