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Black Women surveyed…exposed

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pic Source

by Brande Victorian via Madame Noire

When you read a headline that says “Survey paints portrait of black women in America,” you automatically get squeamish. On one hand, you think, finally, someone is asking us about us, but on the other you wonder why, and hope it’s not another story about single, black women.

The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation recently conducted a nationwide survey to develop an image of black women in America. The survey included interviews with more than 800 black women in the U.S., making it the most extensive attempt to understand the lives of African American women in several decades, and the poll touches on everything from religion and romance to careers and finances.

According to Washington Post writer Krissah Thompson, in a nutshell:

“Religion is essential to most black women’s lives; being in a romantic relationship is not… Nearly three-quarters of African American women say now is a good time to be a black woman in America, and yet a similar proportion worry about having enough money to pay their bills. Half of black women surveyed call racism a “big problem” in the country; nearly half worry about being discriminated against. Eighty-five percent say they are satisfied with their own lives, but one-fifth say they are often treated with less respect than other people.”

I’d say that’s a pretty accurate reflection and what I find remarkable about the summation is that even with the barriers we’re facing, the majority of black women are still satisfied with their own lives and believe it is a good time to be a black woman in America. This finding reminds me of the recent study that showed overweight black women have a higher quality of life than overweight white women. Both speak to the spirit of black women—we’re not necessarily strong and hard, we’re resilient and optimistic, and we take control of our circumstances.

As Beverly Bond, founder of Black Girls Rock! told The Post: “We have depth. We have pain. We have bad. We have good. We have complexity. We need to see the well-roundedness of who we are. We need to see everyone.”

The poll attempted to do that by approaching the subject from the perspective of black women rather than drawing conclusions from their outside perceptions. A few of the results showed:

  • Forty percent of black women say getting married is very important, compared with 55 percent of white women.
  • More than a fifth of black women say being wealthy is very important, compared with one in 20 white women.
  • Sixty-seven percent of black women describe themselves as having high self-esteem, compared with 43 percent of white women.
  • Forty percent of black women say they experience frequent stress, compared with 51 percent of white women.
  • Nearly half of black women fear being a victim of violent crime, compared with about a third of white women.

I find that last statistic extremely telling, particularly in lieu of the recent attention that’s finally being focused on missing black women. Everything in the media tells us its white women who are the victims but they don’t even believe that themselves, its black women who fear being victimized, and most likely left to pick up the pieces on their own afterward.

Other findings show:

  • Nearly six in 10 black women worry about providing a good education for their kids.
  • 63 percent of black women said it is acceptable to have a child without being married, roughly the same percentage as white women.
  • 67 percent of unmarried black women say they would be willing to marry someone of another race.
  • One-quarter of black women (educated and less-educated) said they often perceive that others think they are not smart.

Author Sophia Nelson says black women have never really defined themselves and I agree with her. Even statistics don’t make up a clear portrait of what it is to be a black woman in America but I think many women in the younger generation are changing the face from strong, backbone of the family who puts everyone else’s needs before hers, to an independently-minded career woman who will shape her personal life however she so pleases. According to Nelson, that’s exactly how it should be. She says she tells black women to forget what society tells them to be and be what they want to be. “You can play this however you want to. You’re living in the age of Michelle Obama.”

What do you think about this poll, are you skeptical of its intent? Can you identify with the results?

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