Washington Post Survey Paints Complex Portrait of Black Women

Rich or poor, educated or not, black women sometimes feel as though myths are stalking them like shadows, their lives reduced to a string of labels.

The angry black woman. The strong black woman. The unfeeling black woman. The manless black woman.

“Black women haven’t really defined themselves,” says author Sophia Nelson, who urges her fellow sisters to take control of their image. “We were always defined as workhorses, strong. We carry the burdens, we carry the family. We don’t need. We don’t want.”

In a new nationwide survey conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, a complex portrait emerges of black women who feel confident but vulnerable, who have high self-esteem and see physical beauty as important, who find career success more vital to them than marriage. The survey, which includes interviews with more than 800 black women, represents the most extensive exploration of the lives and views of African American women in decades.

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.

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Washington Post Survey Paints Complex Portrait of Black Women

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  1. I simply wish that they could learn to love themselves as much as they love their men. Do more to attract men. Read a book, jog, join a gym or club. Do something to show how much one is able to love themselves.

  2. Not sure I agree that it is not essential to be in a romantic relationship. I believe it is difficult to admit wanting something that seems completely outside one’s grasp. Like anything else if I want it I need to commit to an attempt to attain it but Black women love love love Black men–and it’s just hard to make that deep connection we want to make. Complicated and complex