Students discuss race, sexuality


Female students of color shared their personal experiences with the intersection of race and sexuality, sharing personal anecdotes and feelings.

The Women Speak on Sex and Race, hosted by the Women’s Student Assembly Thursday night at Ground Zero, was the second event of Sex Week.

Elizabeth Soriano, a junior majoring in communication, talked about racism she experienced on campus. Soriano spoke about how her roommate made a negative comment about her for being of Mexican descent.

Racy language · Junior Elizabeth Soriano, a communication major, speaks to students about her sexuality and race Thursday at Ground Zero. — Maddy Campion | Daily Trojan

Racy language · Junior Elizabeth Soriano, a communication major, speaks to students about her sexuality and race Thursday at Ground Zero. — Maddy Campion | Daily Trojan

“That was one of my anxieties from my first semester here,” Soriano said. “Because aside from that, I had a lot of internalized racism. Coming from a close-knit community, I felt more alone here, and truthfully, my first semester here was one of the most terrifying experiences.”

WSA Co-Director Taylor Markey said she wanted this event to be a space for all those who had things to say and stories to share, but never previously could.

“Often women of color are marginalized, and we wanted to give women of color a space to talk about their specific lived experiences with sexuality so that we can have a more intersectional week,” Markey said.

Rikiesha Pierce, a senior majoring in sociology and the first in her family to go to college, said the transition to college was made more difficult because she felt that few people understood her background. The value of the discourse, she said, would be instrumental in helping others learn and, in some cases, cope.

“It’s important that we speak, because too often we’ve been left to deal with our silence,” Pierce said. “It’s definitely very inspiring and eye opening, [about] a lot of things that a good population here doesn’t know about in terms of sexuality and race.”

Savannah LeJeune-Stodieck, a junior majoring in film and television production, believed the event could be a meaningful experience for the entire student body.

Markey said Sex Week responds to narratives regarding on our race and sexuality.

“This week is about women and men being able to talk back to the sexual culture at USC,” Markey said. “[It’s about the] fight against this narrative that we have to accept this culture that already exists and react to it passively. [We want to] instead give people an opportunity and a space to say something that can maybe start a new culture that is formed by the people who are a part of it.”

Sarah Tillery, a junior majoring in English (Creative Writing) , was inspired by the candid and heartfelt nature of the talk.

“I think it’s absolutely wonderful that people would share their feelings, deepest thoughts and insecurities with strangers,” Tillery said. “Events like these are very helpful and empowering for everyone.”

The events for this year’s Sex Week was inspired by a post on the USC Compliments group on Facebook. This year focuses on celebrating four days of healthy hookups, femininity and sex positivity, Markey said. The event emphasized the importance of finding ways to sexually express oneself and being a part of creating a sexual culture rather than simply reacting to it.

  • toph

    Former roommate*

  • Gabe

    Did any blue or purple women speak?