On September 22, the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, writer Christelyn Karazin launched her site for the “No Wedding, No Womb” movement. The Internet has been all the buzz around this issue since its inception. In droves people have either pledged their support or voiced their opposition. You all should know me well enough by now to know I’m a part of the latter.
Back in August, Loop 21 ran a blog rant disguised as an article titled Stupid Excuses for Having Kids Out of Wedlock. In the article, Karazin proudly referred to herself as a “baby mama” in attempts to validate her stance. Her post ended declaring, “It’s time for women and men to stand together with a new mantra, “No Wedding, No Womb!”” With a raised eyebrow, I knew this PR slogan mantra would reappear later.
“No Wedding, No Womb” is a movement advocating black men and women be married before reproducing children. On the surface marriage is the ideal family structure, and her goal seems to be honorable. Yet the concept is problematic.
Karazin has written for a number of publications, is the co-author of the upcoming book, Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race Culture and Creed and runs the website Beyond Black & White. She’s a mother, self-proclaimed “baby mama,” and married to a white man. The last sentence of her bio reads, “[Christelyn is] a mother of four children–three of them biracial–and has been married to her husband, Michael, (who just happens to be white) for eight happy, hectic years.”
Hmmm. Now why would she need to profess to the world that three of her four children are biracial, and her husband is white? Why separate your children based on their racial identity? Furthermore, is it necessary for everyone to know her husband is white? Also keep in mind Karazin has a Paypal donation box on the site. What is this money being used for? It was also made clear in her original blog post that the father of her first child is black and he never married her. So could her movement be a response to an underlying issue she has with black men? Could she be platform building to sell her upcoming book?
I mention this not to attack Karazin’s character. However, it is imperative to understand the source and her motives when she has created a movement of some sorts.
Why “No Wedding, No Womb” is Problematic
Karazin’s initiative is based on the skewed statistic that 70 percent of black children are born out of wedlock. Yet Karazin fails to provide any other context surrounding this statistic. I’m a writer, so I hate math. But the Atlantic’s Senior Editor Ta-Nehisi Coates does an excellent job breaking down the actual math in a 2008 and 2009 article on the subject.
Presumably, Karazin equates out of wedlock with absentee. Very flawed logic. This is why I question most statistics and studies. 70 percent of black children born out of wedlock is not synonymous with both parents not being actively involved in the child’s life. Does the statistic include women who have the child out of wedlock and later marry the father or another man? We don’t know because the statistics don’t provide that information. Out of wedlock means just that. It is not an indication of how the child is being raised or by whom.
My biggest problem with “No Wedding, No Womb” is the vilification of black women. As if the media’s obsession with the unhappy successful single black woman meme wasn’t enough. In the FAQ section of the newly launched site, she specifically states she is not bashing single mothers. Maybe not directly, but indirectly that is exactly what is happening. Inserting womb in the mantra directly shifts the accountability, responsibility and blame to the women. Where is the “She Didn’t Have this Baby by Herself” mantra? It seems like just another attack on black women.
Its no surprise conservatives have jumped on the bandwagon to support the campaign. A black woman heading a movement that blames the black community for its current condition is right up their alley. No need to study history to understand slavery largely contributed to the dismantling of the black family.
Raising children is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly; and a nuclear family is ideal for some. But nuclear families are not always the best for the child either. Married couples are not always the best parents, especially if there is turmoil between the spouses. There’s a popular saying, “I’d rather have one good parent then two dysfunctional ones.”
Time would be better spent educating and mentoring teenage girls about the ramifications of sex. Helping to build our young girls self-esteem so they don’t feel pressured into sex would be a better proactive approach. Or what about a program that emphasizes sex without a condom can be a matter of life or death? A movement providing resources for women who are already single mothers with the hopes of ending the cycle is even better. That’s something worth people’s time.
In the meantime stop pretending as if black women somehow are the culprits of this out of wedlock calamity. In the words of writer Helena Andrews, “And can I just say that I’m f*cking tired of the vilification of single black mothers. I’m still being raised by one. I’m awesome. The end.”