A Mid Summer Night

Friday, 26 June 2009 10:09 Written by  Lisa R. Brown

It’s the first day of summer and the sun is shining so brightly that the clouds are getting jealous. You’re walking downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue, doing a little window shopping and hoping to catch some great sales. You’re feeling confident with your Dereon denim mini dress; you know you’re sure to attract some attention. Just as you’re about to head into TJ Maxx, you catch the eye of this mocha brown complexion, hazel-eyed cutie standing off to the side with his guys. He’s checking you and your lovely lady lumps out.

 He walks over and asks for your number. You hesitate only slightly and decide ‘Hey, why not?’ A few weeks later, you find yourself at his house, in his bedroom with your pink Vickie Secrets on. He reaches in the drawer and discovers he’s out of Trojans. He tells you he’s safe; you can trust him. He doesn’t mess around with a lot of girls anyway. You are a bit hesitant but decide to go through with it. Besides, he’s hot and well, you’re hotter at the moment.

How many times have we all been in this predicament, trying to decide whether to care for our health or risk everything for a temporary moment of passion? It’s a situation a lot of black women face on a regular basis, especially younger women. Having unprotected sex is unfortunately not a fad and doesn’t look like it’s going to phase out any time soon. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are rapidly destroying black communities –– however all hope is not lost. There are prevention measures black women can utilize to stay safe this summer.

Columbia College junior and acting major Shayna Washington, 20, is definitely not a stranger to this situation. Washington is the mother of 3 and 4-year-old boys, Kenyon and Dominic. She had them when she was only 15 and 16.

She said that many times, black women may choose not to plead with their partners to use protection because they may feel like asking them could make them mad or worse.

“It may cause them to get mad at us and think that we are the ones cheating on them, or it may just be the simple fact that, because I love him and I know nothing is wrong with him and he doesn’t cheat, why should we use protection? We have been together long enough, so what’s the point?” she explained. “And then a lot of women just don’t think about it because they are so in the moment, and asking a man to wear protection is like insulting them and at the same time ruining the moment.”

Gladys*, 47, feels similarly.

“They’re scared of losing their spouse, because men have a tendency to say they can’t react with those things,” she said. “[But] I don’t care about what you’re talking about or what you can’t react too. You have to stay firm and worry about what’s good for you and not worry about their feelings because if they’re going to wander off, they’re going to wander off. So whether or not they’re thinking about protecting you or not, you can’t worry about that. I think we have a fear of being by ourselves, and of our men leaving us. We can’t be fearful of whether the person is going to be with us or not.”

Amy Dumas, 21, a law office secretary, said, “In a lot of relationships, a woman is so stuck on making sure her man is satisfied in any way possible, that she doesn’t want to bring up anything that she may feel would make him go astray.”

Dumas herself has been in a predicament where she knew she should’ve used protection but didn’t.

“I believe the only reason I didn’t use protection is because of the same reason I stated earlier, I wanted to give him what he wanted and that’s what it was, no protection!”

With all of the drama dating, sex, and new relationships can bring, how does a girl decipher who’s out to get her heart and who’s out to get her booty?

“Well, truthfully speaking, I do have a big booty so it’s hard for me to know the difference, but I guess you can really tell in the way they approach you,” Dumas laughs.

“You can tell just a little,” Washington said. “It’s all about the conversation that you have with them. When dudes approach me, I talk to them as much as I can to see where their head is at and what they are doing with their lives.”

Following years of steady decline, gonorrhea infections among African Americans increased by more than five percent from 1997 to 1999, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Today, black women account for over 71.8 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases in 29 U.S. states. Blacks represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, yet accounted for almost half of the Chlamydia cases and a staggering 70 percent of gonorrhea cases reported in 2007, according to the CDC.

Washington is not surprised with these statistics.

“I did know that,” she said. “I believe that the cause of that may be for two reasons. One may be because a lot of women don’t take care of their bodies. They sleep with any and everybody and don’t keep themselves clean. The other reason may be because a lot of women are still with men who cheat on them constantly, and they still stay and have sex with them.”

Gladys’ viewpoint was along the same lines.

“They’re not taking it very seriously,” she said. “They trust who they’re with when they shouldn’t be and when they need to be more careful of who their partners are. They’re too trustworthy, rather than looking at the person’s reactions and the actions they commit.”

Geneisha Carpenter, 29, also believes there’s an issue with this as well.

“To be honest, I think that’s kind of dumb,” she said. “Even in my teenage years when I was having sex, I always made it clear that, 'no glove, no love.'” So, in other words, if you ain’t got it, we ain’t doing it. If I’m in a relationship with you and I felt that we were mature enough to go to that level, I felt like well, if we’re going to do this, then we’re going to do it right. I’m not trying to get an STD. Honestly, I really don’t understand why that’s not discussed more beforehand. I think that some people live in the moment too much. They’re just being irresponsible.”  

Summertime seems to be high time for random sexual encounters for a lot of men and women. Full-fledged relationships just don’t seem to be what’s hot during that season.

“Because it’s the summertime, women are outside with basically nothing on and the same goes for men,” Washington said. “You are automatically attracted to a physical feature when you see someone, and in this day and age it’s all about their body type. For a lot of people, when you first see someone who you are attracted to, the thought of having sex with this person runs across your mind, and many times we let it do just that –– run.”

During April, Minority Health Month and STD Awareness Month, the Illinois Department of Public Health teams up with numerous organizations to address health disparities in Illinois, especially the disproportionate number of minorities impacted by STDs. The department is helping to sponsor minority health education and screening events during April, many of which focus on STD education and awareness.

“Although we have made advances in reducing health disparities among minorities, we need to continue to work to eliminate these disparities,” State Public Health Director Damon T. Arnold said. “Statistics show minorities are heavily impacted by STDs, which is one reason numerous Minority Health Month events are focusing on education and awareness of STD/HIV/AIDS.”

Arnold shared his plan to resolve these devastating facts.

“By changing risky behaviors, we can turn around this alarming trend, stop the suffering and save lives.”


* Name changed at request of source.

Photography by GMO Photographer, Billy Montgomery.

Lisa R. Brown

Lisa R. Brown

Lisa R. Brown is a 20-years-old student at Columbia College Chicago. She is majoring in Magazine Journalism and chose that field of study because she has always loved reading magazines. Lisa is also a fiction writer, penning short stories, poems, lyrics and more.

She can be contacted at Lisa@glossmagazineonline.com

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