Valerie Klinker, 19, a participant in the YO! Youth Outlook media project, shares her views on the recent gang rape of a 15-year-old in Richmond, CA:

I was so hurt and heartbroken to hear a beautiful 15-year-old teenage year old girl, who could have been your sister, cousin, daughter, or even a best friend, was raped. Not only was she raped, but she was gang raped, beat up, and robbed at her Homecoming dance.

This brought tears to my eyes. Just thinking of her age and what they could have done to her makes my blood boil. At 15, she is just a baby. It disgusts me that people took pictures of this girl getting raped…
Rape is a big issue in our society because it has occurred for thousands of years. Rape dates back to the early American days, when Native Americans, Blacks, and Mexicans all got raped by white men, who also stole their land.

I know plenty of women who have been raped. To protect themselves, now they’re much more careful. They stay strapped up and watch their surroundings. It’s like safe drinking or having a small child; the way you would watch others is the way you’re watch out for yourself. Young women shouldn’t be naïve and assume rape wouldn’t ever happen to them. Don’t be the only girl in a crowd full of boys who are drinking. It’s just not safe.

Video commentary by Valerie Klinker and Boy QB Young Woman Raped in Richmond from yoblogger on Vimeo.

Boys are not really aware or concerned with rape because fewer boys get raped than girls. Also, gangs traditionally rape girls to initiate them into their gang, if they choose to get jumped in; meaning getting jumped and fighting back to get in the gang. Even if they fight back, they still get raped sometimes.

If I had witnessed the Richmond rape incident, I would have broken it up. I would have been the black sheep in the crowd and said, “This is wrong.” I would have notified someone, or perhaps I would have lied and said the police were coming even if they weren’t. I probably wouldn’t have called the police to report the rape because as a young woman of color, the police don’t believe what I say. Maybe if I was a middle-class white women, scared for her life, the police would arrive immediately.

Young people are desensitized to violence and sex because our generation has seen tons of this stuff while growing up. One reason why so many people watched this Richmond rape is because they are young, curious, naïve, and still trying to learn about sex. Like TV tells us, sex sells. People always want to know more about sex.

Rape victims I know personally usually don’t let it ruin their lives. They try not to dwell on the incident because they don’t want it to ruin their lives. They try and stay positive and surround themselves with people that love them.



This youth perspective on the recent Richmond, CA gang rape is part of a series produced by Youth Outlook, a project of New America Media. This work was originally published Oct. 29, 2009. Republished and reformatted as a series on Oakland Local with permission.

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