A couple of days before Christmas 2011, The Grio reported new statistics on black women and marriage. In sum, only 52 percent of black women are likely to be married before the age of 30, and 32 percent of black women that divorce are likely to remarry within five years. Both stats are at least 30 percent higher for white women.
There are a number of layers to this discussion. How many eligible men are out there? What perspectives do men and women have on marriage now that may not have been present or culturally acceptable 20 years ago?
Amidst all of these layers, the case can be made for higher education playing a role in helping to sort the whole thing out. What better place to self-discover and discuss among peers about gender roles, the socio-economics of relationships, and other issues that build lifelong bliss, or reveal total incompatibility?
The HBCU, specifically for the African-American community and along with the church and the civic organization, may be among the key institutions that can foster real foundations for marriage. Sure, you can’t trust 18 to 22 year olds to step out of immaturity in their first real taste of freedom. And no; college doesn’t dilute crazy and it doesn’t unload the personal baggage of those who attend.
But it may just be the right kind of place for burgeoning black professionals to find each other at the fledgling stages of their careers and lifestyles, with an ideal culture to foster interpersonal harmony as a result. Here’s five reasons why the HBCU is the latest and greatest inspiration for black matrimony.
5. Ready Made Relationship Incubator - Most people are looking for a potential mate that equals them in outlook, experiences, cultural upbringing, and ambition. Between Greek and on-campus organizations, and the small size and family atmosphere of the schools, you can’t help but to share a class, a community service project, a late night of planning or pledging stories with a compatible member of the opposite sex.
4. The ‘Battle of the Sexes’ Forum - Try to find an HBCU that doesn’t have some forum featuring ‘men vs. women’ perspectives and debates. Politics, relationships, gender roles, love and marriage, some organization on every HBCU yard has this kind of discussion at least once a year.
And frankly, they are the best places to meet single folks.
3. Examples of marital longevity - How many times have you been to an HBCU function and seen alumni who grew from college sweethearts into life partners with 50 years of marriage?
2. Mandatory Fidelity - The wicked combination of students with limited funds, limited transportation and living in small campus communities makes for the best chances for a committed relationship. EVERY HBCU across decades has tales of spurned men or women catching a significant other coming out of the wrong dorm at the wrong time of morning or night. If you can’t afford hotels, gas money or weekend getaways, its cheaper and safer to pick one and stick with him/her.
1. Data Driven Reasons to Love – Some HBCUs actually have research centers dedicated to making the black marriage and family stronger. Hampton University boasts one of the best.