(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to black women and marriage, there are some dire statistics: studies have shown, as many as 70 percent of them are unmarried.
But a new book adds fresh ideas and a new tone to the conversation, suggesting black women need to start looking for suitable mates -- outside their race.
"Many women would do well to expand their options in the same way people of other races have, and look beyond black men in their search for a partner," Stanford law professor Ralph Richard Banks told ABC's Nightline. "Black women are the most segregated group in our society when it comes to relationships."
For his book, Is Marriage for White People?, Banks conducted roughly 100 interviews with African-Americans about their marriage and dating ideals and experiences. His explanation as to why marriage rates are so low among black Americans is that there is a shortage of eligible black men.
"There's a social catastrophe going on in terms of black men," he said. "Imprisonment numbers, unemployment numbers, under-performance academically, these are crisis not just for African-Americans, but for the nation."
Only about 9 percent of black women are married to men of a different race -- compare that to 41 percent of Hispanic women, 48 percent of Asian women and 58 percent of Native American women in the United States. However only 8 percent of white women marry outside their race. To Banks, it seems like it is time for a change.
"Interracial marriages have actually been rising for everyone," Banks said. "Black women have fought the good fight. They have engaged in what one friend described as a 'noble effort,' trying to lift black men. That's praiseworthy, but at the same time we should recognize that, that strategy hasn't really worked."
Critics of Banks' book say that he is just a profiteer who is benefiting financially from black females' anxieties at the expense of black male egos.
"I have been called a racial pimp," Banks said. "I think the view is wrong."
After earning his bachelor's degree from Stanford and his law degree from Harvard, Banks then married a black woman. His contention now is that black women would be better served if -- in his words -- they don't marry down, but marry out.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio