- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 29, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

If you are black and love someone - or hope to love someone - who is black, this meeting was for you. “We were better off finding a partner during the slavery period,” Audrey Chapman told the standing-room-only crowd at the “Single Women, Unmarried Men: What Has Happened to Marriage in the Black Community?” session at the Congressional Black Caucus conference last week.

Marriage is good for people, said Ms. Chapman, an author, licensed family therapist and host of “The Audrey Chapman Show” on WHUR 96.3 FM.

On average, marriage means two incomes, even if one is smaller than the other, she said. Marriage means the father is in the home, which is good for the kids. Marriage means men are healthy because their wives “have a vested interest” in keeping them in tiptop shape.

And yet, statistics about the black family tell a stark story. Although for generations the vast majority of black children were raised by their two parents, this measure dipped as low as 35 percent in 2004 and today is about 40 percent.

Nearly 44 percent of black men are “never married,” which is higher than Hispanic men (40 percent), Asian men (33.4 percent) and white men (27.4 percent), said Ms. Chapman.

She asked the crowd, “Why is that?”

When the mostly female audience yelled back “prison” or “unemployed,” Ms. Chapman was ready.

That’s not the whole story, she said. There are many, many black men with a professional degree, title, office, suit, tie and a BlackBerry. They just don’t have a wife, she said. Why is that? Taking a deep breath and looking straight at the women, Ms. Chapman said it begins with them.

“I always start my [radio] show with the same question, ‘How’s your relationship with yourself? ” she said. “If you are in a funky place with yourself” - you are unreliable, you are inconsistent with your own values - if you are unhealthy and not taking care of your body, your mind, praying, then you can’t make the good decisions,” she said. “You draw from where you are.”

Secondly, besides getting ones own house in order, black women have got to be willing to heal themselves and let go of their baggage, “whatever it is.” “We all got it,” the divorced counselor added.

Another step is to face the biggest reason black women - especially ones with high education, money and status - are at high risk for going through life alone: their attitude.

Without even realizing it, Ms. Chapman said, black women can adopt attitudes that chase away the very love and happiness they seek.

Contempt for men (“all brothers are dogs”) is an example, she said in her book, “Seven Attitude Adjustments for Finding a Loving Man.” Rage (“the last man hurt me, so you better watch out”) is another. Materialism or superiority (“No masters degree? Get lost”) is yet another.

Other relationship-crushing attitudes are trying to dominate the relationships and/or the man, be a smother-mother with the man, or talk or behave in a way that reflects desperation.

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