1 Mich. J. Gender & L. 81 (1993)
Prostitution: Where Racism & (and) Sexism Intersect

handle is hein.journals/mjgl1 and id is 87 raw text is: PROSTITUTION: WHERE RACISM
& SEXISM INTERSECTt
Vednita 7klson*
Black women find themselves in a unique and extremely difficult posi-
tion in our society. They are forced to deal with the oppression that
arises from being Black in a white-supremacist culture and the oppres-
sion that arises from being female in a male-supremacist culture. In
order to examine the experience of being Black and female, this paper
attempts to describe that very difficult, tight space where Black women
attempt to survive-that space where racism and sexism intersect.
Late in the spring of 1992, America was glued to the television
watching East Los Angeles go up in flames in response to a courtroom
verdict that acquitted four white police officers of the savage beating of
an African-American man.1 When the verdict was handed down, white
America learned what Black Americans have always known: who counts,
and who does not. From one end of the country to the other, whites
and Blacks marched together to protest the brutality of the L.A. police
force and the racism of the criminal justice system that protected and
exonerated the officers. Of course, I too was outraged.
Yet, while liberal America paraded banners and sported T-shirts
reading Justice for Rodney, while Black radicals and academics alike
proclaimed that the Black male was an endangered species in
t   This paper is essentially the speech that Ms. Nelson presented at the Michigan
Journal of Gender & Law Symposium entitled Prostitution: From Academia to
Activism, held on October 31, 1992, at the University of Michigan Law School.
Most of its speechlike characteristics have been preserved so as to maintain its
authenticity.
* Vednita Nelson is Advocacy Director of Women Hurt in Systems of Prostitution
Engaged in Revolt (WHISPER), Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has extensive experi-
ence working with incarcerated women and women-in-transition by providing
individual advocacy, employment counseling, and emotional support to women
reentering the community. Currently, she facilitates WHISPER's Education-
al/Support groups for survivors of prostitution. Ms. Nelson serves on the Women of
Color Health Alternatives Network and has conducted workshops at state confer-
ences organized by the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Minne-
sota Coalition for Battered Women.
i. People v. Powell, No. BA035498 (Super. Ct. Los Angeles County, Cal. 1992).

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