*This is NOT ABOUT WHY black women don’t get married.*
Lisa Turtle. Zach Morris. They were two characters from the early ’90s sitcom Saved By The Bell. Most people 28 and older remember it.
During the show’s run, I, and I’m sure many other boys, had a serious crush on Lark Voorhies, who played Lisa. She had some valley girl tendencies, but who cared? Lisa was it! Watching Saved made me think high school was full of hijinks. If I could have fun, and get me a girl like Lisa, I just knew I would be…the…man!
There was a slight problem I didn’t notice until years later though. I don’t recall anybody that looked like me being on the show. There wasn’t one black male student in sight. How could this be? And further more, how could I get a girl like Lisa if she didn’t have an option like me?
During one of the later seasons, Zach and Lisa kissed. This shouldn’t be cause for alarm, but it kinda was. Interracial kissing and dating, as they’d progress to later, by teens wasn’t usually seen on TV. It’s the first time I even remember seeing a black woman and white man being involved. A convo on Twitter (where else) got me thinking about it again. Now that I’m older, I reexamined it from a different perspective.
In 2010, the Pew Research Center conducted a survey that found 8.4% of all U.S. marriages were interracial. This was more than 1.5 times the amount from 1980. Specifically, black women were only part of 5% of interracial marriages. As a group, black women married at a lower percentage anyway, and this bore out in the interracial percentage as well. The factors for this have been discussed ad nauseam, so tackling it here is moot. What isn’t though is the thought or feeling that a black woman “came up”, if she married outside the black diaspora.
Tyler Perry’s A Family That Preys is a good example. In the movie, Sanaa Lathan’s character is married to a blue collar black man, but she was carrying on an affair with a white partner at her firm. She felt like her husband was holding her back, and couldn’t wait to ditch him as soon as her fellow adulterer ditched his wife. Well, ol’ boy never left his wife, and Sanaa was stuck. She assumed that being with the white guy would give her access to the finer things in life. That never happened.
Zach and Lisa never really got going strong before there fling ended. Whatever the reason, however extra popular Lisa was for that time, once her and Zach were done, she was back to being chased by Screech. That’s a serious step back down; no offense to the Screeches of the world. This also leads to the next point.
However misguided it can be, perception can turn into reality. If the Lisas of the world are engaged or married to the Zachs of the world, they must be doing better overall right? Not exactly.
When we consider interracial marriage, it’s fair to assume we look at it from a patriarchy point of view. It’s socially ingrained in our collective conscience to do so. When we see black women married to white men, we assume that they’re more financially well off. We assume that they reside in more upscale neighbourhoods. Now consider black men married to white women.
The assumption stands that the couple resides in a more traditional middle class neighborhood. They are viewed as not being as well off as the BW/WM couple. Is this always the rule? Yes and no.
Yes because, if we look at married couples as a species, most species want to be around their own kind. They feel secure around like-minded and acting other couples. No because each couple is different. What works and is true for one couple may not be true for another. It’s all based on assumptions that have replicated themselves until the assumptions have become self-fulfilling.
Realize that there is truth in stereotypes. There is also a personal story built upon the stereotypes. For black women who choose to be associated with white men, this is no different. However, they all have individual, personal reasons for why they choose the men that they do. It’s not really anybody’s business to understand, or know why they did.