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Langston Hughes Lecture: Beyond Resilience - Sexual Assault and the "Strong" Black Woman

Friday, October 20, 2017

LAWRENCE – The intersection of gender, violence, race and resilience will be explored at the fall 2017 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor Lecture at the University of Kansas.

Associate Professor of Sociology Brittany Slatton, the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor, will deliver “Beyond Resilience: Sexual Assault and the ‘Strong’ Black Woman” at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, in the Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union. The presentation is free and open to the public.

“'Beyond Resilience: Sexual Assault and the “Strong” Black Woman' addresses the ways in which the social construction of black womanhood — shaped by the politics of strength and silence — contributes to how black women sexual assault survivors understand their roles, rights and opportunities as sexual beings,” Slatton said.

Research shows almost one in five black women are sexually assaulted in the United States. Black women experience higher rates of sexual assault or rape than their white counterparts, and the Department of Justice finds only one black woman out of 15 will report her rape, Slatton said. Activist and author Angela Davis noted in 1985 that black women are most in need of an anti-rape movement. Despite this call for action decades ago, the stories of black women survivors continue to be absent or underrepresented in the literature and research on sexual assault. And most of the research on rape focuses on the college campus and the experiences of white women. Slatton’s talk will examine how culture and marginalized status affects black women’s decisions to disclose, how others respond to their disclosure and the ways in which they cope with sexual trauma.

Slatton is an associate professor of sociology at Texas Southern University in Houston. Her research focuses on mate selection, racial performances and intersectionality. She has published books on race, gender and sexuality, including “Mythologizing Black Women” and an edited forthcoming book, “Women and Inequality in the 21st Century,” to be published by Routledge. She has also written articles on the contemporary manifestations of racism, including “Frontstage and Backstage Racial Performances: The Contributions of Back-stage Methodological Research," which is forthcoming in Africana Social Stratification, edited by James Conyers. She earned her doctorate in race and gender studies from Texas A&M University-College-Station. She also has been a visiting scholar in the African-American studies program at the University of Houston.

KU’s Langston Hughes Visiting Professorship was established in 1977 in honor of the African-American poet, playwright and fiction writer who lived in Lawrence from 1903 to 1916. The professorship brings a prominent or emerging minority scholar to the university for one semester each year. After a call from the Office of the Provost, deans from KU’s academic units submit nominations which are reviewed by the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor Committee. The professorship has been a valuable vehicle for bringing prominent minority scholars to the university for visiting appointments, as well as for recruiting permanent faculty. In addition to educating countless students over the years, 12 of the visiting professors have joined the faculty ranks at KU.

A reception for Slatton will follow her presentation.

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