African American relationships more difficult to navigate today

Many couples at odds over money and prestige

Cory Alexander Haywood OW Contributor | 8/2/2018, midnight
Many years ago, it was common for slave owners to “divide” their “property” by separating the..

Nate explained that, although he is gainfully employed and currently happy with the mother of his young daughter, a few of his close friends have struggled to find jobs in the new economy, and it’s hurting their relationships.

“They never hear the end of it,” he continued. “One of my friends is dating a girl who earns nearly six figures, and she graduated from USC. Whenever they fight over an issue, she throws her weight around and brags about her education and the money she makes. She cuts him down in front of other people because she’s technically in the power position. My friend can’t really defend himself because she’s the breadwinner right now. He needs her. In my opinion, that’s a position most black women prefer to be in.” 

Beginning in 1979, women began to outnumber men in U.S. colleges, attaining nearly 60 percent of total enrollment by 2017, federal education figures show. High school girls have been outperforming boys for years, sociologists say. And the social barriers that kept young women’s mothers and grandmothers out of college have fallen away.

Nationwide, about 36 percent of women aged 25 to 34 years have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with about 28 percent of similarly aged men, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a Washington, D.C., think tank.  

A new report suggests that Black women are now the most educated group in the United States.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 2014 and 2016, Black women earned 68 percent of all associate degrees awarded to Black students, as well as 66 percent of bachelor’s degrees, 71 percent of master’s degrees and 65 percent of all doctorates awarded to Black students. 

On the flip side, Black men aren’t fairing as well educationally, and many choose the alternative of a regular job with minimum pay compared to their female counterparts. 

Massive disparities in education and income between Black men and women has effectively produced two polarizing categories of Black women: Those who “date down” by settling for less-accomplished partners, and others who’ve ruled out Black men altogether as potential dating prospects.

“‘Dating down’ is a phrase that I only hear from black women,” said LA native Don Houston, 34. “I know plenty of guys who make an honest living, but they don’t earn the kind of money, or their jobs don’t hold the level of prestige that many Black women require these days. It’s causing many of us to move in a different direction. It’s almost like we have to show our worth to them, but other than a good job and a couple dollars, most of these women bring zero to the table on the domestic front. There’s no balance.” 

According to recent studies, White women with an undergraduate degree are almost as likely to be married today as in 1960. But marriage rates are declining for Black women across the educational spectrum. A Black woman with an undergraduate degree aged between 35 and 45 is 15 percentage points less likely to be married than a white woman without an undergraduate degree.