What it means to be a single black woman in America

By Mia Fitzharris

In honor of Black History Month and Valentine’s Day, we interviewed two experts on the topic of single African-American women in America.

There’s a highly referenced statistic that more than half of black women are single. It comes from data from the 2009 census, which states that 70.5 percent of African-American women between the ages of 25 and 29 are unmarried. What is often not mentioned is that the same census reports that only 13 percent of women over the age of 55 are not married. This points to the fact that African-American women are getting married later in life.

Brande Victorian, the managing editor of MadameNoire, told Yahoo News and Finance Anchor Bianna Golodryga that the 70.5 percent figure “started this hysteria that black women don’t get married.” She continued, “Dating and relationships is an issue across all cultures.”

The high number of unmarried African-American women in the U.S. might be caused by a smaller dating pool. The New York Times reported that 1.5 million black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are “missing,” largely because of death or imprisonment.

However, Charreah Jackson, the lifestyle and relationships editor of Essence magazine, does not want that statistic to affect dating for African-American women. “It’s important that women not lower their standards — to know that if you do want a quality partner, that it is possible.”

On the topic of dating outside of their race, when asked in a 2014 Essence magazine survey, 53 percent of women said they were open to the idea. Jackson said, “It’s exciting to see the many ways we are exploring.”

The bottom line is that black women are more than their martial status. Victorian said, “We’re the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs. … We’ve always had a history of being self-reliant and self-efficient, and those things aren’t talked about because it’s a focus still for a lot of women that being married is the ultimate achievement, and that’s not the case. That’s not how black women are operating anymore.”