A Brooklyn nonprofit has a plan to end sexual violence for black women and girls, and a new grant is helping make that effort possible.

 

More than 60 percent of black women and girls experience some form of sexual violence or assault before the age of 18, according to a study done by the nonprofit, Black Women’s Blueprint.

 

“That’s over half — and before the age of 18 means child sexual abuse,” said Sevonna Brown, director of communications and gender justice programming with Black Women’s Blueprint. “We definitely support survivors where they are, but this is [also] something we want to prevent. We’re doing a lot to consider how we can get ahead of and prevent that.”

 

Black Women’s Blueprint this week received a $50,000 grant from Raliance, a national collaborative focused on “ending sexual violence in one generation.”

 

With that money, the nonprofit will expand its Emerging Sons project, which focuses on connecting with black men and boys, and their specific role in ending rape culture and sexual violence.

 

“We do a number of programs through art making, barbershop conversations, ending child sexual abuse prevention programs,” Brown said. “And a lot of community-based dialogue. We have conversations with fathers — and mothers — who want to teach their sons consent culture.”

Emerging Sons also goes into schools, from elementary schools up to college campuses, in order to have conversations around sexual violence with men of all ages.

Especially in the time of #MeToo, it’s important to have these tough conversations with everyone — not just those who have experienced assault, these activists say.

To Raliance, which brings together three large nonprofits (the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault) it’s about changing our culture by getting everyone involved, especially young people who can set the course for the future. 

“We have to stop looking at the survivor to be responsible for stopping the victimization,” said Julie Patrick, Raliance national partners liaison. “It’s on all of us to look out for each other.”

Raliance began issuing grants to nonprofits focused on ending sexual violence in 2016. It was kicked off with seed funding from the National Football League and these grants come from private funding.

Black Women’s Blueprint was one of 11 organizations that received a total of $515,000 this week, and even among those chosen, it stands out for its focus on prevention.

“They’re trying to address a population of young men who could be as risk to cause harm, and definitely wanting to intervene before that ever happens,” Patrick said. “That’s a very courageous conversation that speaks to ‘What is black masculinity? How do we distrust those generational cycles of violence? How do we make this [change] of, for and by the community?’” 

Learn more about Black Women's Blueprint at blackwomensblueprint.org and mamablack.org