Anytime a newspaper launches a series on any one group, the question is asked. So I’ll ask it. Why focus on that group? Why focus, in this case, on black women?
There are several reasons: Black women themselves have been having more conversations about what it means to be a black woman today. (See the 2011 books “Black Woman Redefined” and “Sister Citizen,” which capture a part of the conversation.)
Of course first lady Michelle Obama, just by virtue of being the first black woman in her position, has sparked much of this discussion. And then there’s the disproportionate impact of this recent recession on black women and a raft of fascinating data from the federal government. For example, black women as a group have made major career gains and also are the group least likely to be married. Those data points spark questions and discussion.
But most important, our journalism is undergirded by a national poll by The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation that asks black women where they stand on a range of issue. It’s one of the largest such surveys in decades — perhaps since the 1980s.
Some of the key findings from the poll:
— Religion is essential to most black women’s lives; being in a romantic relationship is not, the poll shows.
— Nearly three-quarters of African American women say now is a good time to be a black woman in America, and yet a similar proportion worry about having enough money to pay their bills.
— Half of black women surveyed call racism a “big problem” in the country; nearly half worry about being discriminated against.
— Eighty-five percent say they are satisfied with their own lives, but one-fifth say they are often treated with less respect than other people.
So here we are, kicking off a conversation. As the series continues, let’s see where it takes us.