The timing of this post is prompted by a discussion currently occurring on Fetlife (major social network site for the kink community). A site member called out the racism which occurs on the site and has prompted a lot of discussion about race and racism in the kink world. As someone who dates primarily Black men, I wanted to way in on some issues.
Loving Black Men
I love Black men. I do. Since my ex- and I split, I have almost exclusively dated Black men (I have played with others, but dating is different). This has led to dozens of conversations about race, sex, D/s, culture, and the unique issues which arise for people in interracial relationships.
Why Do I Love Black Men?
The first thing I am generally asked is, “Why do I prefer dating Black men?” The assumption is either I “love big dicks” or that I somehow have fetishized Black skin.
For me, my dating preference arises more from a cultural connection. Everyone has some culture they resonate with more than others. It may be your own culture, it may be an ancient culture, it may be a foreign culture, but we all have a preference. I have heard lots of explanations for these preferences: philosophical connection (e.g., the communal focus of some Asians cultures feel more “right” to a person than the individualist focus of the West), past life connection, a grandparent came from a different culture and had a special meaning in your life, living abroad, and several other reasons.
For me, I feel a strong connection to American Black culture. My favorite authors have long been Langston Hughes and James Baldwin. I love the works of these men. Hughes’ poetry never fails to move me more deeply than anything else I have read. Baldwin’s “Letter to My Nephew on the 100 Anniversary of Emancipation” has to be one of the most powerful works I have ever read (closely followed by the opening letter in Stone Butch Blues by Feinberg).
I resonate with imagery of Black artists. The latest work by a photographer of her posing at former slave auction sites in NYC floored me (see here:https://news.artnet.com/in-brief/artist-poses-nude-…. The imagery used by Kara Walker and her shadow puppet films reach something in my core. The images of Black America by Earlie Hudnal are paralleled by very few photographers.
It is not because I have studies Black artists more than others. I grew up going to museums every weekend and continued that when living in NYC and near DC. I am pretty art literate. I enjoy the abstract painters in the 1940s, the images of Dorothy Walker, Walker Evans, Steichen and Steiglitz are all loves of mine. But nothing resonates with me as deeply as the imagery of Kara Walker and Earlie Hudnal.
Additionally, I spent an enormous amount of time studying racial identity formation in graduate school. My dissertation (all 700+ pages of the thing) was an exploration of how people’s social and civic identities are formed by exposure to multicultural education. I spent as much time reading and learning about Mexican culture, Caribbean cultures, Asian cultures (with focus on Chinese and Japanese immigrants in America) as I did Black culture. I still resonate more with Black culture.
The other reason I tend to connect with Black men is that, by necessity, they move through the world differently than White men. Striped of the privilege and safety of White skin, Black men are forces to recognize some of the inequalities and injustices in society that White skin protects one from. My work for the last decade has been specifically aimed at addressing inequalities and unrecognized privilege (and the harm that brings). I get tired of having conversations with dates about the existence of gender, race, wealth, and sexual orientation inequalities. I have many fewer of these with Black men then any other group (though these conversations are not eliminated).
Am I a Member of “Queens of Spades?”
The fact that my partners are most Black men has led a lot of people to ask me if I belong to groups on Fetlife that glorify sleeping with Black guys. I am not. Here is why.
I love Black men. I would not belong to a group that fetishizes Black male sexuality. The cultural myth of the hypersexual Black man was a primary reason for lynchings. There are countless incidents where a Black man was accused of “raping” a White woman (the consensual nature of most of these encounters was never established) or even just “looking” at a White woman led to thousands of violent, horrible deaths.
Hypersexualization of Black women was a primary justification for raping Black women. It was a key “fact” documented by slave holders as a reason for making Black women slaves serve as sex slaves for “entertainment.” These encounters could never be consensual as the women were owned and controlled by their slave owners.
These myth’s continue to permeate American culture. It fills porn, Craigslist ads, and Fetlife groups. There are tons of people looking for a BBC (big, black cock) to play out a cuckold fantasy. Ads for “Black studs” contain parallel language to ads for “breeding slaves” prior to the Civil War. Many of the couples looking for a “BBC” for the night have completely fetishized having the woman fucked by an anonymous Black man. The man has no value beyond his skin color and cock size.
White women who sleep with Black men are often “marked” or “Blacklisted.” Many White men are intimidated to follow a Black man as a lover. It is assumed that cock size and sexual appetites of Black men cannot be equaled. If you have any question about how much this has permeated American thought, Family Guy has an entire episode about Lois’ ex-boyfriend who was Black. It is 22 minutes of jokes about BBC and “ruining” Lois for other lovers.
All of these things end up devaluing Black men and reducing them to caricatures. We live in a world where race makes an enormous difference in access to the power structure, health care, safety, and economic security. By any statistic you can find, Black Americans are worse off than their White counterparts. Racism is real, present and literally killing Americans. Contributing to a culture that continues to degrade people and utilize language of slave holders can never be loving and caring.
Racism and Fetlife
This week on Fetlife there is a large thread about race and its impact on members of this site. I read through about 40 of the comments. Even when a member of our kink community expresses being upset about the overt racism in our community, there were too many people jumping on the bandwagon to say the offended member was “too sensitive,” or that by being offended and calling out the racist tendencies of parts of our community was “giving them too much power,” and they should “just ignore” the harm caused.
As a community we profess a value in calling out abuse, non-consensual behavior, and not doing harm (hurt, we are good with). Racism and racial slurs are harmful. Language has a lot of power. Reducing a person to a single characteristic (race) and devaluing their humanity clearly falls into our definition of harm. Racism is not consensual behavior (race play is another matter). We need to call out this harm and call out our members who perpetuate it online.