My Valentine is Black, and yours is too

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Barack Obama has had a huge impact on American politics, being the first Black president, and ending eight years of Republican rule is no small feat. But heading into Valentine’s Day, it’s even clearer that Barack and Michelle Obama have an even bigger im

Barack Obama has had a huge impact on American politics, being the first Black president, and ending eight years of Republican rule is no small feat. But heading into Valentine’s Day, it’s even clearer that Barack and Michelle Obama have an even bigger impact on the Black community. They epitomize the resurgence, (or at least the public re-discovery) of that often-abused concept of “Black Love.”

“Black Love” and by extension the power and significance of stable African American marriages and relationships is critical to the success of our people. However, “Black Love” has been under full assault for the last five years or so in both pop culture and politics. OutKast’s hit song "Ms. Jackson" helped popularize the term “baby momma” and highlighted the all too frustrating statistic that more than 60 percent of African American children in this country are born out of wedlock.

Even worse, the enduring myth that there is a lack of “eligible” Black men in America led to a spate of films focusing directly or indirectly on interracial relationships between Black women and white men despite the relative rarity of this pairing. Movies like – "Something New," "Napoleon Dynamite," "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Guess Who," and most egregiously "Monster’s Ball" were all the rage over the last several years. Despite the fact that less than 3 percent of married Black women in America are married to white men, most of these films were predicated on the myth that either Black men didn’t want Black women, or worse that Black women were better off with white men. This in no way calls into question people finding love, or marriage with someone of any color, but these pairings fly in the face of the real facts about “Black Love,” and ignore the very real racial implications of marriage and relationships in America.

African American overall marriages rates have actually increased over the last 10 years. Further, 2006 census numbers show 93 percent of married Black men are married to Black women, and 97 percent of Black women who are married are married to Black men. These numbers are even more impressive when you consider that African Americans marry each other at a higher rate than Asians and Latinos. Of course this leads to the most enduring stereotype about African American love and marriage. That our ‘best and brightest’ pine for the love of another color. You can hardly broach the subject of “Black love” at a dinner party without someone spouting off the name of a random sports or Hollywood celebrity who “has given up on our people.” However, the numbers just don’t bear this out. Look at the NBA All Star teams from 2005 to 2008 for example. Eighty percent of married Black men on the NBA All Star teams over the last 4 years are married to Black women. How’s that for a stereotype breaker?

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