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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Politics of “Being Too Fast”: Policing Urban Black Adolescent Female Bodies, Sexual Agency, Desire, and Academic Resilience

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 3.0 license

Culturally produced dominant representations and discourses mark low-income, urban black girls’ bodies, thoughts, and actions as “fast (i.e. sexually promiscuous). This punitive label enforces regulatory systems where the girls can be policed and reprimanded. This paper closely examines political narratives, policies, ethnographic data from focus groups with urban black Baltimorean middle school girls, and online coverage of a Baltimore City teen school sex scandal. The author uses an intersectional analysis to highlight how urban black girls are often excluded from stigma-free sexual citizenship and bodily agency. The author suggests that national and local Baltimorean public policies have limited the girls’ access to key resources such as health clinics, SBHC, and after school programs that focus on teen pregnancy and sexual development. This coupled with community stigma and silences surrounding romance, desire, and sex, may place the girls at higher risk to make unhealthy and un-pleasurable sexual decisions that negatively affect their positive social development. The author wonders if new media will provide new ways of speaking back to political narratives, structural inequalities, and public policies that aim to hinder clack youth’s access to sexual citizenship and bodily agency.

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