Up front disclosure: I am NOT a sociologist, nor have I ever stayed at a Holiday Inn Express.
Last year, when for whatever perverse reason, my cable company decided to reconfigure the numbers on the station program guide, I inadvertently stumbled across a show, “Married at First Sight.”
It seemed fascinating. I was hooked. I then fast forwarded through most of the earlier episodes…EVERYTHING is available somewhere on the net.
FYI, I’ll add some links at the end, but here’s the 411. The show is a whole new twist on dating, and marriage. Individuals who want to get married go through a rigorous interviewing and screening process. Then, trained professionals, among them a sexologist, a social worker, a shrink, and a spiritual adviser, match up the most likely couples. They agree, in advance, to get legally married, WITHOUT SEEING OR MEETING THEIR FUTURE SPOUSE UNTIL THEY BOTH SHOW UP AT THE ALTER.
They go on a honeymoon, then move in together, and live as man and wife for seven weeks. Consummation is optional, and varies per couple. After which time, they both decide to stay married (A SUCCESSFUL MATCH) or get a divorce.
The basic premise is that today’s younger generations, the X’ers, millenials, whatevers..lack commitment in their relationships. So by agreeing to marry, and stick it out..as opposed to say, Tinder, speed dating, Match.com, or just moving in together, they will try harder to MAKE IT WORK.
So, it seems we go from “hooking up” to this. Though that obvious connection isn’t addressed.
The third season of the show just started, and, yes, I’ll admit it..I couldn’t wait. (FYI..they’ve previously matched six couples, and two are still happily married. So much for the experts, eh?)
Anyway, this season the show moved from NYC to Atlanta, to have a wider, and different demographic among the potential candidates for matching up.
Nearly all the prospective brides and grooms are in their late 20’s to early 30’s…almost all are college educated, and have successful careers, mostly white collar.
The episodes at the beginning of each season that deal with the screening and matching process..up to when the couple actually meet, and marry, are, IMHO, far better than what happens after (think American Idol, or The Voice…the auditions were always far better than the actual competition)
Atlanta is THE place for young, educated black professionals to live and work, and, oh yeah..date. And a good number of these tried out for the show.
But here’s where it get fascinating. During discussions about how the interviewing, screening, and matching process works, one of the professional matchmakers dropped this not-so-little-bomb. She was admittedly surprised to learn that the vast majority of black men did NOT want to be paired with a black woman.
However, most of the black females ONLY wanted to be matched with a black male.
And these were all very strongly expressed opinions and values.
So, what does this apparent dichotomy tell us, in an era when younger Americans are supposedly embracing a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, vision of America? What former NYC Mayor David Dinkins called a “gorgeous mosaic” back in the 1980’s.
At a superficial level, is it the ESPN syndrome? Face it, it seems that most black professional athletes have white wives or girlfriends. OTOH, I can count on the fingers of Jason Pierre-Paul’s right hand the number of white professional athletes married to black women.
Or it is the effect of two plus decades of rap music, which has long depicted black women as “bitches” and “hos” and has conditioned young black men from an early age to view their “sistahs” as such?
But looking at this from a broader perspective, this would seem to indicate a near-transformational event in the black family structure. Today, twice as many black women than men are enrolled in college, or have recently obtained a degree.
And these women, as is perfectly normal, want to marry, establish a home, and have children. The pool of eligible black men is already severely diminished; given that about half either have been or are currently incarcerated.
But if the overwhelming majority of the remaining eligible black male marriage pool pretty much disqualifies ANY black female from consideration; well then…..
So what’s a young, educated, black female to do?
There are pretty much three options:
1. Remain unmarried. While possibly the most logical choice, it’s the least satisfying emotionally and psychologically.
2. Settle for someone beneath their economic and educational status, and often with a criminal record. Sadly, these marriages usually don’t work out, as the differences become too great to overcome after a while. And the children often end up being abandoned by the father.
3. Make the conscious decision to become a single parent. And even for educated and economically grounded black women, this is still a lot harder than doing it with the support, both emotionally and financially, of a mate. And of course, the child grows up absent a father figure in the home, and another generational cycle is skewed in the wrong direction.
So, while the on-air admission that a large percentage of professional, educated black men don’t want to wed black women is fairly shocking, one wonders if they were then ever asked “why not?”
And if the question was in fact posed, then what were the responses, and what do they tell us. Or are we not yet ready to go “there?”
The counterpoint is equally curious. Why do so many educated black women automatically excluded any male outside their race as a prospective mate?
That also would be fascinating to know. And I, for one, haven’t a clue. It makes no sense. Again, is it perhaps a place to where we are still not yet ready to “go”?
The near total collapse of the black family over the last 40 years has been well documented, beginning with Pat Moynihan’s seminal 1976 study. Today, nearly 75% of black babies are born out of wedlock, and the vast majority of those to teenage girls, with no education or job prospects; and thus totally dependent on the welfare system and culture. And every 15-20 years, a new generation is born into total despair.
That’s one of the reasons why we are witnessing the horrendous murder rate in Chicago. To these kids immersed in the gang and drug culture, life is cheap, if not meaningless. Therefore, mindless, wanton killing is no big deal.
But if the majority of the upper economic and social strata of the black population is not willing to marry within that peer group, then what does it say for the future ( if any) of the black family unit going forward?
If you want to watch any or all, here’s the link to the show’s website:
The comments referenced above occurred on episode E 0, the “Matchmaking Special.” (Scroll down the homepage)
To watch you have to log in via your cable system.