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Posted at 04:35 PM ET, 01/23/2012

Black Women in America: A look at The Post’s new series


Three generations of black women live together and wrestle with common stereotypes. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
On Monday, The Post ran the first article in its series on black women in America.

The story was based on a nationwide survey by The Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation that surveyed the views of African American women on everything from religion to family.

The article has more than 800 comments, some of which ask why The Post chose to focus on black women for this particular series.

Reporter Krissah Thompson responded to this question on our She The People blog. Thompson also teamed up with Jon Cohen, The Post’s director of polling, to address similar questions in a Q&A with readers.

Below are some of the questions from readers (note that we've edited some of the wording in the questions) with responses from Thompson and Cohen.

Is 800 women a large enough sample size?

Always a good question when it comes to surveys. We interviewed nearly 2,000 randomly selected adults, including the 808 black women we focus on in today's story. To get to this number, we interviewed more black women than we would have with a standard national survey. The key is randomization, we called a random selection of landline and cellular telephone numbers, and conducted interviews in English and Spanish. The margin of sampling error of our sample of African American women is plus or minus five percentage points

— Jon Cohen

Why the focus on black women? Aren’t there other ethnicities you could explore?

Actually, studies of the media show that women and minorities do not receive much in-depth coverage. Check out the post here on why we launched this series.

— Krissah Thompson

Why did The Post and the Kaiser Foundation decide to do a survey of African American women at this time?

The Post and Kaiser have been partnering on surveys since 1995, focusing on big-picture issues. We've done several surveys on race, including a major 2006 study on "Being a Black Man." We've been hoping to focus on black women ever since, and we had the opportunity this year to do the poll. Obviously, having Michelle Obama in the White House provides a related angle.

— Jon Cohen

Thompson also responded to some of the reader comments on the story:

westernstates: I think for all people, but particularly women, it cannot be stressed enough that you make yourself in your work, not in some romantic relationship. If being a full-time mother and homemaker is your work, fine. That is not the same as investing your soul in some illusory romantic idea of being in love. Young girls are still being sold that lie about the importance of relationships and they are still investing (read wasting) their young years in search of it. In the end, we are all alone. Your work is to find your work and then devote yourself to it tirelessly. That is true for all races.

Krissah Thompson You know, I heard some really interesting takes on this from the women I interviewed. Some women in their 40s wished they had spent more time on their personal lives while building their careers. Others are completely content with their choices. As a whole, the survey showed black women prioritize their careers over romantic relationships. For white women, the priorities were about equal.

Have a question or feedback about the series? Leave your thoughts in the comment thread below or tweet it using the hash tag #askthepost.

More on the series:

Story: Survey paints portrait of black women in America

She The People: Why we started the series

Gallery: A portrait of black women

Poll: Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll

Infographic: Looking at the polling data

Q&A: Surveying black women in America

User Poll: Is it a good time to be a black woman in America?

By  |  04:35 PM ET, 01/23/2012

 
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