I started seeing murmurings and the uproar about “No Wedding, No Womb" (NWNW) on Twitter and still did not understand because I did not make the time to do so. I was still reeling from having attended Ron Walter’s funeral, as well as participating as a poet in the Furious Flower Poetry Center’s Tribute to Lucille Clifton, after responding to an invitation from Nikki Giovanni and Dr. Joanne Gabbin.
I really cannot speak for Lucille Clifton but I imagine she would get a chuckle out of “No Wedding, No Womb”, even as she would deride the male or female too irresponsible to properly care for and/or raise his/her own children.
Thus, it was perfect timing for me to see a tweet come across my timeline advertising the discussion of “No Wedding, No Womb” on Michael Eric Dyson’s radio program. The radio interview included Christelyn Karazin, the organizer, and Jamilah Lemieux, who blogs and tweets as "SisterToldja". The exchange was quite telling and I’m glad I waited to hear the information directly from the source because it became clear that Christelyn was confused and generally lacking in self-awareness regarding her own campaign and the motivations therein.
There is a disturbing undercurrent of “No Wedding, No Womb” and Karazin's narrative that self-consciously promotes (and then denies) interracial marriage as a solution to the problem of fatherlessness in the Black community. And, yet, consistently, I have found that Black women who champion interracial marriage (and, let’s face it, it’s largely with White men) turn a near complete and total blind eye to the many White men who leave White women with children out-of-wedlock, who leave their White wives struggling and suffering with children; and who otherwise use or abuse any woman of any ethnicity, from trying to take her money unjustly in a divorce (ask Whoopi Goldberg about that) to conveniently “discovering” their homosexuality post-marriage and family (ask Jim McGreevy’s ex-wife about that) to cheating on them after decades of support and the birth of five children with women from another continent (ask Mark Sanford’s ex-wife about that) and to great extremes such as killing them to prevent paying child support or revealing an ongoing affair (unfortunately, we cannot ask Laci Peterson about that, now can we?). Indeed, the romanticizing of relationships with White men is unrealistic, categorically racist and out-of-control.
|Yep. I had four boys and a loving white wife and I still bounced! Hey Sistas!|
Whether anyone will admit it or not, “No Wedding, No Womb” implicitly smacks of a consistent theme I have discovered in the Black blogosphere, in particular, which is essentially, “Black men ain’t sh*t”. And, you know, that really does not help anybody.
As she shared in her interview with Dr. Dyson, Christelyn mistakenly believes that her own motives and engagement in an interracial marriage should be excluded from analysis or consideration when discussing, evaluating or critiquing “No Wedding, No Womb”. No way. This campaign is one borne of an intensely personal situation (which she revealed), in that she was a middle-class African American woman in college who, through her own volition chose to:
1. Engage in sex
2. Engage in unprotected sex
3. Engage in a full-term pregnancy --- all of which she did with an African American male who, for reasons unbeknownst to us, chose to engage in unprotected sex and then failed to live up to his responsibilities as a result of making those choices.
Christelyn admits that she was so ashamed of being a single, pregnant woman that she purchased a fake wedding ring and wore it to fend off negativity and criticism from strangers. Of course, that type of effrontery does not work on one’s own friends and family, so at some point, she had to face their judgments alone.
“No Wedding, No Womb” seems to be a full projection of what Christelyn must have feared and, later, endured from her friends and family who had much higher expectations and judgment than Christelyn had of herself at some point in time. Sadly, I can relate, Sistergirl, so I do not stand in judgment of your personal turmoil at that time.
I think I understand where you’re coming from. It appears as though the underlying message to “No Wedding, No Womb” is “Value yourself more to protect yourself at all times and enter into a committed relationship with someone who is committed to you and your eventual offspring”. I get that. I dig that. I support that.
Sadly, a public media campaign entitled, “No Wedding, No Womb” does not do that.
Even Christelyn may admit that she has spent more time than she thought necessary trying to defend and explain “No Wedding, No Womb”, when that is not the sign of a successful campaign. The message should be clear. It should be pointed and it should be understandable and easy to defend. Instead, Christelyn (and some of her supporters) are all over the place with vague, contradictory and sometimes offensive retorts and explanations.
|Hey, Baby, pass the hot sauce, please? I'm glad I don't have to explain why...|
One cannot help but notice that in all of the aforementioned campaigns, Christelyn's interracial marriage does not apply. Hmmm. Even more, perhaps what inspired “No Wedding, No Womb” was Beyonce’s mega hit, “Single Ladies”, (an anthem which focuses upon a woman's narrative) in which she sings to her jilted ex-lover trying to block on the dance floor:
That, coupled with a video based on Bob Fosse’s choreography, heavily showcasing Beyonce’’s gyrations in her now infamous onesie (otherwise known as a leotard in the dance world) as well as her Michael and Janet Jackson-esque flaunting of a single-handed glove and the aggressively strategic point to the absence of a ring on the ring-finger seems to have been the ticket for Christelyn. Perhaps...
If you liked it, then you should’ve put on a ring on it!
Beyonce’ is a perfect example of the Madonna / Whore dichotomous trap in which women have been wrestling, largely stemming from a Westernized construction of Christianity that seeks to overcome human urges while also chastising (and in some cases, flogging) the self for its seeming inability to control them. Hence, the Victorian era focus upon women being chaste, obedient, submissive and domestic, after a period of wanton displays of sexuality and promiscuity. More often than not, the attempt to control a woman’s sexuality is most often aligned with and maintained by efforts at colonization and nationalism. It has very little to do with morality and much more to do with conquering nations and preventing babies mixed with the blood of “the enemy” (however so defined, given the historic period). Indeed, that's why Victoria had a "secret".
"No Wedding, No Womb" also belies a collective “mothering” and “fathering” tradition in many communities but the African (American) community, in particular, that does not rely on biological parentage. I even saw one blogger laugh at the concept of "It takes an entire village to raise one child", claiming the African American community had abandoned the idea. She apparently had no idea that's why we're still here.
But it’s not my job to try to sort out the campaign. I believe in women valuing their bodies. Indeed, I believe women are goddesses; but “No Wedding, No Womb” is a race game, a shame game and a publicity stunt that should be understood within its proper context.
Many other bloggers on the site make perfect sense, are clear, direct and substantive. But they did not come up with the campaign so it's the equivalent of serving a gourmet dish on a garbage can.
There is no direct action to "No Wedding, No Womb." There is no contextual call for justice or any real attempt at providing solutions beyond a grandiose wagging of a blog & song finger. And this is why Christelyn and far too many of her supporters have have spent more time defending and blocking people online than actually finding peace in this process.
Stay tuned for Part II.
Special shout to the Twitter family going in on the hashtag: #NWNW