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Meet Ralph Richard Banks.
Banks is the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law at Stanford Law School. He’s also the co-founder and faculty director of the Stanford Center for Racial Justice. Banks is also a Black man who appears to believe Black women are better off marrying white men because, in his opinion, white men are their path to optimizing their success.
Banks recently penned an op-ed piece for the New York Post titled, “Why More Black Women Should Consider Marrying White Men.”
“Two of the most powerful positions in the United States government will soon be held—for the first time—by black women: Kamala Harris and Ketanji Brown-Jackson,” Banks wrote. “Harris, as we all know, is the vice president of the United States and Brown-Jackson could soon become a Supreme Court justice.
“But Harris and Brown-Jackson also share a personal attribute that is equally noteworthy: Each has a white husband,” he continued.
Banks went on to say, “This fact is significant,” in reference to Jackson’s and Harris’ marriages to Caucasian men, but he doesn’t really explain why it’s significant in those marriages in particular.
After all, Jackson doesn’t attribute her success to her white husband. She seems to love him and is very appreciative of his support, but where is Banks getting it from that he has anything to do with her nomination to the Supreme Court, or her being in the legal field at all for that matter? In fact, Jackson attributes her very interest in the legal field to her Black father who is an attorney.
It’s also worth noting that, not only is a white man not responsible for her success, but it has been white men who have been pulling out every racist trope in the book of veiled white supremacy in opposing her during her confirmation hearings.
But OK, whatever—Banks’ overall point appears to go beyond Jackson and Harris. I just thought it was intellectually lazy for him to cite them as examples when there are plenty of well-known and successful Black women who are married to Black men. (Michelle Obama, anyone?) It just seems really pointless to be that anecdotal in the premise of a message that is meant blanketly. But Banks does go on to make statistical arguments.
From the Post:
According to Brookings Institute data, black men are less likely than black women to have completed high school and 50 percent less likely to have attained a four-year college degree. Yet despite the shortage of suitable black partners, black women have also been the least likely of any minority group to marry outside of their race, according to data from the Pew Research Center.
Rather than partner with men of other races, many heterosexual black women either don’t marry or marry black men with whom they are not especially well matched. And these mismatched relationships contribute to African Americans having the highest divorce rate of any racial group (in fact, black women are the only demographic to have a higher divorce rate than marriage rate).
While Banks does passively attribute these statistics to systemic racism, it’s still telling that he has reduced suitability to financial and formal education status and has concluded that these are “mismatched relationships” based solely on that assessment.
Banks also talked about a book he wrote entitled Is Marriage for White People? (For a so-called racial justice advocate, he sure does seem to be obsessed with white partner superiority, doesn’t he?) He “explained in the book why black women should not be pressured to sacrifice their own chances for happiness out of some misplaced loyalty to black men.”
“Nor should black women feel beholden to black men under the guise of advancing the race,” he continued. “If the price of racial solidarity is a bad intimate relationship, then the cost is too high. Black women should not be held hostage to the struggles of black men.”
My thing is, Banks doesn’t seem to have a very high opinion of Black men or Black women.
Do Black women not have the agency to make decisions for themselves? Has Banks considered the possibility that for various reasons that don’t include “misplaced loyalty” or “advancing the race,” Black women just prefer to be with Black men? Maybe they just prefer a partner that shares a cultural common ground with them. Maybe it’s not about “advancing the race,” but more about Black family traditions, culture, and cultural understanding being important to Black women. After all, the same research that shows “black women have been the least likely of any minority group to marry outside of their race” also shows that the strong majority of marriages are intraracial and that, despite Black men being twice as likely to marry outside of their race, the vast majority of Black men still marry Black women.
Now, look: If Banks’ overall message is that more Black women should expand their dating/marriage parameters to include non-Black men to have higher chances of a successful marriage, I don’t necessarily disagree with that. There are certainly Black women who would agree and those women should do what they want. My problem is him jumping to the conclusion that he knows more about what Black women want and need than they do. To insinuate that Black women’s dating practices are a result of them feeling like hostages to Blackness rather than Blackness simply being important to them is condescending and anti-Black AF.
Another problem I have with Banks’ op-ed is this: Why is he defaulting to white men?
In the article, Banks doesn’t suggest Black women open themselves up to marrying Asian men, South Asian men, or men of any other non-Black race—just white men. These are the men who are least likely to believe racism is still a problem in America and most likely to oppose racial justice efforts. So, why them specifically?
So, obviously, my opinion is that Banks, for the most part, is on some self-loathing simple sambo sh**, but what do y’all think?