Synthesizing and Focusing the Debate

Tera R. Hurt, Iowa State University

This article is from Journal of Family Theory & Review. 2012 4(4)355-358. Posted with permission.


Ralph Richard Banks makes a substantial con- tribution to the field of Black relationships, and marriage in general, with the book Is Marriage for White People? How the African Ameri- can Marriage Decline Affects Everyone. Banks synthesizes research from law, sociology, and public health (to name a few) in his presenta- tion of issues salient to the changing landscape of relationship formation and maintenance. To offer concrete examples of relationship issues and to provide evidence to support his claims, Banks revisits well-known passages from popu- lar movies and fictional literature and integrates examples from qualitative interviews he con- ducted with single Black women in their 30s and 40s. In this review, I describe four central issues that Banks addresses—similarities in marriage trends across groups, the pattern of marrying down but not out, challenges linked to gender relations, and relationship transiency—and dis- cuss what I view as three limitations of the book.