Many years ago, it was common for slave owners to “divide” their “property” by separating the male slaves from their wives and children.
This process was said to serve a specific and nefarious purpose for the overseer—to ensure that future generations of Negroes would lack the unity and solidarity required for any group of people to achieve lasting prosperity.
During this period in history, a female slave would often be forced to rear her offspring alone, thereby fostering a tradition of independence and self-reliance among “colored” women.
While historians agree that many Black families were kept intact, even more less fortunate slave households were divided for various reasons, but often for monetary gain.
As the singular caregiver to her children, the female slave would intuitively summon feminine and masculine energy while serving her role as both mother and father in the absence of her spouse.
Meanwhile, the stronger male slave was believed to more of an asset to his master as a worker on the field and thusly, many of them were shipped to plantations away from their families and forced to procreate with other female slaves. Black social scientists suggest this gave rise to a behavior of mistrust among Black couples that may persist to this day.
In the 21st Century, some studies have demonstrated that Black marriages are among the most fragile of any racial group, highlighted by a divorce rate that’s well over 60 percent.
Consequently, the existence of stable Black families appears to be fading with exceptional quickness, raising the odds of a much needed rebuild within the African American community.
This phenomenon has gotten progressively worse since the days of old when Black couples operated as team in the midst of staggering oppression and dehumanizing racism.
Making matters worse, lingering issues like unemployment and economic instability have severely eroded the health and longevity of Black relationships.
Sociological studies suggest the lasting damage is causing a rift between both genders that grows wider with every passing day. It’s the byproduct of a generation still haunted by the vestiges and mental conditioning of slavery, combined with the realities of modern society.
In other words, a war between the sexes is brewing.
Relationships have never been easy to maintain. Maintaining a stable marriage in 2018 can be a daunting task. Unlike other racial groups, African Americans often encounter unique societal challenges that impact their mood, self-esteem, and mental health.
These impediments can wreak havoc on the interpersonal bond between two lovers, often causing stress and resentment between the parties involved.
“I’ve dated my fair share of sisters, and none of those experiences ended with my happiness or theirs,” recalls Nate Woolridge, a 29-year-old FED-Ex driver and new father.
“I’m a hard worker,” he said, “so money was never an issue. I have always been able to provide. But that wasn’t enough. It didn’t stop any of [women] from trying to control where I would go, who I would spend time with, and even how I would spend my own money. They wanted me to follow their lead, not the other way around. A real man won’t accept that.”
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.
“We’re not settling for less anymore,” declares Breanna Reed, a recent college graduate. “I live in Chicago, and the Black men I’ve encountered generally lack ambition, respect for women, and they’re either unemployed or still cranking out demo tapes for a rap career they’ll never have. [Black] women have a history of lowering our standards to accommodate unexceptional men. And now we’re beginning to realize that being single or even dating out of the race are better options than settling.”
In the midst of what seems to be perpetual conflict between African American men and women, both groups are spitefully choosing to explore the waters of interracial dating.
Ironically, when either a Black man or woman is spotted with a non-Black companion in public, it elicits whispers of contempt and disapproval on social media.
The wrath of Black Twitter recently fell upon rising actor Michael B. Jordan, who’s been repeatedly photographed in the exclusive company of White women. Viral images of his public liaisons with cosmetically enhanced blondes and brunettes have agitated dozens of Black women in cyberspace over the past few weeks, many of whom feel betrayed by the young entertainer.
“I’ve never dated interracially because I have a love for Black men,” explains Carolyn Emery, 49. “They understand me, we have a lot in common.”
She continued, “The breakdown of the Black family and of Black relationships isn’t entirely the fault of Black men. In my opinion, Black women have lost the understanding of how to be a good wife and a supportive partner. We’ve become a little too independent … it’s crippling our relationships.
“There’s also a generational divide,” she added. “Women today are influenced by television and what happening in the world. My generation values marriage, family, commitment, and we don’t confuse the natural roles of men and women. I don’t need to wear the pants.”