Reads: Soul Mates: Religion, Sex, and Marriage among African Americans and Latinos, Rebuilding a Marriage Culture in 21st-Century Black and Latino America

Soul Mates argues that a “confluence of economic, policy, and cultural currents came together with sufficient force in the late 1960s and 1970s to generate a tidal wave of family change” — and African Americans and Latinos were most susceptible to its effects. The explanations, the authors argue, have to do with history, most especially the poisonous effects of slavery, segregation, and other forms of discrimination; with culture, since Latinos and African Americans are more likely to be consumers of popular culture and therefore its messages of hedonism and radical individualism; and with structural issues such as deindustrialization, poverty, incarceration, and poor education. William J. Bennett once pointed out that an earthquake that struck Mexico City in the mid 1980s was less powerful than the one that would hit San Francisco only a few years later. But in Mexico City, the casualties were many times higher and the overall damage much worse. The reason? The amount of devastation often depends less on the magnitude of a quake than on the stability of the structures it affects. This is essentially what Wilcox and Wolfinger argue as to why African-American and Latino families have suffered disproportionately from the aftershocks of the family and sexual revolutions.