January 25, 2012

TWILIGHT OF THE JACKSONS:

Survey paints portrait of black women in America (Krissah Thompson, 12/22/11, Washington Post)

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.

The poll's findings and dozens of follow-up discussions reflect the conversations black women are having among themselves at church halls after Bible study, at happy hours after work, in college lounges after listening to lectures by the likes of Nelson, 45, who five years ago quit her job at a big D.C. law firm to write a book, "Black Woman Redefined."

She often tells young black women to forget what the outside world projects for them and be bold: "You can play this however you want to. You're living in the age of Michelle Obama."

It is a time in which one-third of employed black women work in management or professional jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and a record number are attending college. Black women with college degrees earn nearly as much as similarly educated white women. The number of businesses owned by black women has nearly doubled in the past decade to more than 900,000, according to census figures. Just Friday, Wal-Mart named Rosalind Brewer chief executive of Sam's Club, making her the first African American to be chief executive for a business unit of the world's largest retailer.

It is an age in which young black women see more options for themselves than ever. They can run a cable network (like Oprah Winfrey), lead a Fortune 500 company (like Xerox's Ursula Burns), become an international pop icon (like Beyonce). Secretary of State? Condi Rice has been there, done that.

But even in this "age of Michelle Obama," black women are rethinking the meaning of success and fulfillment. Many are concluding that self-empowerment is the road to happiness, and happiness does not require a mate.

"I can go to school. I can be successful. I can make money. I can have a career. That is in my power to control," says Towan Isom, 39, who owns a public relations firm in the District. "Finding a husband -- that would be great, but that's not in my power to control."

How depressing, to have elevated self above all else.
Posted by at January 25, 2012 6:20 AM
  

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