First, a few disclaimers: Christelyn D. Karazin isn’t one to look down her nose at single moms. She once was one.
Karazin realizes that a great many single moms do a very good job of rearing respectful, responsible children. We just shouldn’t turn a blind eye to those who don’t.
And she is keenly aware that not all single moms are African-American. There are just more -- 72 percent of African-American children are born out of wedlock.
But here’s the thing Karazin is trying to get the rest of us, young African-American women in particular, to consider: “You’re worthy and deserving of a committed partner when raising a child.”
That’s the message the 37-year-old mother of four will bring to Emory University on Thursday, when she is scheduled to address the 14th annual National Black Herstory Conference at the Whitehead Biomedical Research Auditorium.
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The conference, which ends Friday, is free and open to the public. For additional information, log onto www.blackherstory.org.
Karazin, the founder and organizer of No Wedding No Womb!, is scheduled to speak at 5 p.m.
She launched No Wedding, No Womb! last summer after her oldest daughter, born out of wedlock 13 years ago, asked Karazin why she never married her father.
“I knew the question was coming because children hold you accountable,” Karazin said.
But she also knew that it was a question that many other children ask, too.
It was then, Karazin said, that she launched No Wedding, No Womb!, an initiative to help raise awareness about and reduce the rate of African-American children born to single-parent households.
Studies show that children of unmarried mothers of any race are more likely to perform poorly in school, use drugs, go to prison and have their own children out of wedlock.
What bothers Karazin is that the 72 percent rate among African-Americans easily eclipses that of other ethic groups and the nation. For instance, 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites and 55 percent of Hispanics were born to unwed mothers in 2008, the most recent year for which figures are available. The rate for the overall U.S. population was 41 percent
No Wedding, No Womb! is meant to convey that if there is no commitment, then having a child should be out of the question.
“No Wedding, No Womb! is not about trying to keep people from having sex or policing people’s bedrooms,” said Karazin, who will celebrate her ninth wedding anniversary in April. “What I am saying is there are over two dozen forms of birth control -- choose one. This is a practical initiative about common sense, about us looking at the damage and saying this situation affects every Americans economically and socially.”
If you go:
What: National Black Herstory Conference
When: March 24-25
Where: Emory University Whitehead Biomedical Research Building, 615 Michael St., Atlanta
Cost: Free to the public
Other conference highlights:
- 6:15 p.m. "Longing: Stories of Racial Healing" by Phyllis and Eugene Unterschuetz. The white husband-and-wife team chronicles their journey from comfortable notions about race into the lives of people of African decent and a new racial awareness. A reception and book signing will follow.
- 2 p.m. Welcome Back and National BlacK Herstory Task Force Progress Report featuring Mozella Galloway, president and co-founder of the National Black Herstory Task Force; Dr. Juliet E.K. Walker, founder and director of the Center for Black Business History, Entrepreneurship and Technology; and Janis Kearney, publisher and former presidential diarist of the Clinton administration.
- 6:15 p.m. Holistic Self-Healing Therapies with the Rev. Josephine Jackson-Smith, pastor of Faith Alive Tabernacle Immediacy Ministries in Atlanta.
- 7:45 p.m. "Seen, But Not Heard: AIDS and the Untold War Against Black Women." Cyrille Phipps, media educator and video documentary maker, Urban Media Warrior, New York.