Lecture: Don’t Believe the Hype, Black People Still Get Married


Kea Taylor, Photographer and Author of “I Still Do - A Celebration of African-American Weddings”

Thursday, April 01, 2010




It’s an honor to see so many bright and beautiful faces out there.  You all look fantastic!  Today, first we’re going to watch a short video and then I want to engage you in a discussion about marriage.  So sit back, relax, take this in…and we’ll talk in a minute about how this video makes you feel.

[EMBED YOU TUBE VIDEO TITLED: I STILL DO - A Celebration of African-American Weddings (posted by imaginephotographydc)]  Embedding code provided below

How many of you have ever seen that many happy Black couples on TV?  If you’re like me, never!  Finding a young Black couple that is happily married in the media is like hitting the lottery! And I’m not alone in feeling this.  For example…I’m a professional photographer and one night I was out with my girls and someone asked me what I do.  I told them I’m a photographer and they asked me, “what do you shoot?’  When I responded that among other things, I shoot weddings, one responded, “Weddings?  People are still getting married these days?”

Or I still remember reading an article in the Washington Post years ago where a Washington, DC boy, when asked about getting married responded, “Marriage is for white people,”  Wow.

Now before we go any further.  I want to be very clear…marriage is NOT for everyone.  But marriage is DEFINITELY not just for white people.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my White, Latino, Native American, Asian, Pacific Islander brothers and sisters out there but aren’t Black people just as entitled to have a happy and healthy relationship as anyone else on this Earth?  I don’t see why not!

As Black women, all we hear is depressing statistics about how more Black men are in jail than in college or those that are not in jail are unemployed or undercover homosexuals.  The Black women that are praised are the skimpiest dressed, have sex with the most men or tout the fact that they’ve made their life “without a man!” (with neck roll included).  One would think that Black women that want to get married ought to just curl up in a little feminine ball and cry.  As for Black men, they are bombarded with images of trashy Black women with no morals and terrible attitudes.  Men are praised for having a variety of women and treating them like material possessions.  “I got my car, my house and my woman”.  We are shown very few images of patient, giving and loving Black women that we would actually want to marry.

But here’s the funny part.

Every other day I get a call from a couple inquiring about whether or not I can photograph their wedding.  They come into my studio, all shapes, colors, ages and sizes.  Holding hands, laughing at each other’s jokes, telling me about their dreams for their wedding day and their lives after.  And they look nothing like these people that are on TV.  And I wanted to share my experiences with these people with you.

So if you don’t wanna get married.  No worries.  But if you’re still that hopeless romantic (like me)...Here’s a quick guide to keeping your sanity in this crazy crazy world.

1.  Know the Truth: Marriage Runs in Our Race
Since the beginning of time, African cultures have had rituals to celebrate the major seasons/milestones in life.  Birth, puberty, marriage, birth of children, elderhood and death.  It was very important that every human being…in order to be a complete being and reach maturity and Godliness went through these stages.  (And even if you didn’t have children, you would take responsibility for nieces and nephews or another child).

Even African-Americans were brought here and enslaved, Joy Jones writes, “although slavery was an atrocious social system, men and women back then nonetheless often succeeded in establishing working families. In his account of slave life and culture, ‘Roll, Jordan, Roll, ’ historian Eugene D. Genovese wrote: ‘A slave in Georgia prevailed on his master to sell him to Jamaica so that he could find his wife, despite warnings that his chances of finding her on so large an island were remote’. . . .I was stunned to learn that a Black child was more likely to grow up living with both parents during slavery days than he or she is today, according to sociologist Andrew J. Cherlin”.

Isn’t that amazing?  That a Black child was more likely to grow up with two parents during slavery that he or she would be today?  Could it be that our forefathers were not slaves, but in fact WE are putting ourselves in slavery by not exercising our right to a happy marriage and family?

2.  Learn the benefits of being married and watch married people you know.
The Marriage Works campaign recognizes that the benefits of marriage have been quantified through decades of research*.  In general:

- Married people earn and save more money
- Kids of married parents do better in school
- Married people enjoy better health
- Married people make better parents
- Kids of married parents do better economically
- Kids of married parents are more likely to have long-lasting marriages
- Married people live longer
- Married people have lower rates of substance abuse
- Married people are happier
- Married people spend half as much time in hospitals
- Married people live more stable, secure lives.
- Married people live more active lifestyles.
- Married women experience lower rates of domestic violence.
- Married people have better mental health.
- Boys raised by married parents are less likely to commit crimes*.

Don’t you want these things for your life?

3.  Consider who is giving you wedding advice.
I can’t tell you how many newly divorced people and unhappy people will try and convince you not to get married.  Misery loves company.  I always tell people…if you were trying to train to run in the Olympics, whose opinion would you value more?  The advice of the runner who came in dead last or the runner that came in first with a gold medal?  The person that came in last can certainly tell you how to lose.  But the one who came in first can truly tell you how to win.

So I’ll finish with this.  If you have it somewhere in your heart to be married, don’t worry!  Your prince or princess will come.  Just focus on being the best you can be…And don’t let anyone tell you there’s no hope for your dream to come true.  And in the meantime, if you need a little inspiration, check out my book, “I Still Do - A Celebration of African-American Weddings” (  I designed the book just for you.

Click here to read a PDF of the first few pages of “I Still Do”

Please submit all questions and comments to Kea Taylor at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Paul R. Amato and Danielle DeBoer, 2001. “The Transmission of Marital Instability Across Generations: Relationship Skills or Commitment to Marriage?” Journal of Marriage and the Family 63 (4) November.
Ronald Angel and Jacqueline Worobey, 1988. “Single Motherhood and Children’s Health”, Journal of Health and Social Behavior 29: 38-52.
Suzanne Bianchi, 1999. “The Gender Gap in the Economic Well Being of Nonresident Fathers and Custodial Mothers,” Demography 36: 195-203.
Rebecca Blank, 1997. It Takes a Nation: A New Agenda for Fighting Poverty (New York: Russell Sage Foundation).
C. Cornwell and P. Rupert, 1997. “Unobservable Individual Effects: Marriage and the Earnings of Young Men,” Economic Inquiry 35 (2): 285-294.
Kingsley Davis (ed.) Contemporary Marriage: Comparative Perspectives on a Changing Institution (New York: Russell Sage Foundation).
Jeffrey Gray and Michael Vanderhart, 2000. “The Determination of Wages: Does Marriage Matter?”  Linda J. Waite et al. (eds.) The Ties that Bind: Perspectives on Marriage and Cohabitation (New York: Aldine De Grutyer): 356-367.
Donna Gunther and Madeline Zavodny, 2001. “Is the Male Marriage Premium Due to Selection? The Effect of Shotgun Weddings on the Return to Marriage”, Journal of Population Economics 14: 313-328.
E. Marvis Hetherington and John Kelly, 2002. For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered (New York: W.W. Norton): 240-47.
Jane Mauldon, 1990, “The Effects of Marital Disruption on Children’s Health”, Demography 27: 431-446.
Sara McLanahan, 2000. “Family, State, and Child Well-Being”, Annual Review of Sociology 26 (1).
Mark Rank and Thomas Hirschl, 1999. “The Economic Risk of Childhood in America: Estimating the Probability of Poverty Across the Formative Years”, Journal of Marriage and the Family 61.
Catherine Ross and John Mirowsky, 1999. “Parental Divorce, Life-Course Disruption and Adult Depression”, Journal of Marriage and the Family 61(4) November
Schoenborn CA. Marital Status and Health: United States, 1999-2002 Advance data from vital and health statistics; no. 351. Hyattsville, Maryland: National Center for Health Statistics. 2004
Pamela Smock, et al., 1999. “The Effect of Marriage and Divorce on Women’s Economic Well-Being,” American Sociological Review 64: 794-812.





At just under 35 years old, dynamic photographer and entrepreneur, Kea Taylor, has a life story filled with experiences that dreams are made of.  At the age of 25, Taylor quit her job in finance to grow Imagine Photography which has quietly become one of the most prolific photography studios in the Washington, DC area.  Known for her uncanny talent for capturing the spirit of her subjects, her work has been featured on the pages of Black Enterprise, British News and Observer, Ebony, Jet, The Source Magazine and other regional and national publications. 

At just 5’3” you may have seen her petite frame photographing President Obama’s Inaugural Ball, the NAACP Image Awards, rural education centers in Uganda or events for Spike Lee, ESPN or Nike.  Imagine has served as contracted photographer for AARP, BET, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, NAACP, Washington Convention and Sports Authority and various non-profit and government agencies.

A native of Washington, DC, Taylor graduated with honors from the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill with a dual degree in Urban Economic Policy and Business.  After working for years in development finance (while doing photography on the side), Kea quit her job and used her talent for business to transform her passion for photography into a thriving enterprise.  Originally a portrait and wedding studio, Imagine quickly became being the official photographer of Washington Nationals Stadium, the Washington Sports and Convention Center Authority, and designer of, “The Soul of the City”, a groundbreaking regional business and community guide.

However compelling, none of her corporate achievements could eclipse the word of mouth building about Kea’s ability to shoot breath-taking candid wedding photography. Wowing clients with her ability to find the perfect moments that great pictures are made of, Taylor has been hired to photograph weddings from South Carolina to the south of France.

Taylor is celebrating her tenth year in business with her new book, “I Still Do: A Celebration of African-American Weddings”.

Kea Taylor still resides in Washington, DC with her loving husband and three stepsons and is always looking for meaningful stories to tell with her camera.
Kea Taylor can be contacted for interviews and appearances at:
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Don’t forget to visit