Where the Guys Aren't Successful Black Women Say It's Hard to Find Eligible Black Men on Their Level. as a Result, More Women Are Turning to Interracial Relationships or Staying Single

By DeFiglio, Pam | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 27, 2003 | Go to article overview

Where the Guys Aren't Successful Black Women Say It's Hard to Find Eligible Black Men on Their Level. as a Result, More Women Are Turning to Interracial Relationships or Staying Single


DeFiglio, Pam, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Pam DeFiglio Daily Herald Staff Writer

Kelly Ammons would like to get married, but she's not finding many prospects.

"I'm single, and I've been looking, but I haven't really found the guy I'm looking for," says the 35-year old sales manager for a Wood Dale company.

"There aren't many men out there on the same wavelength as women as far as pursuing a career and buying a condo," she reports. "It's challenging."

It's a complaint many women - and men - her age share, but as a successful black woman, Ammons finds herself in a group that, statistically, struggles to find love.

While many women like Ammons find the man of their dreams, increasing numbers of professional black women say they are having a hard time finding black men who have made comparable achievements in their careers.

As a result, many are staying single.

The number of never-married black women increased five-fold in the last 50 years, jumping from 1.2 million in 1950 to 5.7 million in 1998, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Today, nearly half (47 percent) of black women in the 30-to-34 age range have never married, compared with 10 percent of white women.

There are, of course, other options.

Many are pursuing interracial relationships, a prospect that historically has been embraced by black men more than black women. Times have clearly changed. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of black women who married white men tripled from 1980 to 1998, from 45,000 to 120,000.

"There's a lot of interracial dating in the suburbs," says Janice Fenn, a single from Lisle who works as a human resources consultant. "If you find a person who has the qualities you're looking for, race becomes less important."

Then there are those who say this "man shortage" problem isn't a problem at all. There are plenty of good, single, black men out there, they say, if only women would stop worrying about money.

"I've heard women on TV saying there's no good black men," says Barrington resident Norris Wilburn, who works in auto sales. "But as soon as they get off the dollar sign, they'll find what they're looking for."

Marriage material

Veronica Chambers, a former Newsweek reporter, discusses the "marriage crunch" in her book, "Having It All? Black Women and Success" (Doubleday, $23.95).

Chambers says in a single generation black women have parlayed college degrees and hard work into unprecedented achievement. But she notes the more educated the woman, the less likely she is to meet black suitors who can match her credentials.

"It is perhaps the most disturbing truth of our generation: that we are better educated, better paid, more fulfilled and more likely to be alone than any other groups of black women before us," she writes.

As a group, black women don't yet outearn black men. But college-educated black women do earn more than the median for all black working men - or, for that matter, for all women.

The income gap will likely become more pronounced, as black women continue to enroll in college at a greater rate than their male counterparts. Twenty-five percent of young black males go to college, compared to 35 percent of women.

The difference is evident locally as well. Black women enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago outnumber black men by 3 to 1. At Roosevelt University, it's 4 to 1.

That has translated into dynamic career success for black women as a group. But it also means that far fewer black men gain college degrees, which they could use as a springboard to good white-collar jobs.

As a result, many successful black women are looking around their corporate suites and finding few black men there to date or marry.

Upscale magazine, an Atlanta-based magazine targeted to the black community, pinpointed the problem this month when writer Laconia Jenkins surveyed black women, asking them to cite the top four reasons they weren't married. …

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