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And the educational disparity creates its own tensions.
If you are a college-educated black woman with a good job and you wish to marry a black man who is your socioeconomic equal, the odds are not good.
Why this happened is complex and furiously debated.
The era of mass imprisonment began as traditional mores were already crumbling, following the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the invention of the contraceptive pill.
Their college-educated sisters fare better, but are still affected by the sex imbalance.
Because most seek husbands of the same race—96% of married black women are married to black men—they are ultimately fishing in the same pool.
The skewed sex ratio “puts black women in an awful spot,” says Audrey Chapman, a relationship counsellor and the author of several books with titles such as “Getting Good Loving”.
For obvious reasons, convicts are excluded from the dating pool.
And many women also steer clear of ex-cons, which makes a big difference when one young black man in three can expect to be locked up at some point.
They are also more likely than white women to seek work.
One reason why so many black women strive so hard is because they do not expect to split the household bills with a male provider.
IMAGINE that the world consists of 20 men and 20 women, all of them heterosexual and in search of a mate.