Archive for June, 2010

Really, Why Do Blacks Marry Interracially?

        Pew Research recently (2008) conducted a study where they found that Asians and Hispanics are more likely to marry interracially than Blacks.  More specifically, out of the newlyweds in the study Asians’ interracial marriages comprised 31% of the group while 28 % of the Hispanic  newlyweds were married interracially.  The interesting thing is that in the past few decades, the influx of Asian and Hispanic immigrants has increased exponentially, making the pool of prospects greater for these groups.  And although interracial marriages have increased almost 7% within the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the disparity in number across racial/ethnic groups is noteworthy.  Which begs the question:  If the availability of  potential mates for Asian and Hispanic increases with the influx of immigrants, why do these groups choose to marry someone other than Asian or Hispanic, respectively?

         Well, the question is not about why Asians and Hispanics marry outside of their race/ethnicity more frequently given the surge in immigration from Latin and Asian countries.  Deductively, we should explore why Blacks marry interracially despite this being the case for us.  When the Census estimates that by the middle of the century the minority will be the majority, they are not referring to Blacks.  Blacks do not migrate to this country in record numbers this day and age.  But let’s look at the factors that affect their choices to intermarry:  many Latin and Asian countries have strict cultural standards and societal expectations that inhibits or denounces intermarrying (although historically more Asians intermarried than what is believed by many).  So it should be of no surprise that coming to the U.S., the land of the free, that they would choose to exercise and/or explore the “forbidden fruit” since it is much more acceptable here .   In addition, since many foreigners come to this country to realize their economic dreams of acquiring riches, it would seem obvious that they would marry someone other than a compatriot, opting for someone who theoretically would give them a financial or economic “head start”.   However, the fact that the study indicates that it is the American born Hispanics and Asians that are more likely to intermarry than their immigrant brethren, shoots holes in those theories.  So the real question then becomes:  What perceived benefits do Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans have in intermarrying that Blacks overlook? 

       According to the same study, only 16% of the Black newlywed couples were interracial, which is third in the sample group of Whites, Asians, Blacks and Hispanics.  Although the numbers change according to the region of the country the couples reside, i.e. Black interracial marriages make up 38% of the marriage population on the West coast, in all four regions of the U.S. Blacks still come in third with the number of interracial unions.   And since some studies indicate that middle class and educated Blacks that are more likely to marry non-Blacks than lower-income or uneducated Blacks, which is not necessarily the case for Asians and Hispanics, it is clear that getting that “head start” is not necessarily the motivating factor for us.  This does not mean, however, that Blacks who marry other races are not interested in achieving economic success, it just indicates that the lower-income Blacks do not see “marrying up” as a priority. 

          Do the beliefs of self-hatred or rebellion have any validity?  Or is our loyalty to our race much more widespread than we would like to think?  I would like to hear your thoughts.

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Learning Relationship Skills: Is it the Parent or School’s Responsibility

        I recently posted an entry about Emotional Intelligence because I thought about how it played out in our personal lives.  However, when I attended the conference in Denver recently (see my post Emotional Intelligence = Relationship Success) I had a discussion with a psychologist who specialized in couples counseling and he mentioned the need for teaching relationship skills to children beyond merely the level taught in daycare/pre-school.  He emphasized that a lot of couples face issues not because they do not want to cooperate with each other, they want to have conflict or they do not understand their roles but because many of us are not taught these necessary skills until we are in relationships and even then many of us still have no clue. 

        I always mention to people that my parents (really my mother because my Dad was not in the home) did not teach me how to be a mate, she only admonished about the things I should be aware of and/or to avoid in a relationship (none of which really mattered when I think about it.)  Now that I am in a committed relationship, I realize how much I do not know and am yearning to understand.  Grant it, much of it is trial and error, growth and just life experiences that enlightens us…but much of it is what was or was not learned from young.  In today’s society it is easy to have relationship, either romantic or platonic, and have very little social interaction given the popularity of texting, emailing, social networking and the like.  So highly essential social skills like courtesy, consideration, compassion and respect have almost completely escaped our evolution. 

        How does our lack of relationship skills manifest itself?  Well, it is almost commonplace for men and women to invade the other’s privacy, to ignore explicit boundaries and to outright show a total lack of disregard for another’s feelings, all without any remorse or concern.   For example, I was in a supermarket and walked up on two cashiers discussing going through their boyfriend’s cell phone to read messages and to see the call history.  One of the cashiers was cavalier about her constant invasion by stating that all girlfriends do it, while the other cashier (and me too once I chimed in) emphatically disagreed stating that it was “disrespectful” and “not right”.   Now that is one lesson that my mother did teach me that I hold steadfast to til this day, it is not right to invade anyone’s privacy under no circumstances (unless danger is imminent of course.)  This I learned at a very young age, and have only developed an understanding of how significant it is as I matured.  Or how about the recent incident where a wife had to find out on Facebook that her husband was pursuing a divorce from her, how humiliating for her and socially inept of him.

        I believe that if children are taught in school and at home, then we have a win-win.  Some educators actually do agree that it is their responsibility and do try to implement these valuable lessons into their curriculum or lesson plans.  (Read http://teachers.net/gazette/wordpress/susan-fitzell/relationship-skills-and-our-role-as-teachers-and-parents/ In addition, not only does it reduce bullying in younger children but relationship abuse and violence amongst teens are also diminished, which in essence minimizes the possibility of being in high conflict relationships as adults.  Learning relationship or social skills include learning interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills and conflict resolution, all of which are essential in intimate relationships. 

         Although we are far from seeing relationship skills lesson plans becoming systemic in the school system, we are making strides in that many educators are aware of the need and are making personal and professional choices to incorporate it.  If we want the Black community, Black family and Black relationships to last and to grow, then we must insist that our children learn early on that the world does not revolve around them.

I Am On a Mission, If It Kills Me I Will Effect Change

        I was MIA last week because I attended the AFCC conference in Denver, Colorado last week.  For those of you who are not familiar, the AFCC (Association for Family and Conciliation Courts) is a worldwide organization comprised of all professionals that work with families in custody, visitation, abuse or divorce matters.  Specifically, the members of the organization are psychologists, therapists, social workers, attorneys, judges, parent coordinators, parent educations and anyone else who has anything to do with providing services to families in conflict.  I attended the conference for several reasons, of course the main one being my profession, that had everything to do with the mission that I have been on for the past few years.  And although I learned a lot, the theme of this year’s conference was addressing “parental alienation“, most of what I learned had nothing to do with the theme. 

        You see one thing is very clear, though this was no epiphany for me, White families and Black families have very different core issues that impacts them.   I emphasize “core” because although money, health, conflict, etc. matters are ubiquitous amongst the races, the basis or impetus for our issues vary drastically from those of our White counterparts.  Let me give you an example,  in many of the workshops that were presented, which all had something to do with parents who deliberately and maliciously brainwash their children against their non-custodial parent which is typically the father, all of the speakers centered their discussions on the presumption that only divorced or separating parents have children and therefore alienate them.   The whole time I am there, I am wondering if anyone, ANYONE, will highlight, mention or even state in passing that children are a product of never married parents also and they too are alienated.   So I am baffled because I was also thinking, on the one hand these are some of the same experts who are quick to assert that the number of children born to unmarried parents have surged since the 90’s, paying special attention to the fact that Blacks comprise a huge percentage of that group.  While on the other hand, they seemed to oblivious to this fact, almost convincing us that we are all equal in their eyes.  Now many of us will more likely struggle to see the optimism in this quagmire.  It is no coincidence, nor unconscious oversight, that out-of-wedlock children, specifically Blacks, were not included.   Not by a long shot, it was an intentional objective of this group to only address how the White population is affected by this pernicious behavior, all  in an effort to find favorable resolutions to all that ails them.

        But I did not let that dissuade me, not at all.  On the contrary, I am more determined to pursue my mission and ensure that each one of us do our part.  We just have to take an approach that is tailored to our needs.   The African American Healthy Marriage Initiative (“AAHMI”) is having their 5th Annual “Research to Practice” conference at Hampton University this month and I am certain to attend.  (Go to aahmi.net for the details.) This conference is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families and aims to encourage more research on issues germane to the Black family.   So if any of you feel where I am coming from, you should make it your business to attend.   If they don’t want to provide answers or solutions for us, then we should take the initiative and do it for ourselves, the future of our community depends on it.