Brief Thoughts on #NWNW
Let me start by apologizing for my absence last week. I know people say this all the time but there is just so much going on in my head/heart that I almost can’t tell up from down. I could get personal and write about the emotional toll my ailing grandmother is having on me. I could talk about adjusting to my new job. I could talk about my health issues. But I chose to take the week off to try and piece my life together.
I had every intention of adding my two cents on the Eddie Long “situation” but Summer and Jonathan wrote beautifully on that topic. That leaves me to discuss the second most popular topic on my twitterfeed the past couple weeks.
You don’t need me to speak about the many ideals packed into such a simple statement. There is the explicit heteronormativity, the continuation of the virgin-whore dichotomy, and the ongoing fairytale myth that marriage is the one and only cure to the issues plaguing the Black family. I don’t believe in fairytales. Marriage is an institution that is dependent on so many other factors, making it hard to say that marriage is the answer to “Black fatherlessness”.
I respect author Christelyn Karazin who has bravely shared her story with us. But I have to say that movements like NWNW don’t serve to empower women. They reduce women to baby factories, relegate us to traditional gender roles, and enforce the idea that our worth is dependent on our performing those traditional gender roles. They perpetuate the myth that a “family” is a husband, a wife and kids. They ignore the fact that what children need most is nurturing. Does it matter if that comes from a single mother, a single father, a grandmother, aunt or otherwise? Imposing these types of moral and social norms on women as a group can do more harm than good.
I haven’t read all of the literature associated with “No Wedding, No Womb” but what I have read has done very little to assuage my fear that this could send the wrong message. Yes, the discussion works toward a deeper understanding but it just isn’t okay to toss around phrases like “no wedding, no womb”. I don’t think that the solution to “Black fatherlessness” is to trivialize the hard working single parents who sacrifice for, care for and provide for their children better than they could in a dysfunctional marriage.
I agree with Karazin and her supporters, we should be working toward a better future for Black children. A future where we implore them to adhere to moral and social norms but not be defined by them. A future where a woman can make a healthy decision about her body and her future without being subjected to the scrutiny of an entire community.