One of the news items creating buzz inside the DC Beltway this week is a national survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Washington Post exploring the lives and beliefs of African-American women. In a short feature explaining the poll's roots and methodology, Post editors included these helpful talking points:
Some of the key findings from the poll:
-- 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.
The religion numbers really jump out, when looking at the poll results themselves (click here). In fact, 92 percent of the black women polled said that "living a religious life" was important to them and, within that big-picture stat, a stunning 74 percent said religion was "very important." This put the importance of religious faith up at the top of the poll results, along with "being respected by others."
This fact is mentioned in the summary paragraphs high in the 3100-word first day report, which ran on A1.
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.
The poll’s findings and dozens of follow-up discussions reflect the conversations black women are having among themselves at church halls after Bible study, at happy hours after work, in college lounges after listening to lectures. ...
Believe it or not, that's the last Post readers were told about the role of faith in the lives of African-American women in the first two days worth of printed features based on this important study. The second-day report focuses on how black women feel about the values and style of First Lady Michelle Obama.
While the first-day story ended with a short promotional note alerting readers about the second-day feature, the lengthy Michelle Obama story does not end with an item holding out hope for another major installment of the series.
So, at this point, it seems that the high priority that African-American women say that they place on religious faith -- a value found at the very top of this Kaiser-Post poll -- will receive, oh, about a dozen words worth of attention in the printed editions of the newspaper. That would be about a dozen words out of 7,000 or so.
Will there, in fact, be future features produced from this important poll data?
We can only hope. There may be a reference that I have missed somewhere on the Post site to future publishing plans about this subject. I sure hope that is the case.
At the moment, all I am hearing is angry crickets.
Perhaps Post editors were shocked by this result and, in effect, had not taken religion into account when planning ahead for this buzz-worthy series. If so, this tells us more about the priorities of the editors of this important newspaper than it does about the values and lives of black women. That high pro-faith number in the poll is not shocking, for anyone who has done some research into this topic.
Let's hope that I am wrong and that a major feature is forthcoming on the missing religion factor in this series. One can hope.