A viral TikTok video of White, female college graduates showing off their engagement rings as they wait to receive their degrees has resurfaced polarized conversations about “Black women who are 53% less likely to marry a well-educated man than their white counterparts,” according to a new Insider report.
Anjerrika Bean, the assistant director of Howard University’s Center for Women, Gender and Global Leadership, was one person who chimed in the conversation, stating that “for Black women attending college, we’re really striving to level the playing field or become economically stable,” she told the publication. “Our goal is to secure a career, and in turn, secure our families. Securing a spouse isn’t the ultimate agenda for us. That doesn’t mean we aren’t interested in it, but it isn’t the reason we are choosing to further our education at said institution.”
The report further added that several factors, including racism, preference, and society influenced by western beauty standards, played into whether Black women chose to prioritize dating and marriage.
In the book, The Dating Divide: Race and Desire in the Era of Online Romance, “young Black women, like most everyone else, want to marry someone who’s similarly educated. But in a society where Black women are among the highest educated female demographic in America (in terms of post-secondary education) and only 36% of Black male students complete a bachelor’s degree within six years, the dating pool drastically decreases for college Black women seeking an equal on campus,” according to the report.
The article further indicates that the higher mortality rate among Black men (both for health and violence-related), the encounters around having to work while in school because of financial constraints and being a first-generation college student, all affect the gender proportions in the Black community.
“We have an economic system that creates real inequality, in particular for Black men. And so you have a situation known as the marriage squeeze, where Black women tend to be more highly educated than Black men because of the different ways in which a racist society impacts men versus women,” said Jennifer Lundquist, professor of Sociology and Senior Associate Dean of Research & Faculty Development at the University of Massachusetts.