Sexuality in black and white: data from 783 undergraduates.

Author:Knox, David,

The campaign of Barak Obama for the President of the United States revived awareness of the great racial divide in the United States. During the campaign, a television journalist asked a white male (who was wearing a hat with the Confederate flag) in South Carolina for his thoughts on Obama. His reply, "there will never be a black man voted President by this state." Maybe not. (But other states gave Obama full support and his ascendancy to the Presidency became a reality).

Behind the racial prejudice of the South Carolina man's Obama prediction is ignorance about Blacks. Our society continues to be segregated by residence, religion and education. Blacks and whites still live in different areas, attend different churches, and school in different universities (while both races may attend the same college, there are still "Black" colleges - Howard, Morehouse, Grambling). These divisions perpetuate cross racial misunderstanding.

The purpose of this study was to increase what is known about the respective opinions of Black and white undergraduates on a wide variety of relationship and sexual issues. Previous researchers have largely ignored racial differences. Netting and Burnett (2005) reported on twenty years of Canadian student sexual behavior research but provided no data on racial differences. Data which compares Black and white students are old (Belcastro, 1985) or focused on adolescents. Barone et al. (1966) included Blacks and whites in their study of adolescent sexual behavior but some of their sample were as young as 11. Exploring Black Sexuality by Staples (2006) was an attempt to update research in this area. However, Holmes (2007) noted that while the book has strengths, the degree to which the book is scholarly is questioned noting that "observations are not linked to data" (p. 398).

Rather than the traditional review of literature to begin the paper, we begin with the sample and methodology section. This is followed by the findings section which tie the new data to the existing literature. We end with sections on limitations and implications.

This research is an attempt to provide current comparative data on Black and white sexuality. While these are presented as "racial" differences, we recognize that biologically, there is only one living race of human beings, but there are many ethnic groups. Neanderthal, Java Human, Peking Human, and other extinct groups of Homo sapiens were races. Native Americans, Africans, Asians, and Europeans are not races. They are ethnic groups. Sociologically, race refers to shared physical characteristics that are defined as socially significant. Obama's being black means nothing except that color is identified as having a social meaning. In this article we use the term race because ethnic group is less often used. However, in so doing, we are not suggesting there are biological differences between Blacks and whites, only socially defined differences. Also, in this study we use the term Black because this is the term used on the survey instrument. Respondents were asked to check "I regard myself as" White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, Biracial, and Other. Hence, in the material to follow we use the term Black because it is not specific to African-American.

Sample and Methodology

This study was exploratory - to find out what effect race (independent variable) had on the dependent variables of one's top life value (e.g. financial security over happy marriage), desire to marry, sexual value (e.g. absolutism, relativism, hedonism)...

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