"HOW can the decline of black marriage be reversed?" - YOUR chance - 12/05
smartmarriages at lists101.his.com
Mon Dec 12 08:45:10 EST 2005
- BLOG AWAY
This mornings ATLANTA Journal-Constitution asks: "How can the decline of
black marriage be reversed? What do you think?" HOW? Let us count the ways!
This Blog is the companion to a series of articles on Black Marriage by
Benin Dakar, the first of which is below. Ms Dakar invites us all to PULEEZE
participate in the BLOG. - diane
- DROP IN BLACK MARRIAGE HURTS FAMILIES
By BENIN DAKAR
Atlanta Journal Constitution
> In a very real and unsentimental way, the future of an empowered, effectual
> and enduring black America is wedded to our efforts to increase black marriage
Marriage is the most enduring present that Otis and Elaine Dickerson of
Duluth have given themselves and their four children.
On Dec. 18, 1953, on the first birthday of their baby boy Eric, the young
and determined African-American couple were married in the modest home of
Otis' mother in a working-class Baltimore neighborhood.
Their commitment to rear their children son Eric (now known as Sitawi
Jahi), of Baltimore; and daughters Marcia Dickerson, 50, of Duluth; Sheila
Conway, 44, of Columbia, Md.; and Leslie Pickett, 43, of Alpharetta as a
faithful husband and wife provided the emotional support and economic
wherewithal for the couple and their offspring to find their way into the
Although the Dickersons' marriage had some of the usual rough spots that
even good marriages are certain to experience, Otis and Elaine remain
steadfast in making it work, not just for themselves but as an example to
their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Otis, a 73-year-old naval veteran and a retired civilian courier for Naval
Services in Washington, and Elaine, a 71-year-old retired cryptanalyst from
The National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Md., say their partnership
enabled them to succeed in the workplace, to become homeowners and to rear
stable and productive children.
What makes the story of Otis and Elaine Dickerson exceptional is that fewer
and fewer young black couples who find themselves in a "family way" are
following their lead to the altar.
The decline of marriage, especially in many low-income black communities, is
cracking the foundation of the black nuclear family and worsening poverty
and child welfare. According to The Brookings Institution, 70 percent of
African-American children are born out of wedlock and up to 85 percent of
African-American children will spend some or all of their childhood in a
This is important because the emotional and economic security of children is
greatly reduced in single-parent homes. Of course, there are noteworthy
exceptions to the rule, but by and large, children from two-parent homes
simply fare better.
The reasons for declining black marriage rates are varied and complex, said
Lorraine Blackman, associate professor of social work at Indiana University
and director of the African-American Family Life Education Institute.
The women's movement of the 1970s enhanced opportunities for many black
women and changed their expectations of marriage, Blackman said.
Simultaneously, because of a changing economy, job opportunities for
non-college-educated black men have decreased.
Furthermore, Blackman said, the government has inadvertently discouraged
marriage among lower-income black women by denying them such safety net
supports as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and food stamps if there
is evidence of a man in the household.
Surprisingly, many black clergy who stood at the forefront of opposing
same-sex marriage are eerily quiet when it comes to addressing the crisis of
declining African-American marriage rates. The irony is that while same-sex
marriage has little, if any, impact on the well-being of the black
community, decreasing marriage rates between a black man and a black woman
threaten to erode black social and economic progress.
Despite the intricacy of understanding and addressing the issue of declining
marriage in the black community and the fact that there are no quick fixes,
we still can hope that other young black couples will choose to emulate Otis
In a very real and unsentimental way, the future of an empowered, effectual
and enduring black America is wedded to our efforts to increase black
Send replies to this newslist to: diane at smartmarriages.com Do not hit
"reply" - that goes to a filter. This is a moderated list. Replies are read
by Diane Sollee, editor. Please indicate if your response is NOT to be
shared with the list. PLEASE include your email address with your
To SUBSCRIBE, or Change your subscription address,
use the form on our website: http://www.smartmarriages.com. Click Newslist -
right under the puzzle piece.
This newslist shares information on marriage, divorce and educational
approaches. Opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by members of the
To read ALL past posts to the newsletter, visit the Archive at:
Subscribe to the free e-newslist at http://www.smartmarriages.com
List your program in the Directory of Classes at
Order conference audio & video tapes/CD/DVDs: 800-241-7785 or
10th Annual Smart Marriages Conference, Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel,
June 22-25, 2006
Pre and Post Conference Training Institutes June 20-28
Subscribe to the FREE Smart Marriages e-newslist at
Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couples Education, LLC (CMFCE)
Diane Sollee, Director
5310 Belt Rd NW, Washington, DC 20015-1961
cmfce at smartmarriages.com
FAIR USE NOTICE: This e-newsletter/site contains copyrighted material the
use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright
owner. We make such material available in our efforts to advance
understanding of marriage, family, couples, divorce, legislation, family
breakdown, etc. We understand this constitutes a 'fair use' of such material
as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with
Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed
without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the
included information for research and educational purposes. For more
information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you
wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own
that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright
Benin Dakar of Duluth is a writer and owner of a property management
company. This is the first of a series of articles on Black Marriage.
More information about the SmartMarriages