Recently, I was at a restaurant with a group of friends eating some great food. I was chowing down on some barbecue chicken pizza, and the only thing at the table that was better than that was the conversation of both old and new friends.
There were many topics of conversation, one of which was the employment of teen-age Blacks. There was no short supply of opinions, but I quickly realized that there was a short supply of parents. Only two people at the table had any children.
Everyone in our group liked children and certainly everyone in our group could afford children. We were a successful mix of business people, professionals, intellectuals and a person that had achieved much in entertainment. And yet between eight people we had two children. The thing that is so striking about this is that similar experiences have happened to me before. More and more I'm finding myself in social situations where having one kid or no kids is the norm.
How can we say that we are making the world a better place for future generations if we are producing a shrinking generation? In 1970 we were 11.1 percent of the population, in 1980 11.7 percent. In 1990 the Black population made another healthy gain coming in at 12.1 percent. But in 2000 Black America barely nudged an increase with 12.3 percent.
What's even scarier to me is what happens if the new generation reproduces in the same way. After all don't children learn by example? We have entered a period where many people consider a three-child family to be a large family. For us to continue to be fruitful and multiply, we must change our new way of looking at family, marriage, career and education — yes, I said education. Indeed, education is the key to a new life; education is also the key to a new life partner.
Going to college and meeting a mate used to go hand-in-hand. In today's world the emphasis is on education, career and then family. But the biological clock stays the same. I should make it quite clear that I am in no way knocking education. My grandmother enrolled in Philander Smith College 100 years ago and college education continues down to her great grandchildren. What I am saying is meeting a future spouse in college should be considered as a viable option.
Marriage doesn't have to happen in college; it can happen after both people finish. I'm just saying that it is an option that can happen before a career is fully established.
In 1960, the average age of a man getting married was 22.8 years, 20.3 for a woman. In 2000, the average age of a man getting married was 26.9 and 25.1 for a woman.
It's almost always possible to start a career after a family, but starting a family after a career often becomes a dream deferred.
Samuel Justiss Vance is a columnist for www.BlackNews.com.