by Nsenga Burton
NPR is reporting that marriage activists in hundreds of communities around the country will gather to celebrate the 9th Annual Black Marriage Day on Sunday, March 27, 2011. The day aims to strengthen and promote marriage in the black community. There has been a sharp decline in marriage overall in recent years. The Pew Research Center reports that in 2008, 72 percent of black women giving birth were unmarried. That’s more than in any other ethnic group and almost double the amount from 40 years ago.
NPR’s Jennifer Lunden interviewed Richard Reddick, co-author of A New Look at Black Families, about marriage in the African-American community. During the interview Reddick, who is also a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, discusses the economic factors that affect black marriage and “alternate family forms” in the black community. Reddick says, “Alternate family forms for black families have been in existence for quite some time now, so there are a number of functional healthy two-parent sort of units raising children that aren’t married. So it’s not stigmatized to the level it may be in other communities for African Americans.”
In terms of economics, Reddick says that unemployment and education affect black marriages. “So that means that oftentimes you want to get your — you want to wait till your partner has the stability and an income level where you feel like you can go it together and there isn’t this huge differential.” He also talks about the fact that black households are more egalitarian and share responsibilities and decision making, so there is an increased need to be on an equal footing.
While many people are focusing on why black people aren’t getting married, at least to each other, Black Marriage Day celebrates those who are choosing marriage and encouraging those dating to consider marriage. Black marriage is complicated, but it is happening, and celebrating it is a good thing.
Read more and listen to or read the interview at NPR.