Students speak about sexual relations, violence in black community


Annabel Edwards/Daily Senior Staffer

Weinberg senior Amrit Trewn gives a talk on interracial sexuality on Wednesday. The presentation on sexual violence in communities of color was co-sponsored by CARE and the Gender and Sexuality Studies Undergraduate Advisory Board.

Preston R. Michelson, Reporter

Two Northwestern seniors spoke Wednesday about interracial sexuality and sexual violence in the black community.

Communication senior Kyra Jones and Weinberg senior Amrit Trewn both presented the results of their senior theses at the Black House.

The event, which was part of Black History Month at NU, was co-sponsored by the Center for Awareness, Response and Education and the Gender and Sexuality Studies department.

Jones talked about her research on sexual assault in the Chicago-area black community.

In order to learn about what centers are doing to assist black rape survivors, she interviewed several centers dedicated to stopping sexual violence. One of the centers she visited was Rape Victim Advocates, which was formed in 1974 by a group of NU medical and nursing students. 

“The culture of secrecy is still extremely prevalent (in the black community),” Jones said. “Some of the people (who visit Rape Victim Advocates) even go as far as to use pseudonyms when seeking services.”

She also discussed CARE and the racial demographics of people who come to their offices for assistance.

Jones said 21 percent of students who went to CARE last year are black. According to the Multicultural Student Affairs website, 5 percent of the NU student body identifies as black or African-American. 

Jones warned that the small sample size of students who went to CARE last year and the office’s youth can potentially make those statistics misleading.

Laura Anne Stuart, coordinator of sexual health education and violence prevention at NU, said after Jones’ presentation that CARE is trying to start a task force to look at what those statistics signify.

“Does it represent a higher rate of sexual violence among black students here? Does it mean that we are doing an OK job with outreach, or could we do better?” Stuart asked. “We want to look at this in a systematic way and figure out what we can do better.”

Stuart also said CARE has a similar task force to look at how their office can better help LGBTQ students because they are also overrepresented in their demographics.

Trewn spoke about interracial relations and how they have evolved since the transatlantic slave trade.

“The millennial multiracialism is constructed by the media and political structures as not a problem, not a disruption,” he said. “But rather as a symbol for how far we have come as a society.”

However, he said that society has not totally adjusted to interracial dating.

“It’s OK if the elite black SAE brother who attended boarding school and played lacrosse dates a white sorority girl,” Trewn said. “It’s proper, he’s not too black and he’s an honorary white. But if a black football player is dating a white sorority girl, then she must have jungle fever and is thought of as dirty and improper.”

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