Why black women can’t afford to be shamed for being single

Earlier this year, I was reading Health First! The Black Woman’s Wellness Guide and these figures gave me pause.

2010 Census Figures for Marital Status among Black Women in America

7,492, 890 Never Married
4,170,470 Married
792,263 Separated
1,422,370 Widowed
2,173,815 Divorced

53 percent of American women are married and living with their spouses, compared to 44 percent of Black women, who are more likely to be single heads of household. Single mothers of color are more likely to be poor than any other women.

…the average Black single mother has no assets; she has a median net worth of zero dollars, compared to $6,000 for a White single mom.

So, basically, it’s already expensive enough being a black woman & we don’t amass any more wealth when you add shaming to the mix:

“Lifting as we Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America’s Future,” also found that nearly half of all single black women have zero or negative wealth, meaning their debts exceed all their assets; one-fourth of single black women have no checking or savings account; and only 33 percent of African American single women are homeowners. Mariko Chang, independent consultant and author of “Shortchanged: Why Women Have Less Wealth and What Can Be Done About It,” notes that the legacy of the racial wealth gap is largely to blame for the discrepancy.

“So much of the racial wealth gap that occurred in our history is still really alive,” Chang said. “Because of both discrimination and a gender pay gap, black women, in particular, lack a lot of the traditional wealth safety nets that other groups have access to. Because of their lower earnings, and also because of the types of jobs they have – service jobs, for instance – they’re less likely to have fringe benefits, retirement accounts, paid vacation days. If they face unemployment, illness or any kind of negative economic shock, they just don’t have that cushion.”

I would like it very much if we lived in a post-racial, post-racist society, but unfortunately, the racial and class disparities that affect me as a black woman interfere with my ability to “just get married” to solve my financial problems — even if I were the kind of woman to marry for money, which I’m not.

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