I’ll give you a short answer.
Marriage helps the Black community if the union is between two (or more; yeah, that’s right Poly marriages count to) Conscious, Committed, and Pan-African people who are committed to the full and total liberation of African people, which is what my (imperfect, but purpose-based, loving, and productive) marriage is all about.
Marriage is irrelevant to the Black community if the union is between two (or more) Black people who are (willfully) ignorant of their standing and our larger struggle, and they only seek to live the life laid before them by this System; if they only want to secure the American Dream, if they on some Huxtable shit (which is the vast majority of Black families), then their marriage don’t recall count for shit politically, culturally, or historically. (Yeah I said it, just read E. Franklyn Frazier and Carter G. Woodson before you start ranting about how I’m dissing Black folks “who iz tryna mek it in dis wurrl.”)
Marriage is harmful to the Black community if the union is between two Black people who’ve come together to join forces with the oppressor and make themselves personally wealthy at the expense of the Black Race and all the other oppressed and exploited peoples of the world; if they on some ole Obamas or Jay and Bey type shit.
So, if you are still reading, here’s my long answer;
What we are dealing with is the fallacy of “false cause,” and “false attribution.”
People assert; “shit was better in the Black community when we had majority 2-parent households; therefore marriage makes the Black community better.” That is some Bullshit.
The reason I really hate this fallacy is because the Black Puritans who talk this Bullshit use such fallacies to shame Black single-mothers, and poor Black people. They attribute high crime rates, mass incarceration, and overall dysfunction on single-mothers, poor Blacks, and the “lack of morals,” in the Black community. That’s all Bullshit.
Now, marriage is an issue with a deep and multilayered history than I can’t really do justice here because this just isn’t the medium for deep historical analysis; but I’ll do what I can, but you’ll have to forgive the holes and gaps in my answer, which I’m sure New Negros and Black Puritans will jump though in their Reactionary Reactions to what I’m saying.
Marriage is an evolving social construct, there is nothing inherently moral, good, or even beneficial in marriage, nothing. Also, marriage is tied to the larger social and economic conditions and structures of the society; so unjust societies produce unjust social relations of which marriage is one. So the husband is abused and exploited by the boss, he goes home and abused his wife, the wife abuses the children, the children abuse the dog. I call this Compounding Exploitation, where everyone in a system of exploitation is driven to exploit the next group/class/Race/person below them on the social hierarchy.
So, marriage in the US has never been what the romantic novels, or the cute little romantic movies and sitcoms have portrayed it to be; it has been another oppressive institution. Historian Howard Zinn called marriage “intimate oppression,” and those who suffered and were exploited in marriage “the intimately oppressed.”
From the White Plantation Mistress in the big house who suffered under the Plantation Master’s hand, to the Black housewife married to the dejected factory worker in the 1960s, to the affluent career woman married to the striving professional today; most of they shit is saturated with dysfunction, exploitation, and dissatisfaction; it’s just the rich and middle-classes are able to bury their dysfunction under their money and success, and the dysfunction of the poor is on display in the Hood and in the corporate media. This is also tied to the fact that the US consumes the majority of the worlds psychotropic drugs and illegal drugs to escape the dissatisfying, “soul shattering” reality that Consumerism and Capitalism have imposed on us in the First World.
The bottom line is, until justice is brought to the overall society, then it’s institutions will also be unjust and dysfunctional.
It’s actually a rational response for women, Black or otherwise to seek to go it alone; because you can either organize to destroy oppressive institutions, or you can try to escape them; and the evolving post-industrial economy in the US has offered women the escape of marriage but had denied them the structures to organize to end oppression overall. Men resent women taking this minor escape option, but instead of changing their behavior and attitudes towards women and marriage, they just blame women for “destroying the Black family.” They prefer to blame and fight Black women then confront the Global (White) Elites who are really behind the disintegration of our communities.
The breakdown in marriage and two parent households in the Black community had nothing to do with the falling morals of Black people, or with Black men wanting to abandon their children, or Black women being so disagreeable that the Black man was forced to flee the home. That’s all Bullshit.
The truth is, when we were marrying each other, or not; we remained under the oppression and control of our enemies, and they dictate to us and control us by maintaining the control of the resources and institutions that we depend on to live, learn, and express ourselves. So Whites can create incentives for us to marry and create stable homes; like they did when they needed us to provide low-skilled labor for their industries. Or Whites can destroy the Black family and disperse us; like they do now since they no longer need our low-skilled labor because they have shipped their industries overseas, or they have fully mechanized them.
Whites have been controlling and manipulating the Black family since we arrived here, they would break up Black families by selling off children from their mothers, or husbands off from wives during chattel slavery. They have done so by creating incentives for marriage in government tax policy, and public loan policies that rewarded married couples. They have done so by providing the Black community with an abundance of jobs with living wages. They have do so by taking away those jobs and using the CIA to flood our communities with drugs and guns. They have done so through the manipulation of the Black image and the contamination of our culture and cultural products like Hip Hop.
Through it all, we have worked like hell to sustain ourselves as a people. On the plantation we’d pick up the slack; if Massa sold off the children, the women on the new plantation would adopt and nurture those children as best they could. During Jim Crow, when a man was lynched the women would offer what little extras they had to the widow until she found a new husband, or got back on her feet. During the time of Black Migration, families who came first would help new families moving North to get established, while those remaining behind in the South would keep children, tend the land, and provide a foundation for those seeking a better life in the North. During the era of deindustrialization and the Ghettoization of Black communities we’d form (formal and informal) networks of single mothers to aid each other during the CIA’s and FBI’s COINTELPRO onslaught to destroy the militancy and self-determination of the entire Black community. Today we are dealing with the fallout of having our Revolution subverted in the 1970s, and the mid-stage of genocide which is mass incarceration and mass media demonization . Though it all we’ve compensated, we’ve made the adjustments; and though it all the New Negro Elites, who refuse to help us join the Whites in tearing us down and blaming us for shit we didn’t have nothing to do with. They blamed Harriet Tubman for “mekin trubbel on de pantation,” they blame single mother’s today for “destroying the Black family;” these fucking New Negros been attributing false cause and offering empty solutions since the first fucking day we got here. So fuck them and their morality.
You have to understand, that until we are liberated, it don’t really fucking matter if you single, married, or if you have a nuclear family, or several baby mommas or baby daddies; oppression is oppression and a married slave is no freer than a single one. A Ni99er with a college degree and a marriage license is still a Ni99er when those police lights flash behind them (trust me, I know cuz I have college degrees and a marriage license).
So the only thing that helps the Black community is a Radical understanding of our conditions and a commitment to Revolutionary transformation of our conditions. That’s it. Marriage or no marriage.
Who the was Harriet Tubman married to? Who was Amos N. Wilson married to? Garvey had more than one marriage. Fanon and Diop were married to White women. Khalid Muhammad had a divorce. Malcolm X had a successful and traditional marriage (until the NOI, with the aid of the FBI murdered him). So the fuck what? Were they able to make positive contributions to the just aspirations of their people, regardless of their marital status? Yes, they were.
We need to put the focus and energy on what really matters; the lives and liberation off all our people, single or married are what matters. No matter how someone structures their family, or how their attempts to structure their families play out, they have value.
Side Note: If not for single mothers, Hood Rats, Thots, etc. the fucking genocide committed against our people would be further along than it is; so fuck people who diss the poor for having children (they can’t afford), or these young single mothers; they are fucking bullies. Often times the very segments of the Black community on the frontlines slowing the genocide while feeling the full brunt of the oppression and Racism of this System get the blame for causing it, that’s fucked up.