No Strings Attached

Why Some Black College Graduates Are Saying “I Do” to Themselves

 

Picture this: you’re a highly educated, ambitious Black millennial, the archetype of success in your community. You’ve climbed the academic ladder, soared in your career, and carved out a satisfying existence. Yet, at family gatherings, a familiar whisper echoes (wait for it!), “Still single? When are you settling down?” In a world where marital status often dominates social narratives, many Black college graduates are boldly rewriting this script, choosing self-fulfillment over societal expectations.

From “Should” to “Could”: Unpacking the Marriage Narrative

Traditionally, the American Dream for many Black families included educational achievement, culminating in marriage and children, epitomized by the Huxtables of “The Cosby Show.” But as Stephanie J. Shaw, Ph.D., author of Marriage and Family Among African Americans, observes, today’s Black college graduates are navigating a transformed landscape. Rising student loan debt, economic disparities, and a shift in societal roles, particularly for women, have reshaped priorities, often placing marriage on the back burner.

Exploring Choices and Realities

Robyn Lewis. Ph.D., in her book Single by Chance, Single by Choice, sheds light on the diversity within the Black college-educated singles population. From those cherishing independence to others navigating life’s unexpected turns, these individuals defy stereotypes, each with a unique story. As Christians, we’re reminded in Proverbs 16:9, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” This verse speaks to the diverse paths our lives can take, underlining that success and fulfillment are not one-dimensional.

A Life Beyond the Rose-Petaled Aisle

Many Black graduates find joy and purpose beyond traditional marital roles. They’re entrepreneurs, world travelers, community pillars, and more. Their lives resonate with the biblical truth of Romans 12:2, which encourages not conforming to the world but being transformed by renewing one’s mind. These individuals epitomize the courage to live authentically, challenging societal norms and embracing their unique journeys.

Finding Support and Understanding

Facing societal pressures and expectations about marriage is an ongoing challenge. Creating supportive communities and fostering open dialogue is crucial. We need to understand that our value isn’t tied to marital status. 1 Peter 3:4 emphasizes the inner beauty and worth in God’s eyes, a reminder that our choices, single or married, are valid and purposeful.

Maxine Claxton, a Christian author, eloquently states:

“Singleness is not a waiting room for marriage. It is a spacious place to discover your passions, gifts, and purpose.”

This perspective is seconded by Jennie Allen:

“True fulfillment comes from knowing God intimately and living out his purpose for your life, whether single or married.”

Embracing the “I Do” to Oneself

Black college graduates today are defining their own success stories. Whether choosing marriage or embracing singleness, each journey is about personal fulfillment and self-love. Their paths, diverse and rich, remind us that happiness is not a one-size-fits-all formula. Each story, each choice, deserves celebration and respect.

Facing the Stereotypes

Navigating life as a single Black college graduate often means confronting persistent stereotypes. The image of the “successful Black man” or “strong Black woman” often includes marriage and children, perpetuating the idea that singleness signifies a lack of achievement. However, these narratives fail to capture the diverse realities and motivations behind choosing a single life.

Unpacking Personal Choices

Some Black college graduates prioritize career advancement, building businesses, or pursuing creative passions that flourish during periods of focused dedication. Singlehood becomes a springboard for self-discovery, fostering independence and personal growth. Idia Amin, Ph.D., sociologist and author of Beyond Marriage: The Diverse Experiences of Single Black Women, highlights the value of singleness in nurturing personal ambitions: “Many women find that being single allows them to prioritize their goals and dreams without the added complexity of navigating a partnership.”

Facing unsolicited questions and societal pressures can be isolating. Creating supportive networks is crucial. Engaging with other single Black professionals, either online or through community groups (as I have mentioned in a previous article), fosters a sense of belonging and understanding. Sharing experiences, challenges, and triumphs within these spaces validates individual choices and provides valuable social support.

Finding Purpose in Singleness

Singleness doesn’t negate the desire for connection and purpose. Many Black college graduates intentionally direct their energy into meaningful pursuits beyond romantic relationships. Volunteering in their communities, mentoring young people, or actively participating in faith-based organizations fulfills a deep desire to contribute and make a positive impact.

Challenging the Narrative

Breaking free from societal expectations requires courage and self-confidence. Openly communicating desired life choices with families and friends can foster understanding and respect. Educating loved ones about the diverse reasons behind choosing singleness and challenging ingrained stereotypes can help shift the conversation toward celebration and support.

Beyond Comparison

Ultimately, embracing your journey as a single Black college graduate means understanding that your worth isn’t defined by marital status. As Galatians 5:1 reminds us, “Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” This freedom extends to defining your own version of success and happiness, regardless of societal expectations.

Celebrating Each Chapter

Celebrating the diverse achievements and fulfilling lives of single Black college graduate is crucial. From entrepreneurs launching groundbreaking businesses to artists enriching the cultural landscape, their contributions deserve recognition and applause. Their journeys represent a vibrancy of possibilities, challenging tiny little definitions of success and inspiring others to embrace their unique paths.

Your value isn’t a reflection of your relationship status. Rather, it’s a manifestation of your resilience, ambition, and individuality. Embrace your journey, celebrate your accomplishments, and know that God has a unique and fulfilling plan unfolding in your life, single or not.

That’s my word! As always, we’re in this together! Keep it pure, keep it a buck, and stay true to your values. We’re in this together!

 

 

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