Is Marriage for White People? by Ralph Richard Banks
How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone

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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.

About Ralph Richard Banks

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RALPH RICHARD BANKS is the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, where he has taught about marriage, race, discrimination, and inequality since 1998. His writings have appeared in academic journals such as the Stanford Law Review and the Yale Law Journal and in popular publications such as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune. He lives in Palo Alto.
Published September 1, 2011 by Plume. 305 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Parenting & Relationships, Self Help. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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In his debut (Law/Stanford Law School), Banks explores the marriage gap between African-Americans and whites, concluding that fewer African-Americans marry and stay married due to “the changing conception of marriage, and the changing educational and economic positions of men and women.” Add to t...

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The New York Times

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Banks doesn’t offer a jeremiad about the decline of black family values in the way of so many others who do little more than regurgitate Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1965 report, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” which described black family structure as “a tangle of pathology.” Refr...

Sep 16 2011 | Read Full Review of Is Marriage for White People?...

Publishers Weekly

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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 b...

Jun 27 2011 | Read Full Review of Is Marriage for White People?...

Los Angeles Times

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Black women "vastly" outnumber black men in college — and outperform them on campus.

Sep 29 2011 | Read Full Review of Is Marriage for White People?...

San Francisco Chronicle

Yet for a variety of reasons - some of them valid, some of them not - a substantial majority of black women feel that only black men are suitable romantic partners.

Oct 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Is Marriage for White People?...

Chicago Tribune

Although I can sympathize with the issues this group has dealt with, I wanted to hear from the quieter voice: the voice of black men talking about why they're more likely to date interracially, the voice of white men who date black women or more elaboration on white men who think black women aren...

Oct 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Is Marriage for White People?...

and black men's willingness to marry partners of other races, which black women are less likely to do.

Sep 12 2011 | Read Full Review of Is Marriage for White People?...

National Review Online

If black women only marry black men, and if achievement gaps and high incarceration rates leave fewer eligible black men, then a marriage crisis is inevitable.

Aug 08 2011 | Read Full Review of Is Marriage for White People?...

The Root

Presumably added to broaden the scope of the book's appeal, the topic gets a few nods in the background chapters, "The Marriage Decline" and "What Has Become of Marriage?"

Jun 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Is Marriage for White People?...

The Wilson Quarterly

(2007), black filmmaker Tyler Perry has built a fortune on the subject of black female loneliness and the precarious nature of relationships between black women and black men.

Oct 31 2011 | Read Full Review of Is Marriage for White People?...

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