A model for marriage

  • Follow Metro

As a child, the fictional Huxtable family on prime time television left an impression on Trenesseya Hobbs.

"I remember thinking I want that when I grow up," she said. "That's the kind of life I want for my kids."

The Thomson woman grew up in a home broken by divorce, and she vowed to avoid the same fate. Now 24, Ms. Hobbs is preparing for her May nuptials with fiance Barry Whitfield Jr., and she has found a new real-life family on which to model her life and marriage: The Obamas.

"They show a real African-American family," Ms. Hobbs said. "She stuck by him, and that breaks away from the stereotype that's out there. I can learn so much from their strength."

President-elect Obama and his wife, Michelle, have been lauded for their loving relationship and how they're raising their two young daughters. Both Ms. Hobbs and Mr. Whitfield agree the incoming First Family could change the perception of marriage in the black community and possibly increase the number of black couples who wed.

"People will do what they see a lot of the time," Mr. Whitfield, 23, said. "For people to see the Obamas, that shows we can have marriage, we can have family, we can have love."

Blacks have the lowest percentage of marriage among men and women in the 20-to-39 age group at 35.5 percent, according to a 2007 U.S. Census Bureau survey. Asians have the highest percentage, with 56.5 percent, followed by whites at 48 percent and Hispanics at nearly 47 percent.

The disparity has more to do with class than race, said Maryann Reid, the author of Marry Your Baby Daddy .

"Those in low-income communities and everyday working class people see it as an elitist type of thing," Ms. Reid said. "I think the Obamas may motivate young couples to achieve more, but a lot of them need to see more role models in their communities at the cafe, on the bus and in the neighborhood."

In 2005, Ms. Reid started Marry Your Baby Daddy Day, an event that invites unmarried couples to take part in a mass wedding in New York City. Many of the 25 couples who have married through the event said financial instability was the main reason they did not marry sooner, Ms. Reid said.

A lack of job security in lower-income communities has been a big deterrent for some black couples who want to tie the knot, said Stephanie Coontz, the director of research at the Council on Contemporary Families in Chicago.

The key role the Obamas can play beyond providing a positive example is helping to find solutions to the problems plaguing lower-income blacks, Ms. Coontz said.

"They show a great model of how we can be happy and equal in a relationship," she said. "The best part is Michelle and Barack want to work on the problems of working-class families. They know it's harder in real life than the Cosbys made it seem."

Michael and Brenda Walden would agree. They've been married for 19 years, have four children and credit their Christian faith and strong family ties for keeping them together. Though the Cosbys offered a positive portrayal of a married black couple, that is often the exception rather than the norm.

"Now, Hollywood just shows black families as dysfunctional and unhappy," Mr. Walden said.

They said the Obamas could go a long way in changing that image.

"You can find Mr. or Mrs. Right, and Obama shows that you can come from the lowest point and reach the top position all while having a happy marriage," Mr. Walden said.

The Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act of 2006, a bill Mr. Obama sponsored while in the Senate, represents the change needed to facilitate more black marriages, said Joe Jones, the president of the Center for Urban Families, an organization that provides work force and parenting development for low-income parents in Baltimore. The bill supports funding grants for programs geared toward employment services for parents, financial literacy, promoting healthy relationships and other key issues that affect low-income parents.

Mr. Jones' hope is that the goals presented in the act will come to fruition so more black couples can experience the marital bliss of the soon-to-be First Family.

"We can't just limit it to one role model. There has to be programs that support seeing this happen more often," Mr. Jones said. "It is nice to have the symbolism. It's a whole different visual of what's possible."

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (75) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
SargentMidTown
8
Points
SargentMidTown 12/14/08 - 01:48 am
0
0
Get marrie and mess with my

Get marrie and mess with my welfare check...hell naw

marriagetweets
0
Points
marriagetweets 12/14/08 - 04:18 am
0
0
The Responsible Fatherhood

The Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act of 2006 he sponsored while in the Senate and what he said in his book:

“…Finally, preliminary research shows that marriage education workshops can make a real difference in helping married couples stay together and in encouraging unmarried couples who are living together to form a more lasting bond. Expanding access to such services to low income couples, perhaps in concert with job training and placement, medical coverage, and other services already available, should be something everybody can agree on…”

Barack Obama, Audacity of Hope, 2006, p.334

I hope the benefits of marriage education classed is "something everybody can agree on" as he points out.

Check out more at: www.marriagetweets.com

sctex
1
Points
sctex 12/14/08 - 05:00 am
0
0
Keep the change.

Keep the change.

patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 12/14/08 - 05:47 am
0
0
It would be nice if the

It would be nice if the Obama's had the type of influence on the black community mentioned in this article. The black family has been destroyed (from the early '60's) by replacing the male in the family with a government check. The original intent was to buy the black vote, but the unintended consequence has given America 3 generations of fatherless children that have played a major part in the percentage of crimes committed in the nation. Let's hope the Obama's can turn around this serious mistake by the Dem party. Personal responsibility to replace the government check would be change I could believe in.

dasgaslo
0
Points
dasgaslo 12/14/08 - 07:25 am
0
0
Pat, you are right on. I

Pat, you are right on. I agree with most of your postings....

DodgeD50
0
Points
DodgeD50 12/14/08 - 07:33 am
0
0
I'll keep my guns, freedom

I'll keep my guns, freedom and money, you can keep your "change"

zambu_glenlivet
0
Points
zambu_glenlivet 12/14/08 - 07:59 am
0
0
Where'd you here that one,

Where'd you here that one, Dodge? Just couldn't wait to post it somewhere so someone might think you are witty...instead of a Dimwit!!! Here's one I made up myself...Obama, My President...and YOURS!!!! LOL

christian134
1
Points
christian134 12/14/08 - 08:22 am
0
0
Actually trying to live as

Actually trying to live as responsible human beings instead of looking to Government as The Daddy figure would go further to rebuilding the family unit...Been wanting to say this for a long time now to those who feel it is their duty in life to procreate in order to pad their pocketbooks as well as those "daddy" persons who seek to have as many babies as possible to prove their virility..."Stand up straight for heaven's sake. Stop being the stuff that grows under the scum of the pond. Have some pride and grab a dose of morals while your at it."..

aaa
2
Points
aaa 12/14/08 - 08:25 am
0
0
With Obama as President,

With Obama as President, we'll all need LOL. I have to admit, though, from everything I've read about his family, this article has a point! Bill and Hillary, the last Dem couple weren't exactly role models. I think - at the least - Obama will continue the respect for the traditions of the oval office that W restored (sanitized) after Bill and Monica dirtied it up. Christian 134: You are right - the measure of a man is not how many children he can father but how many he can care for.

Alexander
0
Points
Alexander 12/14/08 - 08:33 am
0
0
Y'all seem to have a lot of

Y'all seem to have a lot of issues around this black / white thing. Doesn't matter what the issue being discussed is it always comes back to racial concerns. It's curious. Hopefully we're moving on to a better day in America.

christian134
1
Points
christian134 12/14/08 - 08:48 am
0
0
Alexander the crux of this

Alexander the crux of this editorial is African-American role model for marriage...The black thing is very apparent...I and others have only responded to the words written...The problem, as I see it, is not the rest of America moving on toward a better day but finding a solution to the problem in order to re-educate the African-American culture to progress into Americans. As long as African-Americans see themselves as "shoved to the ground by the mean white man" and will fight to the death, so to speak, to continue to stand apart there will continue to be a line drawn in the sand...When that day comes that people, no matter the color, choose to be responsible for their own lives and stand by their own decisions only then will we begin to move toward a better America...Maybe...

HYPOCRITES 08
7
Points
HYPOCRITES 08 12/14/08 - 09:42 am
0
0
Sgt. Midtown, the way you

Sgt. Midtown, the way you hate so much, it would not surprise me if you are receiving some type of assistance. Maybe for your mental illness?

JohnQPublic
5
Points
JohnQPublic 12/14/08 - 09:46 am
0
0
Slavery destroyed the black

Slavery destroyed the black family, or tried to. The dividing and conquering was continued with the government's inception of the welfare system. Education is the beginning of the way for young black men and women to break free, After that, they will see the big picture and the rest will follow. The Obama's are the finest example of how education changes lives.

HYPOCRITES 08
7
Points
HYPOCRITES 08 12/14/08 - 09:50 am
0
0
christian, where do you and

christian, where do you and you ILK get this Black man feel that he is being " shoved to the ground by the mean white man" from? Out of the thousands of Blacks that I know not one has ever said that. Did you learn that in Black Stereotyping 101?

bcs2k
0
Points
bcs2k 12/14/08 - 09:55 am
0
0
christian134; you seriously

christian134; you seriously need to wake up. I'm black and nobody I know feels the way you stated. It seems to be a stubborn desire of certain white folks to "think" in your manner. How sad. Perhaps it makes you feel better about your own failures. Obama will overall "re-educate the American people and culture to progress into the American dream". It certainly is the opposite of the clearly stiff and awkward relationship of John and Cindy McCain. The only thing John could inspire is cheating, divorce and re-marrying for money.

bcs2k
0
Points
bcs2k 12/14/08 - 10:00 am
0
0
Certain white folks are

Certain white folks are determined that black people walk around "complaining about the "white man" messing with us" (i.e. "shoved to the ground by the mean white man"). We do complain about white idiots (as well as black ones and idiots of other races) but if you actually believe most blacks whispering about stupid stuff (like Christian 134 stated) "KEEP FOOLING YOURSELF". LOL. Hope it makes you feel better about your own screw-up. Note: I fully expect a white poster to post an idiotic comment contrary to what I am stating. I will not be surprised if a non-black individual attempts to counter argue me (as if such person knows more about black people and being black than black people themselves)

christian134
1
Points
christian134 12/14/08 - 10:06 am
0
0
Oh wow ya'll need to get out

Oh wow ya'll need to get out more if you have not experienced what I am saying hypo and bcs2k...Maybe you have been witness to these type of behaviors and speaking over the past years but just have failed to open your eyes...My years on this earth have put me in the "privileged" position of hearing and seeing...I didn't have to attend school proper as it were just the school of hard knocks...So yes I will stand by my statements and what you want to make of them is your business Hypo and bcs2k....

bcs2k
0
Points
bcs2k 12/14/08 - 10:08 am
0
0
Christian134; Are you black?

Christian134; Are you black?

christian134
1
Points
christian134 12/14/08 - 10:10 am
0
0
:-) Now that is not necessary

:-) Now that is not necessary bcs2k....Why would you ask that? Have to grin again:-)

bcs2k
0
Points
bcs2k 12/14/08 - 10:14 am
0
0
christian134 ; No offense on

christian134 ; No offense on your "research" but you are light years from reality. I suggest traveling outside the CSRA and blogging other sites on the internet. Keep thinking backwards as you do and you'll stay at the school of hard knocks. Grinning with you. :-)

HYPOCRITES 08
7
Points
HYPOCRITES 08 12/14/08 - 10:15 am
0
0
No christian you need to keep

No christian you need to keep better company. I am more than willing to bet that I have traveled this world more than you have. I have talked to people of all types of social and political backgrounds and none have expressed this " white man is keeping us down" type of mentality. christian you stand by your statement because that is what you wish things were. I still by my statement because I know how they are. You nor anyone else owe me anything and that is exactly what I expect or want from you NOTHING.

HYPOCRITES 08
7
Points
HYPOCRITES 08 12/14/08 - 10:19 am
0
0
NO christian problem is that

NO christian problem is that she subscribe to that my Brother, Sister, cousin, Uncle, Aunt, Friend oer Church member are victims of Affirmative Action. In her mind any Black in a position of authority must have been helped by Affirmative Action. We Blacks, in her mind, are not capable of earning any position through hard work or determination.

bcs2k
0
Points
bcs2k 12/14/08 - 10:22 am
0
0
Hypo; I'm not sure if

Hypo; I'm not sure if certain CSRA residents (and local board posters) are aware that the issues they blog about (and the stance they have) are way out of touch with the rest of the world. It would be one thing if the CSRA was a booming economic and intellectual engine with great community relations and significant worldwide influence. But it's not. Reading some of these posts is like reading the funny papers. Christian's stuff is pure comedy.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 12/14/08 - 10:29 am
0
0
And with christian134 it's

And with christian134 it's the ungodliness, unholiness cares of this world that has her thinking like this. She says her years of experience I take it she's over 50 white and has racism embedded in her, most white people from 45 up have it in them, and I for sure have NEVER experence a black person saying what she stated. Why is it that most white people think like that, dare I say only in the south.

Tujeez
0
Points
Tujeez 12/14/08 - 10:30 am
0
0
Coalminerpa, Africans of the

Coalminerpa, Africans of the slavery era, in Africa, had no comparable family unit to that of so called "Civilized Societies". So, no, slavery could not have destroted the "Black Family". African "Societies" of the period appear to have been Male Dominated Tribal units, with the union of couples only in so much as the "male" thought it necessary. There appears to have been NO equality among the sexes. And it appears that the males changed wives whenever they deemed it necessary. This is not a "Family" unit as the "Slaves" encountered it in the new world. Women were often treated cruelly among the tribes of Africa, and many still are to this day. To make a blatant statement as to the distruction of the "black" family by slavery is purely an ignorant swipe at the non-existant evil-pig that slavery was, as it no longer exists. Try to reserve your hatred for all things not-like you to those things that really constituted the "black" experience during slavery. Making up stuff to decry only makes you appear to be a "Hater".

palomino9
0
Points
palomino9 12/14/08 - 10:31 am
0
0
too bad there are so many

too bad there are so many thugs in augusta, who will never marry, just keep making babies, and deserting their children.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 12/14/08 - 10:32 am
0
0
Pure comedy indeed bcs2k, and

Pure comedy indeed bcs2k, and then to hide behind supposedly christianity. Her mind is not changed, when you get saved God changes your mind.

JohnQPublic
5
Points
JohnQPublic 12/14/08 - 10:36 am
0
0
Tuljeez, you have no clue

Tuljeez, you have no clue what you are talking about.

bcs2k
0
Points
bcs2k 12/14/08 - 10:36 am
0
0
Jack;Amazing stuff falls from

Jack;Amazing stuff falls from the lips....or keys of certain posters. When they talk of things that are outside their realm of knowledge. Sick folks living in their "own" world and afraid of reality. Sad.

Tujeez
0
Points
Tujeez 12/14/08 - 10:37 am
0
0
jackfruitpaper833, I have

jackfruitpaper833, I have encountered members of the African-American community that have professed to be "devout" christians that have been repeatedly involved in extra-marital affairs. When these are brought to their attention, they say Judge not lest ye be judged. Now I ain't no Bible thumper but, there's something wrong with their walk, Brother. And you know it is the truth. So, don't go playing the up game. Walking on marbles is a hazardous hobby.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Many black colleges struggling

Although Paine has struggled with its own failures over the past several years, HBCUs across the nation are dealing with some of the same troubles that are threatening their missions and existence.
Search Augusta jobs