Why Aren’t College-Educated Black Women Meeting Their Match?

There is a phenomenon that has many names, but is most commonly trademarked as “ring by spring” or obtaining an “Mrs. Degree”. While the terms have a negative connotation–implying that a young woman’s main intention when attending college is to find a partner–it sheds light on the very real experience of young, white women finding their partners on campus.

It isn’t comparable the the experience of college-educated black women who are 53% less likely to marry well-educated man (with at least some post-secondary education) than their white counterparts.

Whether dating to marry or focusing to date at all is a priority for black women in college, factors like systemic racism, preference, and stigma in society influenced by the western beauty standards play into the experience of single hood among black female college students.

Issues like a higher mortality rate among black men–both for health reasons, and for systematic violence–including police brutality, affects the gender proportions, in the black community. In terms of challenges surrounding completion of secondary education, factors like being a first-generation college student, needing to work a full-time job while in school, or not having the savings or financial support to afford tuition slow down the rate of which black men graduate.

Long standing images and stereotypes assigned to black femininity that devalues it as something that is deviant and undesirable also play a role in why “Blackness, particularly gendered blackness, was not framed as something that is beautiful, that can be desirable. And this impacts people’s experiences”. On dating apps, black women with college degrees are more likely to be passed on by non-black men than a white woman with less education.

Tension from other community members also play a part. “Black women often face a double standard when they date outside their race because sexuality and intimate decisions are more policed among other black communities. Black men for example. Whereas African-American men might not face the same type of gendered policing that black women do, but they would most likely interracially date on campus.

Marriage has increasingly become an institution that is tied to social class, like expensive proposals, rings and weddings–all behaviors that are seen as white. There are still differences, but they do look a lot more similar, across race and education when other forms of relationships are factored in.

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