Have him put a ring on it
No Wedding No Womb (NWNW): Another exhortation to African Americans to change their behaviour in order transform the rate of out of wedlock birth, and thus create better economic conditions for black women and children.
I normally avoid engaging with these sort of endeavours because discussions about out of wedlock birth in the African American community tend to come with a healthy dose of anti-feminism and moralising that puts me right off. After seeing the movement mentioned at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ place and at Postbourgie I decided to take a look for myself, and saw much to gnash my teeth about, for example the presence of Mitch Albom’s fumduckery on the media page. Yes, I’m a real masochist.
What bothers me most is that NWNW does not do anything new. Christelyn Karazin, the movement’s founder, claimed that she is bringing together top bloggers, artists, and journalists who believe that out of wedlock birth is a key factor in the “emotional and economic enslavement that black women and their children continue to experience”. And therein lies the rub.
It should be noted that there is at least one study in a 1995 report on out of wedlock birth, which points out that 75 percent of African American Women were poor before they became single mothers:
Single motherhood is associated with higher poverty rates and higher rates of welfare receipt among women. It also is associated with higher rates of depression, unhappiness, low self-esteem and poor health (McLanahan and Booth 1989; Seltzer 1994; Brown and Eisenberg 1995). However, it is important to note that while the official poverty rate is 4 to 5 times as high in single mother families as in married-couple families, 45.7 versus 8.4 in 1992 (U.S. Census 1993), these differences greatly exaggerate the consequences of single motherhood per se. Women who become single mothers, either through divorce or a nonmarital birth, have less education and lower earnings capacity to begin with than women who marry and remain married. Their partners are also disadvantaged relative to other men. Mary Jo Bane found that about 25 percent of white women and about 75 percent of African American women were poor prior to becoming single mothers, suggesting that single motherhood accounts for no more than half of the higher poverty rates of single mothers as compared with married-couple families (Bane 1986).
You have to actually change the conditions that inform the calculus by which people make the decisions they make. It’s annoying to have to even say this, but keeping black men out of jail or bringing up high school graduation rates or whatever might actually require more complex solutions than getting enough people to wag their fingers really, really hard.