Saturday, March 19, 2011

Misleading Statistics About Black Women

We have all heard the misleading statistics about Black women that the media has been feasting on for the past few years. I have only heard these statistics for African American women (I'm Canadian) and I don't even know if studies like this exist in Canada (I'll have to look around). Here are some widely spread statistics and why reporting them is VERY misleading.

  • 70% of Black women are single: This statistic has been awful for Black women and has started a finger-pointing war between Black men and women trying to explain the cause. The problem with this statistic is that it includes lesbian women who often can not get married, common-law relationships, women with boyfriends, women who are engaged, women who are divorced, women who are widowed, and women who do not want to be married right now! It is highly inflated! The media has spun this into a PROBLEM with Black women, Black men, and the Black community that requires individuals to change. It has caused widespread criticism of Black women who focused on their careers and degrees causing them to panic that they will never be married. This Oprah Video focuses on why women are single not the validity of the statistic and was a bad move on Oprah's part! Here is a Great Video Critique of this statistic(warning foul language).
  • 42% of Black women have never been married compared to 23% of White women: 42% unmarried is better than the 70% single statistic, but the way it has been reported is just as problematic (for instance in this Nightline Report and B-NET). First of all, they only report the statistic when compared to White women! If they were honest they would also report that 41% of Black men have never been married and Black women tend to marry Black men! Based on this it just seems Black people deciding to stay unmarried. Instead, the media has focused on the unavailability of Black men who are the equals to successful Black women (and they never forget to report their unemployment rates, incarceration rates, and high school drop out rates). On the other hand, Black men have focused on criticizing Black women for their independence, dating standards, femininity, weight, hair, and attitude and all the reasons why they think other races of women are better. Watch this Great Video Commentary about this statistic (warning there is foul language).
    • Why doesn't the media report how many of those White marriages were young, starter marriages that have ended in divorce? Is it better to rush into a marriage that is uncertain or wait until an older age when one's life is more stable? What about reporting how many times White women marry compared to Black women? That could show White women tend to marry younger and multiple times (like Elizabeth Taylor) while Black women wait and only have to marry once or twice. Does the number of times you marry really show how desirable you are or do these women just demand it more or find men who rush into things the same way they do?
  • 70% of African American children are born our of wedlock: The biggest problem with this statistic is that people have used it as a criticism of single mothers (read this critique from The Atlantic and P.a.p.-Blog). The statistic does not explain if many of these babies are born to TWO loving parents who just happen to not be married. If you look at the 42% statistic above that shows Black couples are not getting married, then the babies they have will be out of wedlock. But this doesn't mean the father is not around, the mother was irresponsible, or the baby wasn't planned! Married Black women are also having fewer kids and this inflates the statistic. This statistic is problematic because it is a snapshot in time. It does not account for the many couples who get pregnant and decide to have a wedding after the birth (often when the woman is happier with her weight). White couples tend to marry more, fewer of their children are born out of wedlock, and maybe more of them rush to marry before the baby is born. This is not to say that there are some Black men who are not caring for their children, but this statistic does not identify the role of the father in the child's life. BlackVoices uses this to point at unwed Black mothers and reports some disturbing statistics (but I think they can all be explained by poverty and they are also misleading) and BNET provides opinion about American absentee fathers.
  • Black women are the least desirable on online dating sites: This ridiculous finding has been reported but it is based on OkCupid, one online site, where 74% of the members are White! So if you join this site, you are likely looking for a White partner. If you wanted someone Black you would go to a Black dating site! This article from the Freakonomics Webiste (where they should know better) and ReadWriteWeb repeat the mantra that Black women can't find a partner. Read THIS ARTICLE for an interesting analysis of the data that changes the results. Furthermore, there is no objective rating of the actual attractiveness of the profiles. It could just be that the Black women on OKCupid are not physically attractive or their profiles are bad, but you can not generalize that ALL Black women are unattractive! It also doesn't mention how quickly members respond because maybe Black women take their time. Asian and White girls may respond quickly and frequently send flirty messages while Black women do not. Maybe men only send messages to women they think they can actually get and I have heard even average White men have no problem attracting Asian women but I have not heard the same for Black women. But above all this, no one ASKED the members why they chose to respond to some people over others because that is the only way you will know if it was due to attractiveness and not something else. You can not generalize the attractiveness of millions of Black women based on ONE online dating site were most members are White!
I hope that after reading this post some Black women feel better about themselves and have a more discerning eye when it comes to these statistics. The media is not a friend to Black women or Black people in general and they love to make us look bad. They will stop reporting things like this if we stop reading these articles and commenting on them! 


  1. O my gosh I wanted to write the exact same article and I'm with you 100%, what is with the media obsession of painting a bad image of black women and where the hell are these "statistics" being pulled from? E.V.E.R.Y. week, black women this, black women that, can black women do anything right. We need to take a stand against the slander of our good name! Love the article! I have a blog at would you be interested in appearing as a guest blogger and sharing this post on my site also? Let me know!

  2. I am so glad that you guys took those statistics head on and demonstrated how flawed they are. I was just telling me sister that I know just as many black men that are single than I do black women. As a matter of fact, I know more single black men than I do single black women.

  3. Mind if I refer you to a different article? I found it very interesting, especially after reading your comments.

  4. Thank you for this post. It illuminates the games played with statistics.

    As Mark Twain said "There are lies, damn lies and then statistics."