Hindus and Marriage in American Society
Mainstream Hindus in American society don't always keep close track of the cultural trends in mainstream American society, or cultural trends in the other major ethnic groups. But it's probably time that changed, since trends that affect all other ethnic and cultural groups will eventually affect Hindu-Americans. A recent article from Yahoo News describes how out-of-wedlock births among practically all major racial groups in America have skyrocketed since the 1960s. It would be far-fetched to believe that the Hindu-American community will not eventually be dragged along with the rest.
The black community's 72 percent rate eclipses that of most other groups: 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008, the most recent year for which government figures are available. The rate for the overall U.S. population was 41 percent.
This issue entered the public consciousness in 1965, when a now famous government report by future senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan described a "tangle of pathology" among blacks that fed a 24 percent black "illegitimacy" rate. The white rate then was 4 percent.
Many accused Moynihan, who was white, of "blaming the victim:" of saying that black behavior, not racism, was the main cause of black problems. That dynamic persists. Most talk about the 72 percent has come from conservative circles; when influential blacks like Bill Cosby have spoken out about it, they have been all but shouted down by liberals saying that a lack of equal education and opportunity are the true root of the problem.
Jesse Washington, "Blacks struggle with 72 percent unwed mothers rate," 6 Nov. 2010, Yahoo! News, 7 Nov. 2010 <http://news.yahoo.com/...>
Of course, the 17 percent out-of-wedlock birthrate for "Asians" lumps in a lot of different groups; out-of-wedlock births among Hindu immigrant families from India may in fact be considerably lower. But the point of the article is that for other groups it had in fact been much lower at the onset of the 1960s and has skyrocketed since then. For example, the "white rate" of out-of-wedlock births is cited in the article as being 4%. (Note, this figure of 4% as of the 1960s is too low. About that time, it was according to government data around 10%, but the point is still valid--for whites and for other groups it was much lower than it is today.)
Since every other racial and immigrant category in the United States has at one time or another jumped on the "illegitimacy" bandwagon, the Hindu-American community will probably do likewise. This also means that if something pre-emptive is to be done about it, Hindu-Americans will have to start talking about it not only within the community but with others outside the community, too.