Monday, June 14, 2010

Black "SWANS"-Stong Women Achievers, No Spouse

In my internet travels today, I came across an article by Dr. Linda Young on Dr. Young is an attractive, successful black woman who writes a column called "Love in Limbo" for the magazine in which she analyzes dating and mating for those of us in the blogosphere with an armchair interest in psychology. Today's entry was entitled "High Achieving Black Women: Not Choosing or Not Chosen?" Of course, with a title like that, I knew it was something I had to read!

Using the phrase "SWANS"-- strong women achievers, no spouse--coined by Christine Whelan in her 2006 book Why Smart Men Marry Smart Women, Dr. Young analyzed the impact of education and income on black women's marital status. She reached a conclusion that surprises no one: there are more black women with advanced degrees, making incomes over $100,000 than there are black men. In fact, according to her data, there are 157 black women with college degrees for every 100 black men-- and 209 black women with masters or higher for every 100 black men. Compare that with 133 white women, 101 asian women, and 173 latina women to 100 of their men and you see what all the attention on this issue is about.

The link to Dr. Young's blog is here.

These numbers suggest that, across the board, American women are becoming better educated than American men... but nowhere is this more evident than in the black community. While the long term ramifications of this growing trend have yet to emerge, Dr. Young suggests that black SWANS who are ready to trade "no spouse" for coupledom throw out a wide net. She took her own advice: her husband is also a PhD and shares her values and interests. He happens to be white, too, but he can't help that, can he? (smiles-that's a little joke in our house!)

Regardless of education and income, however, my position is and always has been that character, common ground and common interests are the stuff of solid relationships. Looks are nice, but they can often change. While race may be largely immutable, so many of our other physical qualities will alter with age, with the state of our health, due to accident or other misfortune. Let's not forget: some diseases even alter skin shade.

Incomes can change, too-- and choices based solely on bank accounts often don't have what it takes to go the distance when the money runs out.

But the core of one's character is another matter. Let it be the guiding star in all your relationships-- romantic and otherwise-- and all else will follow.

Dr. Young seems to be on the same page. I'll be adding Love in Limbo to the blog roll and keeping up with her future posts.


  1. My husband is French. The interesting thing is that I had way more in common with hin than many Americans. It pays to check out the common ground first. It is the one thing that will matter when hard times come. Getting with someone whose has an education level the same as yours just makes sense regardless of what silly people try to say. The point is to find someone that you can share your life without feeling you are shoving a square peg in a round hole. I thank God for my lovely husband. It took me a while to get here but it was well worth the wait.

  2. I though I was the only nerd who read the Psychology Today articles! Usually I read the articles of one of my former English profs, Regina Barecca.

    Jon and I are very similar. We both value education for its own sake, we love to read and discuss current events, we are both opinionated and we find one another's intellect sexy and refreshing. It boggles my mind that people think race is this thing that can hold a couple together, as if race/skin color is all people are.

    Jon and I were both raised here in CT and we went to the same college, though we didn't know each other. We both felt isolated as nerdy, weird kids. We both want to give our kids stellar top-notch educations and we'd rather make less $ and have more time together. I give anyone the side-eye who thinks a bw PhD will automatically have a ton in common with a bm UPS driver because they are both black. My Dad is a truck driver and he agrees with me 100%.

  3. Hey E... although my dad is a college graduate, he was a blue-collar factory worker for a long time. He respects blue collar work AND feels exactly like your father.

    If I am college-educated, he expects my mate to be. He would have given me the side-eye if I brought home anything but!