Thursday, November 29, 2007

Black women: date outside their race

This week's report called "African-American Women: Where They Stand" on NBC's Nightly News sparked a flurry of e-mails, conversations and thoughts throughout the network I share with women across the country.

The following is a sampling of the issues discussed in the NBC report:

* Finding: Forty percent of black women ages 25-34 have never been married compared to 16 percent of white women.

Result: Many black women are opting to date outside their race, with the number of interracial couples for this mix hovering at around 117,000 in the U.S. alone.

This growing trend is fueled by Internet dating, where people tend to let down their guards and try things they may not have considered before. Other women choose to date men who may not match them educationally or financially, but connect with them on a soul level. Some accept their state of singleness and make the most of it through vibrant careers, single parenting and social and religious activism.

* Finding: More than two-thirds of black college graduates are women, and at some schools they outnumber black men seven to one.

Result: Black women tend to be better educated than their male counterparts and often make more money. Professional black women are choosing to open up their own businesses and are involved in array of exciting careers their grandmothers could not have dreamed of. oIn five years, there has been a 75 percent jump in businesses owned by black women compared to a 29 percent increase for black men.

* Finding: Black women are at greater risks for certain health concerns, including breast cancer and HIV. Though incidences of breast cancer are slightly lower for black women than Caucasian women, black women tend to develop cancer at younger ages, therefore presenting medically at more advanced stages once the cancer is detected. In 2003, the rate of AIDS cases for black women was 20 times higher than Caucasian women and five times higher than Latina women due to a myriad of reasons.

Result: Our health must become a major focus immediately. Valuing our communities must become synonymous with valuing ourselves enough to attempt to prevent disease, stay healthy and deal with illness sooner.

The state of the black woman has changed from history's backseat driver to front-and-center of American society, politics and entertainment, thanks to leading women such as Oprah Winfrey and Condoleezza Rice. Because we are all connected, understanding the trends for specific groups in America is important for all of us.

Though at times I have wondered if the women of my generation have simply received a newer, more modern version of our grandmother's burdens, I know that their struggle was not in vain.

Despite the disparities and challenges still facing women like myself, I am feeling more encouraged. There are new roads leading to new destinations emerging on the landscape ahead. There is hope in the power of endurance, creativity, and amazing faith.

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