G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Razib Khan posted interracial couples’ divorce data. Across black and white interracial marriages, white male-black female (WM-BF) pairings had half the divorce rate of all-white pairings. In contrast, black male-white female (BM-WF) marriages had twice the divorce rate of all-white pairings.
This means, roughly, that BM-WF pairings are four times as likely to divorce as WM-BF couples.
I mention this because of something that my new favorite pin-cushion, Ta-Nehisi Coates, wrote. I’m picking on Coates because, well, I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about. When discussing the topic of interracial marriages’ lesser success, he says things like:
“It’s not clear that, say, getting past race will be any harder than getting past the fact that your spouse doesn’t like to drink or drinks too much, or that he or she goes to church every week and you haven’t been in five years.”
Liberals always, always, always forget one magic economic phrase: ceteris paribus. Everything else being equal. Over the spectrum of all interracial couples – on the whole, in the aggregate, in general, and for the most part – skin color brings on different problems that must be addressed. But somehow, because of the other factors at play, some interracial couples are better able to deal with this added pressure.
A white couple in which one partner goes to church regularly while one goes every five years has one less distinctive variable than an interracial couple with similar church attendance patterns: race. Liberals and progressives always try to reduce social patterns to ideological forms by saying “but there are examples of…” or “I know a friend who…” Yeah, me too; I’ll tell you a doozy in a few days.
So what’s the reason for the statistical discrepancy? If, as Coates tries to purvey in his argument that black-white couples – no matter the disparate race of the male – are equivalent in nature, shouldn’t they have similar marriage experiences and similar divorce rates? Some other explanatory factor – some difference between the interracial couple analogues – is causing this. Here goes:
In interracial relationships, black women act whiter while white women act blacker – whatever that means. Women tend to bend to their “chosen” husband’s cultural disposition – for the most part. This pattern holds true across most interracial marriages.
White men who marry black women are more SWPL, diverse, and multicultural. Black women who marry white men are more educated and listen to bands like The Pixies. White women who marry black men – while trying to put forth the aura of diversity-lover for diversity’s sake – act more like black women. They listen to rap, get tattoos, and talk in a distinctively non-white accent.
Black females tend to marry white males more for status, education, and income. Observing the tendency for higher incidence of these characteristics in a marriage allows for healthier marriages. These relationships become more about sustaining partnerships and developing companion roles giving them the incentive to thrive and survive despite the race difference. It seems that the racial difference in these pairings enters into the fabric of the relationship and strengthens it overall. And just as liberal couples tend to have lower divorce rates – because they wait longer to get married – the same pattern is likely at play in WM-BF couples.
This is opposite white females who tend to marry black men for aesthetics, swagger, The Sex, or “how they make them feel”. There is also likely a tendency to marry at younger ages – which implies lower socioeconomic status and lower education and is correlated with higher divorce rates. I don’t connote a value to those decisions – I’m a sexual libertarian, marry the one you love – but it seems that passion rests on sandstone while partnership rests on granite.
It seems that marriages that in marriages entered into through the partnership framework, adverse conditions strengthen the bond while the reverse is true in relationships founded on more shaky ground. The racial difference of BM-WF pairings is a stronger force than in the analogue because the former have less substantial grounds for making the partnership work.
So Ta-Nehisi Coates’ article is right in one aspect – marriages take work. Both BM-WF and WM-BF pairings require work to survive. The differentiating quality is the underlying reasons for marriage decisions. These decisions are not equal across the matrix of interracial couples. White women marry black men for different reasons than black women marrying white men.
The former, as any grandmother would tell you, marry for all the wrong reasons.