Responsible writing, stereotypes, and data

African American family playing a board game

This week has been very busy, with us closing our November issue, and I’ve already fallen short of my goal to blog at least once a week. Oh well. When I finally had the time to catch up on some of my favorite non-business blogs, I noticed a lot of discussion involving a campaign called No Wedding, No Womb. I immediately disliked the title, because it calls to mind a very annoying Beyoncé song: you know, the one accompanied by a dance routine ripped off from Bob Fosse.

But beyond that, the whole campaign rests on the weird notion that black women, unlike everyone else, don’t consider the consequences of pregnancy outside of marriage and that, somehow, just airing the idea that “you should raise your child in a committed relationship*!” will change things. (‘Cause we’ve never heard that one before.) It’s pretty fogeyish, in my opinion. Notice I didn’t say “conservative” or “reactionary.” There are fogeys across the political spectrum.

Another aggravation is that the data around this topic are frequently miscontrued. In fact, it really annoys me that stats are tossed out so cavalierly, not just regarding this particular issue, but in general. One series of instances that irks me—especially since Inc. covers it in the October issue—is OkCupid and its OkTrends blog, which has released incredibly deep insights such as that black women aren’t desirable and that Protestants don’t write good. Of course, they give no information about their sample sizes for particular demographics, which is why several observers have raised their doubts. But ultimately, that doesn’t matter, as long as the company can make bank. CNN has even made a running franchise out of the practice.

Anyway, back to No Wedding, No Womb: I believe the campaign is well-intended. But given that black women have become the media’s second-favorite punching bag lately (Muslims are still tops), I just have to say: its participants need to do better than this.

*Although the campaign is called “No Wedding, No Womb,” apparently it’s not going for “marriage at all costs,” like another infamous campaign targeting unwed black parents.