31% of black Gastonia households are headed by a single parent (compared to 13% of white families). Despite the fact that many women celebrate being single by choice, the media portrays black women living without partners as a character defect and one of the reasons the black community is failing.
I am single because I left my husband in 2014, shortly after we moved from Indiana to Gastonia, NC. When my daughter asks why we don’t live together anymore, I tell her that I could not live with him in a healthy way. And it’s true, my mental health has improved now that we’re apart. And while I don’t plan on finding a live-in partner or marrying again, I do have relationships that meet my needs.
My mother lived alone with my sister and me, though our father was always around and contributed to our lives. My grandmothers were functionally single by virtue of having absent and/or alcoholic spouses. They set the example for me, and I lean on family and friends for support. That’s more a sign of the strength of community than an individual weakness.
Because of my experience with marriage and divorce, I would never tell a woman to pursue a partner just to meet outside approval. Black men and women are disproportionately incarcerated, homeless, and unemployed. Children growing up in disadvantaged homes often do not learn how to relate in healthy ways. Instead of creating a stable home environment, a union of two unhealthy people perpetuates damage from one generation to another. The intervention (singlehood) is punished by the government instead of rewarded with childcare, mental healthcare, and economic opportunity. (Ask any single mother what they need more of, and the answer would be money.)
Finally, some food for thought. Black single mothers have existed since slavery, when often the fathers were not black men who abandoned their duties, but white men who saw their offspring as property: The Men Who Left Were White.