Last week the Washington Post published the results of a phone survey of 1900 adults, on a range of issues, with individuals identified by gender and race. This weekend’s Observer published a follow-up article by Victoria Coren giving her interpretation of these findings. The general thrust was:
- According to this poll’s results, American black women tend to have higher self-esteem are more career-focussed, romantically independent, less stressed and more religious than white women.
- It must be because there are so few black models featured in magazines that black women “have managed to not get screwed up”.
- Black women should continue to be disconnected from and under-represented in the evil media, for their own good.
While I have a lot of respect and time for Victoria Coren, and I’m sure this was written with the best intentions and possibly with a tongue firmly in cheek, I feel she has deeply misunderstood, reduced and misrepresented a multitude of black women’s voices. Aside from the problem of a white woman telling black women how lucky they are to be excluded from mainstream society, the leap of logic exhibited in the piece is frankly a bit dodgy.
The survey methodology
“Black women…hold all the secrets to a happy and ambitious life”
Coren has single-handedly decided that the lack of BME (black and minority ethnic) models in the mainstream media is the sole cause for black women tending to have greater self-esteem.
For a start, the respondents weren’t even asked why they felt good or bad about themselves. As the research is clearly not qualitative, that’s understandable. However to use the absence of further information to ascribe speculation to the results is a little reductive.
I’m no sociologist, but presumably any given individual’s self-esteem arises from a combination of various factors such as ethnicity and culture, family, romantic relationships, school experience, education, role models and others. There’s no one simple answer.
For the full post, please continuing reading at We Left Marks.