Friday, October 12, 2007

Marriage is Necessary For Us To Build A Legacy by Akindele Akinyemi

I went to go see Tyler's Perry's Why Did I Get Married tonight. That movie showed and depicted every single aspect of marriage that a black person can imagine. Some of the depictions were so powerful that I was reaching for my drink.

The story revolves around a "couples retreat" - a group vacation including several people you wouldn't want to share a cab ride with, let alone a week in a remote mountain cabin. There's not much skiing or sightseeing on the itinerary, but there sure is a whole lot of bickering.

For example, each couple has their own set of problems. Workaholic Diane (Sharon Leal) doesn't share husband Terry's (Perry) need to breed. Philandering Marcus (Michael Jai White) may have given acid-tongued Angela (Tasha Smith) a sexually transmitted disease. Psychologist Patricia (Janet Jackson) and architect Gavin (Malik Yoba) are living in denial of a family tragedy.

Then there's the thoroughly loathsome Mike (Richard T. Jones), who shows up at the cabin with his mistress after his wife, Sheila (Jill Scott), is thrown off their flight for being overweight. Sheila is forced to drive through a snowstorm and is treated to a pointlessly cruel barrage of insults from Mike once she arrives.
Why Did I Get Married
But the most important thing about the movie was the fact it showed the twists and turns of a marriage. Especially from an urban perspective. With the decline of marriage (and basic relationships) and the increase of out of wedlock births and out of wedlock relationships in our community today there is a dire need for more encouragement of re-building our relationships in our families. In Married, we saw how couple go through the most difficult situations and how they can forgive each other and reconcile their differences without throwing in the towel.

A movie like this is important because according to the U.S. Census, fewer than half of all black family households in 2006 were married-couple households, compared with 80 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander and 83 percent of white non-Hispanic households.

Outside of this outstanding movie that had me on the edge of my seat in order for us to solve the problem of blacks not marrying we need to openly start talking about it. Generally we're not even talking about marriage. We're kind of stuck on relationships. We can talk about relationships a whole lot, but what is the goal of the relationship? There is no goal. There is no focus.

When you hear about black marriages, you hear about, "Someone done me wrong," "We're headed to divorce court," "We're through." Or you hear that black people don't want to get married. We need to be able to tell the other side of the story, that there are wonderful and successful and healthy marriages out there that can be inspirational to other people. We need to know that the positives out there exist. We need some inspiration in our community about marriage.

We operate out of a lack of knowledge. Black men don't know the positives of marriage. Black women don't always know the positives of marriage. Black people have the lowest marriage rate in the country. If anybody needed to get the hookup it's us. There's been no black bachelor. The white community sees their problem. They're doing something to remedy it. You know they have all those shows about marriage. They're doing a nationwide push to get people in a position where they can marry. Where's our push? Who is helping the people with the worst marriage rate in the country?

Some ask about how to be a good wife but talk about dealing with the possibility of being alone. That's a cultural message out there that will destroy our community. If I had a daughter she would not be alone. Why? Because some man is going to want to marry my daughter. I'm not giving her a blues song. I'm going to give her a love song with hope and encouragement. If we grow up saying that, we put that out there and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If I'm preparing my daughter to be single, then that's what I'm preparing her to be. I'm not preparing her to be someone's wife. The same goes for our sons. We need to prepare our children for the best.

We need to support efforts like Black Marriage Day. This is an effort that is sponsored by the Wedded Bliss Foundation. Black Marriage Day is designed to highlight the benefits of married life and strengthen marriage in the black community.

With only 40 percent of black adults married, nearly 70 percent of their children born out of wedlock and 23 divorces for every 1,000 couples, according to government statistics, black women are the least legally partnered group in America.

It is a proven fact that black married men make more money. They are greater accumulators of wealth, as well as living longer and healthier. Further, successful marriage frees women from the burden of parenting and providing at the same time. It provides children with the comfort of both financial and emotional stability, and marriage gives children access to the two most important people in their lives on a day-to-day basis. That is why I support the proposed equal parenting bill that is in Lansing right now.

Black women are nearly five times as likely as white women to still be unmarried at age 40. Nearly half of black women age 30 to 34 have never been married, compared with 10 percent of white women in the same age category. Thirty-five percent of young black women go to college, compared with 25 percent of young black men. While 13.5 percent of black females drop out of high school, 17 percent of black males do.

I urge everyone of all races to check out Why Did I Get Married.It is an eye opener for those of us who are married, divorced, single or looking.

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