There's been a lot of talk about "No Wedding, No Womb" (sorry, I missed the big day). Basically the idea is to encourage black women (because there isn't enough of this) to not have kids until they're married. I'm tempted to call this sort of thing another iteration of organic black conservatism, but to the extent that conservatism has increasingly lost coherent meaning, it's more like a kind of black moral populism.
It's the black woman's version of the kind exhortations Bill Cosby, Barack Obama, and countless black public figures before them, engaged in. And that's fine--it's a tradition. But we should be clear about a couple things:
1.) It should be noted that this online movement emerges at a moment when media is utterly obsessed with alleged unhappiness of single black women.
2.) It should also be noted that the birth rate for unmarried black women has been declining for roughly forty years. The oft-floated notion that black couples, today, have somehow fallen from the moral precipice is bunk
, and the result of market for flashy stats (70 percent out of wedlock!) and an aversion to actual math (In 1970 the birth rate for unmarried black women was 96 per 1,000. In 2005 it was 60.6.)
3.) All of that said, I don't write this to urge anyone--of any gender--toward a thoughtless sexuality. Indeed, quite the contrary.
I am, at my core, a prude, who wanted to raise a child in a two-parent home, who believes in thinking about who you sleep with, thinking harder about who you have kids with, and even harder about how this person fits into this one-shot life.
I have never known marriage to be definitive evidence of such thinking, any more than a Bally's membership is evidence of prodigious health. An institution must be more than totemic, must be more than its name. These are the humble thoughts I have assembled after some 12 years of living in sin, ten of them spent rearing a wayward son in a heathen den of iniquity.
It's been a gay old time.
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is a national correspondent for The Atlantic
, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of The Beautiful Struggle
, Between the World and Me,
and We Were Eight Years in Power