Why it’s harder for African American women to report campus sexual assaults, even at mostly black schools

Chardonnay Madkins knows firsthand the pressures African American women can face when reporting campus sexual assaults.

She says she was assaulted in two separate incidents, once at a mostly white college and another time at a historically black college.

In reporting the assaults, Madkins says she endured similar efforts — some subtle and some overt — to persuade her to back down rather than lodge a complaint against a fellow black student.

Now as project manager for the advocacy organization End Rape on Campus, Madkins, 25, is working to bring more attention to the role race can play in the handling of campus sexual assaults, and the distinct difficulties black women can face.

In some instances, that means that they will discourage survivors from reporting, or doing things to discourage survivors to continue forward with their report.

What do you think is the solution for this?

Just start having these conversations at younger ages. And within the black community.

When we’re talking about things like police violence or other kinds of inequalities within our community, that we are also inclusive of the inequalities more marginalized black people experience, like black women — black cis[gender] and transgender women — black LGBTQ, black incarcerated folks and black people with disabilities, because those people are just as equally important to our community and important to ending the problem.

Because it deals with sensitive racial issues, do you think that makes it harder to have a conversation?

I don’t think it makes it harder. I think it makes it so people don’t want to listen.

We understand that when we’re saying these things that it makes some people uncomfortable. What we hear a lot, or at least previously heard a lot, is that if we’re talking about sexual violence, then we just want to talk about sexual violence and we don’t want to talk about racial issues or gay rights issues or anything else because this is the topic we’re focusing on and everything else is divisive.

I think those responses are the reason why we’re still where we are today. These issues don’t happen in a vacuum and when there are people who live at these intersections, it is most important to not only talk about these issues, but center them.

lauren.rosenblatt@latimes.com

Twitter: @LRosenblatt_

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