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Dear Kaiser and Washington Post: Black Women Don’t Want to be Studied Like Lab Rats

So this morning, one of my sisterfriends emails a bunch of us girls this Washington Post article, Survey Paints Portrait of Black Women in America,  which highlights the results of a Post/Kaiser Family research about black women.

In  surveying 808 black women (and 305 black men) followed with after-survey sample interviews, the authors try to figure out what makes us tick, what pisses us off, what burdens us and what we think is unfair.  After reading through the piece and skimming the results of the actual survey, it all seems harmless and well-intentioned enough save for one thing:

We don’t really take too kind to be studied like lab rats.

Even in the photo (see above) um “borrowed” from the Post article, the sisters stand there are all huddled there in their shared black sheet looking like scared harmless mice. Perhaps that too was a calculated decision to not make us look too powerful and commanding as someone probably said, we don’t want to be portrayed as domineering.

The image alone reminds me of a group of unique species that is largely misunderstood, not necessarily because of its rarity in the environment but because it’s thought to be benign, and not necessarily worthy of figuring out, except when it goes off on some angry rant and demands attention.

So here we have a research institute and a major influential newspapers which have decided to do the world a favor and try to encapsulate what they think is “the thing” with us.

Could the study have been a response and reaction to influential strong black women like Michelle Obama being perceived as “the angry black woman?”

So many people blamed Michelle herself for bringing up race and said she was the one with a huge chip on her shoulder by characterizing the picture that New York Times writer Jodi Kantor painted of her in Kantor’s new book The Obamas that way.

What’s the thing with those black women? Several commenters lamented in stories about Michelle Obama’s response to Kantor’s book.

And here we have two institutions in American life to the rescue to explain just what’s up with us so others don’t have to waste the time getting to know us better their selves.

Um Thanks but no thanks.

We’re too varied, diverse, independent, separate and unique in our perspectives and thoughts that even if you gathered 10,000 black women for a survey, they will never ever speak the the depth and breadth of all of us. Our thoughts and feelings are colored by our heritage which may be African, Caribbean, Latin, urban, rural, suburban, educated, middle class, lower middle class, with a history of abuse, with a history of success, surrounded by women matriarchs, in a two-family household, up the street, down the block, from the hood etc.

If you want to know what makes me tick, take the time to get to know me and you’ll find out.

I’ll be anxiously awaiting part 2 to this series to see if the authors recognize how insensitive and not necessarily appreciated this study and report is.

It harkens back to my past article I wrote that appeared on Politic365 and elsewhere about the Black Woman pathology of the week, where each week a survey, report, study were released concluding what pathology or social ill black women were guilty of committing: having out of wedlock babies, getting diabetes at a higher rate, not able to find a mate, not losing weight fast enough after having a baby; aborting kids at a higher rate than other races etc etc. This piece is another notch in that belt. All the oddities presented overshadow our accomplishments and creates a pathology out of our success. Those poor black ladies are doing so well they can’t find a man. Like the late great Florida Evans once exclaimed, “Damn! Damn! Damn!”

Maybe I do have a chip on my shoulder but can you blame me?

I’m waiting to see the study about what makes white women tick.

I guess I’ll be waiting a long time for that one, huh?

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