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Is Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone [Kindle Edition]

Ralph Richard Banks
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews


"A brave and convincing argument...A triumphant work that demystifies the intersection between compatibility and color."--Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2011

"...the findings presented in this slender book are provocative in the best sense: They explode much of the received wisdom concerning the socioeconomic woes of American blacks....There seems little doubt that Banks' book, whether it solves the problem it takes on, will ignite an acrimonious debate. But if that debate is as long-lasting and far-ranging as the problems Banks has exposed deserve, then his book will have done a great deal of good."--Sam Munson, The Daily, September 4, 2011

"Peppered with interviews and candid opinions about marriage and relationships, this is a surprisingly intimate scholarly work; the sobering topic is tempered by the author's easy-to-read, captivating style."-- Publishers Weekly, June 27, 2011

"This engaging and well-written book addresses a puzzling question: why middle-class black men and women are less likely to marry than middle-class Americans of other races. Banks' illuminating study is a must-read for those concerned about the decline in marriage among African Americans."--William Julius Wilson, Harvard University

"Learned and unflinching, careful but provocative. Banks unabashedly explores the most volatile racial issues. Sure to provoke a fierce debate."--Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School

"Fascinating--and very brave! Banks surveys the brambly landscape of marriage prospects for accomplished African American women, bringing into view rarely seen prides, longings, prejudices and unexpected choices.  Banks' probing examination makes a gripping read."--Nancy F. Cott, author of Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation

“African-American women are half as likely as white women to be married, and twice as likely never to marry. Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks takes on the black middle-class: women who are outpacing their male peers to a degree more pronounced than in any other racial group. He hopes to open the discourse, and maybe a few minds.”--Jessica Bennett, Newsweek, September 1, 2011

From the Author

I hope through this book to extend and elevate the conversation about the decline in marriage among African Americans. While the book takes the reader inside the lives of college-educated black women, it also brings into view the broader economic and cultural shifts that have transformed the terrain of intimate relationships for everyone. 

I highlight one development in particular in which black women not participated: interracial marriage. Even as they have the fewest viable potential partners within their group, black women lead the most segregated intimate lives in the nation. That's the issue at the heart of this book: Why haven't more black women found love across the color line? I explain why black women would benefit themselves and their race if they did so.

Product Details

  • File Size: 441 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0452297532
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (September 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004BDP002
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,028 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
By J. Akil
At first I thought it would be difficult to write an impartial review of Ralph Richard Banks' recently published book "Is Marriage for White People?"; however, now that I've read the book, I don't see how anyone could read it and not come away agreeing with Mr. Banks conclusion: black women need to be more open to dating interracially, both for their own sakes and for the sake the black community as a whole. Notes and a bibliography constitute almost one-third of Mr. Banks book; if you disagree with any of his facts he provides you with ample opportunity to read the same books, studies, and surveys he read to double-check what he has written and to come to your own conclusions.

Here are the facts, all of which are covered in "Is Marriage for White People?": almost half of all black women have had an abortion, over twice the rate for white women; 2 black women graduate from college every year for every black male that graduates; black men out-marry (i.e., marry interracially) at over twice the rate of black women; there are two million more black women in America than black men; black women have exponentially higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases when compared against other groups of women due to the high incidence of `man-sharing' that occurs among black women; and black children that are raised by single parents have life-outcomes similar to children raised in a household with married parents--which speaks to how inadequately many married black households are performing when it comes to the task of conferring the benefits of being born within marriage onto their children.

Mr. Banks does not blame black women or black men for the sad state of affairs amongst blacks.
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79 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil September 12, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A black man needed to write this book. Black women needed a wakeup call. And many black women won't listen unless a black man is saying these words. This book lays out all the facts in a professional and dispassionate manner that can allow black women to make their own INFORMED decisions re: relationships

Black men are failing in all the ways that would make them desirable marriage partners. Black women outnumber them in the realm of success. Yet black women feel pressured into dating them because they don't want to feel they are abandoning them. We're told that we need to "support" the black man by dating him even when he isn't marriage material. This translates into marrying men who are former prisoners, blue collar workers or even unemployed. And don't think these former inmate, blue collar workers are going after "sisters" working at MacDonalds, no, they want women with college degrees and earning a decent living.

This book makes it clear that such imbalanced relationships not only work against the women who settle for them; but it also harms the black community on the whole. There are many DEAD professional black women slaughtered by their ex-felon husbands. This book also explores how the numbers imbalance harms women with standards. Many college educated black men are creating harems out of large groups of professional black women who insist on dating only black men. All these women remain in rotation while the man gets to pick and choose who he wants to really "be" with and even then he still has multiple sex partners. This is the truth! Banks says it much nicer than I do!

The author bravely suggests that the best solution is for black women to begin dating white men and other non-black men.
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62 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sourse material is King. The numbers do not lie. September 5, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This work is an excellent analysis of the current state of Black marriage in the U S. This book will make many people uncomfortable. No doubt there will be a number of "experts" who will attempt to do all they can to refute the hard facts presented in this book. Try as these "experts" may the fact of the matter is that the numbers do not lie. There are more Black Women who are marriage ready than there are Black men. Black Women know this. They now have the actual numbers to back up their suspicions.

There will be the expected attempts to "circle the wagons" by opinion makers in the Black Community in an effort to protect Black Males and the Black Community from scrutiny. However Dr. Banks book is full of supporting documentation, the studies and surveys, that back up the points he is making. This is a good thing since there is so much misinformation in the media and online re. the marriage prospects for Black Women. The reader can access the same source information the author did and read for themselves forming their own opinion.

Much has been made of the author's suggestion that Black Women should out marry in order to level the marriage playing field. For a slowly growing subset of Black women this will indeed be a viable option. For these women this book will be like preaching to the choir but for too many others I am afraid the information found it this book will fall on deaf ears. My guess is that the majority of Black Women will continue the ineffective interventions that they are currently using to endure their marriage less state. They will continue forming informal harems for the few marriage ready Black men hoping they will win the marriage lottery when this man gets good and ready to anoint one of them wife.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful book and I have recommended it to others
Very insightful book and I have recommended it to others. I was a bit miffed that a good portion of the book was references. I was expecting more content.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Clear and easy!
Published 2 months ago by Tiffany Stevens
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic book. A must read for every "single" black woman.
Published 6 months ago by Lorna Michel
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Controverisal Book
Is Marriage for White People is a misleading title, since it deals mostly with African Americans, and specifically African American women. Read more
Published 9 months ago by G. E. Merkison
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Thrilled.
I just wasn't too please with the outcome of the book and the bias associated with the book as well.
Published 9 months ago by Char...
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gift
I have no idea what this book is about as I bought it as a gift for my daughter. I was glad it was available as it was what she requested.
Published 13 months ago by art lover
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read.
Did a good job of showing all sides of various issues presented in the book. I recommend this for all single Black women.
Published 15 months ago by Yoruba Mutakabbir
4.0 out of 5 stars Good
The books cover was a little bent, but for my use that was perfectly fit with me. It will get the job done perfect.
Published 15 months ago by SLCasada
2.0 out of 5 stars Another propaganda piece from the media
attacking black women. I read this book and I'm not all that impressed by it whatsoever. Sure, I want black women to explore options but the fact of the matter most black women... Read more
Published 17 months ago by La Reyna
1.0 out of 5 stars Patriarchy Isn't A Panacea Solution For 43 Million Blacks!
My a priori criticism about the book based on my reading the title, all reviews, and the absence of the books mention by most feminist and progressive media and policy... Read more
Published 21 months ago by CivicCitizen
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More About the Author

Ralph Richard Banks is the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. He is an expert on topics related to race and inequality. His research addresses race and inequality issues across a variety of domains, from criminal justice to employment to the family. He has written and lectured widely in each of these areas. Professor Banks teaches equal protection law, family law, employment discrimination law, and race and the law. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and the University of Virginia Law School. Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 1998, Professor Banks was the Reginald F. Lewis Fellow at Harvard Law School and an attorney with the firm O'Melveny & Myers. He was a law clerk to Judge Barrington D. Parker, Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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