Study on black marriages uses the First couple as the ‘saving grace’ for the state of black marriage within the black community. The very interesting theory suggests that people of color will begin to reinvest in the institution of marriage after having experienced the solid bond between the first lady and the Chief of Staff, President Barack Obama.
Causes for the disparaging trend could a result of a culture that prioritizes career over personal achievement, researchers Cassandra Chaney and Colita Nichols Fairfax, have been exploring another possible cause — the scarcity of black marital role models in the public eye.
To test their theory that the Obamas can change low marriage rates among blacks in the U.S., Fairfax and Chaney, an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, surveyed a small, but diverse pool of African-American adults.
Among those surveyed, 82 percent believed that the Obamas’ marriage can influence black marriage in three ways. First, by changing marital motivations and stability. “[The Obamas] are very open about their humble beginnings … so their motivations for getting together was love,” Chaney explains. “But out of that love grew similar goals in life and similar ways that they would achieve those goals.”
Second, through positive interactions, such as the PDA on display at the inauguration earlier this week. And third, by acting as a positive model for marriage (i.e. talking openly about how they run their family as a team).
“The Obamas really present something very different to black people with regards to how we understand family and community,” Fairfax said, also noting the role extended family, including Michelle’s mother, Marian Shields Robinson, plays.
“[The Obamas’ marriage] has the potential to impact all races,” the study says, noting it’s an even greater influence on younger people. “Since young voters (18-29 years of age) were the driving force behind the election of President Obama, the Obama marriage may motivate the young, many of whom have started, or are on the brink of starting, families, to adopt many of the traditional values that are foundational in black families.”