I have met a lot of women under the age of 35 who say they are not ready to get married or that they are waiting for the right man. Likewise, I have met a lot of women approaching the age of 40 or older who say they are determined to get married before a certain age or that they have given up. Why is this?
There is a sizable corps of black women who are over 30 and still single. And a new study conducted by researchers at Yale University may have answered this question as it relates to African American women. The study found 42 percent of African American women remain unmarried, compared to only 23 percent of white women.
Deborrah Cooper, a relationship columnist for the San Francisco Examiner, says that one reason for this has been attributed to the strong influence that religion has on African American women. She suggests that “an examination of any congregation of the average black church shows that single black females fill the pews” and that they hear “over and over again the message that they should be seeking a God-fearing man.”
There is some data to support this contention. The PEW Center’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey notes that, although 90 percent of black Americans indicate an “absolutely certain belief in God,” men were still significantly more likely than women to claim no religious affiliation.
Still, there are other factors that may also be involved. According to the U.S. Census, as of 2000, there were 1.8 million more African American women than black men. Also, 70 percent of college graduates are married by 40, compared to 60 percent of black high school graduates being married by that age. In prior years, studies conducted by the Yale Center for Research on Inequalities and the Life Course also noted that fewer black women with postgraduate degrees are getting married and having children.
Regardless, fewer black women are getting married. The prevailing question is which factors are more responsible for this. Perhaps, VH1’s new comedy drama “Single Ladies,” starring Lisa Raye and Stacey Dash, will provide a little insight. –torrance stephens, ph.d.