Call for Submissions: Sex Crimes against Black Girls

full name / name of organization: 
Shantrelle P. Lewis & Yaba Amgborale Blay
contact email: 


Sex Crimes against Black Girls ~ The Anthology

Edited by:

Shantrelle P. Lewis & Yaba A. Blay

About the Anthology:

Historically regarded as matters private to our community, those, that if put in plain sight, might inadvertently corroborate White supremacist imaginations of Black pathology, sex crimes against Black girls are the dirtiest of our laundry – nasty, gaping wounds too infected to heal on their own. Whether at levels macro, when children in war torn countries like Uganda, Liberia, and Sierra Leone are forced to take on roles as sex slaves, or on the micro-level, when daughters and nieces are violated by their brothers, cousins, uncles and fathers, sex crimes against Black girls, no matter how secreted, occur every minute, of every day, around the globe. Originally inspired by Hortense Spillers' (2003) poignant essay, "'The Permanent Obliquity of an In(pha)llibly Straight': In the Time of the Daughters and the Fathers," and subsequently motivated by the overwhelming response to and success of Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation's Center for Arts and Culture Skylight Gallery's 2011 "Sex Crimes Against Black Girls" mixed media exhibition curated by Shantrelle P. Lewis, this anthology seeks to uncover realities often shrouded by racial, gender, and cultural mandates – absolute respect for elders, familial loyalty, and/or lifting and supporting the Black man – at all costs, at any expense, even one's own. Sex Crimes Against Black Girls seeks to give voice to those once silenced.

We invite writers/scholars/artists/activists of African descent, both female and male, to submit creative works that address the molestation, incest, rape, sexual assault, and sexual exploitation/oppression of Black girls (read: Black girls and women). We seek works that not only lend insight into the variety of dimensions for which sex crimes against Black girls have implications (personal, political, social, emotional…), but further challenge prospective viewers/readers to confront their own secrets, violations, painful experiences, fears, and shame. Although we are especially interested in those works that are painfully and unapologetically truthful and revealing, we are also seeking contributions that have a positive and/or hopeful tone with concrete examples of resistance and recovery. In this way, Sex Crimes Against Black Girls will both acknowledge painful realities and also strategies for self-, family-, and community-care, love and restoration. And while the book will indeed position the Black female voice as primary and authoritative, in also welcoming the Black male voice, it will present a multiplicity of realities – all valid, and all reflectively necessary for us to propel ourselves into a space of healing, growth, and empowerment – the ultimate goal of this project.


As currently conceptualized, the anthology will consist of a variety of sections, each prefaced by artwork. Each section will then include those contributions relevant to the issues/themes explored by the featured artwork. Potential issues themes include but are not limited to:

· historical/social/cultural discourse on the Black female body

· childhood sexual "exploration" (child on child)

· childhood sexual violation (adult on child)

· child sex slavery

· child pornography

· sexual assault/rape

· female victimizers

· female complacency/complicity in female sexual exploitation/oppression

· shame/silence/hiding in the aftermath

· finding/claiming voice

· community responsibility

· mending relationships

· healing and recovery


We welcome a variety of creative formats, including critical essays, personal memoirs, short fiction, and poetry.

· critical essays, personal memoirs, short fiction: 20-25 pages

· review essays (music/book/film): 10 -15 pages

· poetry– no more than 3 pages per poem and 3 poems per poet

Please submit abstracts/proposals (300-500 words), along with a brief biographical sketch (75 words or less) no later than May 16, 2011 to the editors at and include the word "submission" in the subject line. Include your abstract/proposal and bio in the body of your email as well as a Microsoft Word attachment. Submissions selected for inclusion in the final volume will be due on or before August 31, 2011. All work submitted must be original and should not have been published or under consideration elsewhere.

About the Editors:

Shantrelle P. Lewis is an independent curator of African Diasporan Art who currently serves as the Director of Public Programming and Exhibitions at the Caribbean Cultural Center Africa Diaspora Institute (CCCADI). The granddaughter of New Orleans artist, Charles Lewis and a fourth generation graduate of HBCUs, Ms. Lewis was introduced to the performing and cultural arts of African Americans by her parents who are collectors themselves. A New Orleans native, Shantrelle returned home in September 2007, after a 12-year stint on the east coast, to assist in post-Katrina revitalization efforts. For two years, she worked in the capacity of Executive Director and Curator of the McKenna Museum of African American Art. During that time, she also served as a member of the teaching faculty in the African World Studies Department at Dillard University. Having received a BS in Biology from Howard University, and an MA in African Studies from Temple University, Ms. Lewis has demonstrated a commitment to researching, documenting and preserving African Diasporan culture. Her international travels to places such as Cuba, Ghana, Nigeria, Brazil, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Spain and London have allowed her to observe the manifestation of the African aesthetic first hand. As an independent curator, Shantrelle initiates projects that are meant to incite, inspire, and shift the paradigms of their audiences. Her curatorial credits include exhibitions on a variety of topics ranging from Contemporary Haitian Art, a tribute to Betty Davis, the Haitian Revolution, The Feminine in African Sacred Traditions, and New Orleans sacred traditions. As part of her lifetime commitment to her beloved city, Shantrelle is producing and directing her first documentary The Wild Magnolia, as part of an oral history project of the Magnolia Housing Projects, which will also include a book of photography and a permanent exhibit to be housed at the site's community center.

Yaba A. Blay is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Lafayette College where she also teaches courses in Women's & Gender Studies. She received her doctorate in African American Studies and Women's Studies from Temple University. Her research interests include African cultural aesthetics and aesthetic practices, the politics of embodiment and Black identities, African feminist theory, and critical media literacy. Dr. Blay has published several essays in such publications as Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities, Jenda: A Journal of Culture and African Women's Studies, the Journal of Pan African Studies, Words. Beats. Life: The Global Journal of Hip-Hop Culture, the Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora, the Encyclopedia of African Religions, and the Encyclopedia of Africa and the Americas. In addition to her publications, she is an active editor, having edited special issues of Jenda: A Journal of Culture and African Women's Studies and the Journal of Pan African Studies, both focusing on the socio-aesthetic practice of skin bleaching in Africa and the Diaspora, as well as catalogue to the "Sex Crimes against Black Girls" exhibition at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation's Center for Arts and Culture Skylight Gallery. Dr. Blay is the recipient of a 2010 Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grant through which she will publish a portrait documentary entitled The Other Side of Blackness, which explores the intersection of skin color politics and negotiations of Black identity.

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