By Grace: The Challenges, Strengths, and Promise of African American Marriages

Aug 15, 2014

byGraceFrom the highly visible partnership of Barack and Michelle Obama to the much-discussed book Is Marriage for White People?, the state of African American marriage has garnered much attention in recent years. Few would argue that there aren’t unique challenges to African American marriages, but the strengths and promise of African American marriage are left unexplored in the media and literature. Creating a discourse that highlights the good and acknowledges the challenges from both historical and contemporary contexts is important to providing a more complete picture of marriage in the African American community.

To address this need, Tricia B. Bent-Goodley has gathered several essays on African American marriage together in the book By Grace: The Challenges, Strengths, and Promise of African American Marriages, now published by NASW Press. By Grace examines contemporary and historical issues that have affected black marriages, relationships, and families. Ten chapters explore various aspects of African American marriage:

  1. African American Marriages at the Intersection: Challenges, Strengths, and Resilience, by Tricia B. Bent-Goodley
  2. African American Marriage and Economics, by Tricia B. Bent-Goodley and Berenecea Johnson-Eanes
  3. Social Policy and Black Marriage, by Cassandra Chaney
  4. Race, Marital Status, and Mental Illness, by King E. Davis and Hyejin Jung
  5. How Health Affects African American Marriages, by Michele A. Rountree and Rebecca Larsen
  6. African American Marriage and Caregiving through the Life Span, by Iris Carlton-LaNey and Blenda Crayton
  7. African American Women and Marriage, by Colita Nichols Fairfax and Tricia B. Bent-Goodley
  8. Black Masculinity, Manhood, and Marriage, by Waldo E. Johnson, Jr.
  9. Marriage Diversity in the African American Community, by Noelle M. St. Vil, Christopher St. ViI, and Waldo E. Johnson, Jr.
  10. African American Marriage Interventions: Strengthening the Social Work Response, by Tricia B. Bent-Goodley

The chapters explore major topics as they relate to African American marriages, including economics, caregiving across the life span, mental illness, health, gender roles and relationships, and social policy.

“From the enslavement of African people to Jim Crow, to the persistence of institutionalized injustice, racism, and oppression, there are real barriers that continue to affect the inner workings of African American relationships,” writes Bent-Goodley. “Still, despite the challenges African American marriages have thrived and continue to serve as an anchor in the black community. Acknowledging the intersection of challenges that affect these marriages while identifying the strengths that allow them to transcend obstacles allows us to better understand the opportunities or the promise that lay ahead.”

By Grace highlights the strengths and resilience of African American relationships. The book is written for diverse professional and community audiences. It can be used by couples to explore some of the challenges they experience in their marriages to support healthy relationship building. The book also serves as a resource and provides practical approaches for practitioners.