The Black male student support group Here Earning a Destiny Through Honesty, Eagerness and Determination partnered with the Sexual Assault Protection and Awareness Center and the LSA Student Government’s Diversity Affairs Committee to kick off the first event of the Telling the Untold Truth series Tuesday evening.

Telling the Untold Truth consists of a series of three panels aimed to confront the myths of sexual violence. The series also hopes to discuss types of sexual violence that are rarely discussed.

Along with the panel presented by HEADS, the Spectrum Center will present an event on LGBTQ victims of sexual assault and the Coalition for Queer People of Color will host a panel on institutionalized homophobia in minority communities.

Dozens of students gathered inside the Michigan Room of the League to discuss the first topic of the series: black male hypersexualization, or the portrayal of Black men in the media as sexual aggressors, as well as other negative stereotypes of Black men related to sexual assault.

Both SAPAC and HEADS facilitators discussed negative stereotypes associated with the sexuality of Black men and how individuals can diminish these associations.

“Throughout the small discussions and dialogue, I’ve seen a lot of faces perk up like, ‘Oh, I never realized that,’ and … even when we brought up some of the modern-day examples in the media, even though a lot of these people have seen these pictures before, they never really looked at the deeper meaning behind them,” Kinesiology senior Fitz Tavernier, Jr., co-vice chairman of HEADS said.

Tavernier said there are many negative stereotypes associated with Black male sexuality at the University, especially pertaining to recent crime alerts. He said he believes most of the sexual and physical assault descriptions depict Black men and people of color as the aggressors.

“I’m not saying these crime alerts aren’t true, but you do see a lot that is present — even here on campus,” Tavernier said.

LSA sophomore Anna Forringer-Beal, a SAPAC volunteer, said the series of events will benefit the University by de-stigmatizing the issue of sexual assault and forcing students to act out against it.

Before the event, Forringer-Beal said she hoped people would leave with a better understanding of the hypersexualization of Black men and realize there are many incorrect beliefs pertaining to sexual violence. She added that she hopes people will understand that sexual violence is something that affects every type of community.

“It’s unfortunate that it’s true, but it also means that we can also provide a really strongly united front against it,” Forringer-Beal said.

She said the strong cooperation in the small discussions and the insightful input show there is a strong desire to change the negative stereotypes of Black men on campus.

Telling the Untold Truth marked the first time HEADS organized a sexual awareness event, and Tavernier said there is a good chance that it won’t be the last.

“It will definitely create a stronger sense of community here at the University,” he said.

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