Inequalities of Love uses the personal narratives of college-educated black women to describe the difficulties they face when trying to date, marry, and have children. While conventional wisdom suggests that all women, regardless of race, must sacrifice romance and family for advanced educations and professional careers, Averil Y. Clarke’s research reveals that educated black women’s disadvantages in romance and starting a family are byproducts of a system of racial inequality and discrimination. The author analyzes descriptive accounts of black women who repeatedly return to incompatible partners as they lose hope of finding “Mr. Right” and who reject unwed parenting because it seems to affirm a negative stereotype of black women’s sexuality that is inconsistent with their personal and professional identities. Clarke also uses national survey data to compare college-educated black women to less educated black women and to white and Hispanic women with degrees. She reports that the degreed black women’s lives include less marriage, sex, and contraception, as well as more unwanted pregnancy, abortion, and unwed childbearing than those of other women. Black women’s romantic limitations matter because they constitute deprivation and constraint in romance and because they illuminate important links between race, class, and gender inequality in the United States. Clarke’s discussion of the inequities black women experience in romance highlights the connections between individuals’ sexual and reproductive decisions, their performance of professional or elite class identities, and the avoidance of racial stigma.
Family + Relationships, Social Science, Psychology