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Step Forward: Opening the Dialogue on Sexual Violence and Black Girls

By Nourbese Flint

In a classroom at Gardena High School, just outside of Los Angeles, a group of young Black women and women of color stand in a row and listen to a prompt: “If you don’t think young men respect you, step forward.” Each of the young women takes a step.

“If you’ve ever decided not to wear something tight or short because you thought men may talk to you or about you when you walk down the street, step forward.” Again, the young women all take a step.

Sexual harassment disproportionately impacts young Black women and women of color of all sexual orientations. Harassment can include physical, mental and emotional abuse, ranging  from a stare that makes a girl feel unsafe to objectifying remarks to unwanted sexual contact. As one high school student explained: “Sexual harassment to me is tearing down anyone, really. Physically, by touching; mentally, by calling them [sexualizing] names.” 

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