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April 18, 2018

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Combination Honours BA in Psychology and Youth and Children's Studies

I am currently in my final term at Laurier Brantford - I am only a few months away from successfully obtaining a Combination Honours BA in Psychology and Youth and Children's Studies. Thanks to the help, support, and encouragement of Dr. Vanessa Oliver, I was able to take a personal experience and explore it through the lens of academia. In Dr. Oliver's class, Youth Sexuality, I was given the freedom to engage with the course materials as well as real-world examples which made me feel comfortable enough to base my research on something that has impacted me personally - the hyper-sexualization of Black women.

Choosing to base my research on something I feel intrinsically connected to was very difficult at times; there were many instances in which I had to take breaks and debrief myself from the revelations I was learning. One of the most shocking things I learned in my research was that while Black men were being bought and sold into the slave trade during colonialism (a very well-known fact), Black women were also being bought and sold into the sex trade - something I had no knowledge of prior to this project. I found this important because it was one of the first instances in which Black women were stripped of their senses of selves, and reduced to their sexuality so that others were able to profit off them. This set the tone for the experiences of hyper-sexualization that many Black Women face in contemporary society. It is important that we eradicate these limited depictions of Black women so that young Black females are able to develop into whoever they would like without feeling societal pressure to conform to unhealthy stereotypes.

I hope that my research affects many people because it will take many people to contribute towards the culture shift needed to diminish these stereotypes. I feel as though it is important for anyone who interacts with youth to be aware of the consequences of perpetuating these stereotypes so that they may be able to recognize the importance of pushing counter-narratives for Black youth.

I also think that my research is important for people in the media to be aware of so that they do not unknowingly or subconsciously feed into the depictions that youth in this media-obsessed generation rely upon so much. Most importantly, I hope that my research allows me to continue to be an advocate for Black youth who are often told who they are before they get the opportunity to decide for themselves.

Laurier Brantford hosted its second annual Undergraduate Research Celebration Week called Academic, Creative, and Engaged Research Showcase (ACERS) March 12-16, 2018. Jahdya Williams displayed a research poster on March 15, 2018 as part of this showcase.

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