Sex and the Single Guy at Historically Black Colleges

Kevin Cox, a junior at Morehouse College in Atlanta, talks to Farai Chideya about sex, love and the ever-charged relationship between black men and black women on today's black college campuses.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

I'm Farai Chideya and this NEWS & NOTES.

We just had a talk about what life is like, sex and all, for gay and lesbian students at historically black colleges and universities, but what about the straight life and straight sex? Every college has its unwritten rules for love, sex, everything in between.

Here to give us the inside scoop on dating at HBCUs is Kevin Cox. He's going to be a junior at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and he is the son of NPR's Tony Cox. Welcome, Kevin.

Mr. KEVIN COX (Student, Morehouse College): I thank you for having me here today.

CHIDEYA: All right. Well, you know that your mom and dad are going to be listening to everything you say, so I have to responsible.

Mr. COX: Yes.

CHIDEYA: So Morehouse is one of the jewels of the HBCU system.

Mr. COX: Yes.

CHIDEYA: And I'm just going to go straight to the chase. You've got this dearth of datable black men in America.

Mr. COX: Yes.

CHIDEYA: You are guys are the best and the brightest. Do you get way too many offers that you can't refuse?

Mr. COX: Actually, while most people would assume that being at an all-male school it would be difficult to have a lot of women being at all-male school, but they don't understand that you have Spelman College and Clark Atlanta literally within walking distance. The only thing that separates Spelman from Morehouse is a parking lot, so it's very easy to walk over there. And Spelman, being an all-female school, I mean, they're just as available as we are at Morehouse. And Clark being probably about 60 percent all-female, most of the male dominancy in that area comes from Morehouse, so it's definitely available if they need to.

CHIDEYA: Does that instill a player mentality where it's like, well, you've got all these women available to you?

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHIDEYA: I'm serious.

Mr. COX: There are, I mean, there are a couple of, I'm sure, of Morehouse men and as well as Clark men - college students as a whole who have those tendencies to - you see a numerous amount of women and you can't decide on which one, and I'm sure there are some who try to have more than one at one time.

CHIDEYA: What messages do you get from the leadership? Do they teach you about being a responsible man in the personal sense as well as a professional?

Mr. COX: Oh, definitely. Definitely. Being at a historically black college, you definitely have both aspects of the world, where you have your educational side as well as upcoming as a black man in the world and the challenges that you face, and coming together as a black community and knowing about your brotherhood as well as a sisterhood. Like I said, we have Spelman right there. And just working together and knowing that you're going to have networking as the key, and not only that but you need to just understand the history of the African-American community. Mainly our ethnicity - being at a historically black college, you focus more on the African descent. And you have a respectful understanding of what your ancestors have been through, and it's almost your duty to be a leader today and stand up and keep the legacy going.

CHIDEYA: So when you think about the different influences on how Morehouse men view sex - you've got music videos, celebrities, your academic leaders, your parents and family, and of course the women themselves who send messages to you. What's most important in that mix?

Mr. COX: I think it would be that though they probably do listen to it, they need to just be aware and understand that most of the songs today are just degrading, especially towards women. And as strong, black men in the community, they need to be aware that they are the ones that the youth look up to. And they need to be a voice for the community and be aware that they need - in order for there to be a change, it has to start with them. And Morehouse men especially are the ones to definitely take that role and start it.

CHIDEYA: When you think about safe sex, I mean this - I'm asking you to really guesstimate here. And if you don't feel comfortable, then just let me know.

Mr. COX: Okay.

CHIDEYA: First of all, out of the men on campus, how many do you think are actively having sex at least once a month, just from how you talk? And two, how many of those do you think are having safe sex?

Mr. COX: That's a tough number. I couldn't even tell you. It's a lot. It's a lot, yeah.

CHIDEYA: So you think most of the guys are having sex. At least, you know, half?

Mr. COX: I'm sure half. Yeah, definitely.

CHIDEYA: What's the vibe on safe sex? Are people protecting themselves?

Mr. COX: Yes, they are. And we have a lot of events and seminars and guest speakers who come continuously through our school just talking about safe sex and always wrapping it up and protection. You have AIDS testing so, you know, they definitely keep you aware of the viruses and things that are out thereā€¦

CHIDEYA: That's interesting. They have AIDS testing on campus, like at campus health?

Mr. COX: Yes. They have AIDS testing. You might have AIDS week where you have the daily seminars and sessions on just AIDS awareness and fighting against it.

CHIDEYA: What do you love the most about dating at an HBCU?

That's tough. I would probably say - I don't even know.

CHIDEYA: Well, just, you know, I'll put it this way. And we're almost out of time, so you're almost out of the hot seat. But I went to a college where there were very few black men available. You are in the horn of plenty. What do you enjoy about being there?

Mr. COX: It is probably the environment, you know. Being from Los Angeles, it's usually all spread 25-25-25-25 throughout ethnicities. But you go to a historically black college and it's like 99.9 percent African-American, so the atmosphere is great. It's a great atmosphere.

CHIDEYA: I'm sure it is. Well, Kevin Cox, thank you so much for joining us.

Mr. COX: Thank you.

CHIDEYA: I hope I didn't ruin your day, because I was asking you some tough questions.

Mr. COX: Oh, no. Not at all

CHIDEYA: That was Kevin Cox. He's going to be a junior at Morehouse College in Atlanta. And he joined me here at NPR West. He is, of course, the son of the great NPR Tony Cox.

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