In case you decided to forego the interwebs today (or you’re still recovering from the #EddieLong Twitter bonanza that was last Sunday’s social media brunch special–see Jelani Cobb or Dr. Goddess for the recap), last Wednesday saw the internet launch of the No Weddings, No Womb Movement. The site can feel a bit confusing in part because the founder, Christelyn Denise Karazin is doing a commendable and blog award worthy job of posting both criticism and support–the woman is braver than most Twitterati and I applaud her for it. But if you want a quick rundown, you can find the FAQs here, the initial announcement here, and follow the citizen-bloggers listed on the site here.
Plenty of critique has been levied at the No Weddings, No Womb “movement.” Two of my favorites were written by Bené and Sister Toldja but just throw the #NWNW hashtag into a Twitter search and you’ll get slammed with responses. Nothing gets the blogosphere buzzing like the action going on in a black woman’s womb.
There are also a number of supporters–like Sophia Angeli Nelson who wrote a lovely, non-judgemental post for the Grio. Some aren’t even turning a pro-marriage stance into an excuse to re-hash old Moynihan-esque arguments full of single mother stigma. Or offering chastity belts & promise rings to fourteen year old girls to be returned upon completion of their wedding ceremony.
Unfortunately, over the course of the last week, the conversation grew increasingly vicious. Twitfam were getting blocked and swarmed, misconstrued and misunderstood. The vitriol came from both sides (Note to Self: Is “Google it if you want to” the new “Meet me outside”?) and none of it is fostered productive and healthy debate. So I’m going to suggest something unusual and unnatural in this brave new world of 24 hours news and 21st century cyborgs.
Let’s. Slow. Down.
Yes, I know: Your timeline is full of words like #wedding, #marriage, #womb, #singlemother, #blackfatherlessness, or #wedlock. And I know that when those words appear alongside #black, #African-American #woman or #woc it causes some of you to break out into hives, scream invectives at your computer screen and run to your local library for a copy of Gutman’s, The Black Family in Slavery & Freedom, or perhaps E. Franklin Frazier’s The Black Family in the United States.
And yes, I know: You are the daughter of a married couple who have remained so despite X number of obstacles –or– you are the daughter of a single mother who made it do what it do despite X number of obstacles. This issue is personal for you–I hear you. And yes, I do recognize the extent to which the black/African-American community’s post-civil rights movement-traumatic stress and betrayed expectations of same are feeding into the intense, emotional and physical reaction we are having.
But there have got to be some things we can agree on without jumping down each other’s throats, making personal attacks or using our considerable, 140 characters worth of wit and sarcasm to discredit each other.
For example, and just for argument’s sake, let’s all agree that the “movement” in this case is the health, welfare and well-being of all children born under God’s yellow sun. Equal access to a safe, quality education. Equal access to opportunities and resources that will lead them down the professional path of their choice. Equal access to housing, to communities free of violence, to safe bodies and minds (no rape, no incest, no street harassment) and while we’re at it, we can throw in full bellies in those bodies, literacy to fuel those minds, confident images of themselves and their future in the world, a support network of kin (elders, parents, siblings and all other kin, fictive and real) who are completely committed to their just and whole development.
Is that a decent enough baseline to start with?
If so, the question becomes what did #NWNW leave out that may be causing such a ruckus? And is there a way for the #NWNW movement (or something similar) to assimilate the things that are missing–or is it just what the detractors are saying it is? (#Solutions)
1. Where are the men? This one is easiest. The #NWNW FAQs clearly state: