Jun 082009
 

Most of the people who post opinions contrary to mine on race play do not take the time to articulate much. As I mention, I take into account the opinions and feeling of dissenters whenever I speak or present on the topic.

I  am posting here, unedited, and with the express written permission of the original author, LeatherTBird3, the following blog entry that he additionally cross-posted in response to the Race Play Interview conducted by Andrea Plaid.

 

I have great respect for ALT’s Senior Editor Mollena Williams in many aspects and on many levels. I can certainly acknowledge and admire the courage required to broach the sensitive subject of “race play” in her recent editorial INTERVIEW BDSM and playing with Race Sr Editor Mollena Williams interviewed by Andrea Plaid Parts 1 and 2. This is a hard subject for me. My own particular brand of “PC” dictates that someone’s kink is their kink and that is to be respected. We cannot control the way we are wired or what flips that switch in us. If I were to be pilloried for all the sick shit that goes through my “heads,” it would be a worse tribulation for me than have been the inequities I have endured due to my race.

That said, whatever turns someone on, that hurts no one else, is none of my business unless I am invited to join. However, I’m just not so sure that “race play” hurts no one else. Furthermore, I am not sure if “race play” alleviates the human need to be culturally and/or ethnically superior by working through it in the realm of fantasy, or simply perpetuates this flaw in the human design that has produced the ugliest of atrocities in our history.

In part 1 of the interview Mollena suggests that fear is what makes the practice of race “play” taboo. I beg to differ with she whom I hold in high esteem. I simply do not have the heart to “play” at that which is still so real in the human psyche and is still a real live affliction suffered by many. This to me is like picking at a wound that you know is infected. It is like giving children toy guns to pretend to shoot each other while bombarding them with images of feigned brutality and bloodshed and then wondering why we live in an increasingly violent society.

There is a paradoxical dichotomy within me that comes part and parcel with my African-American heritage. It is the need to learn the lessons, reap the benefits and garner the strength that seethes within my culture without dragging along the anger spawned of the pain, despair, degradation and indignities which are linked inexorably with being black in America for my generation and the generations before me. Starting with not knowing from which African nation and culture the African contingent of my family actually came from, to being the target of racial epithets right here on our beloved ALT and having the powers that be fail to enforce their own rules regarding racial attacks, my race, my family and I have fought to attain this small and tenuous measure of equality.

My job as a human is to distill the power and strength of character that can be derived from a culture achieving this new-found equality while casting aside the bitter dregs of anger which can only impede further progress despite its justification. The struggle is to identify with my African-American heritage without being defined by it. The struggle to be “just a man” while both holding on to and letting go of the experience upon which that man is built. Many have died and suffered to make this paradox possible. It took quite a bit of soul searching to come to these conclusions and I will not have that which we have struggled for generation to attain reduced to a sex toy.

Mo goes on to say that her pussy is not interested in uplifting the race. I am not trying to “hate” on Mo but admitting freely to thinking with her genitals on issues of such import supports racist stereotypes and smacks of the “I’m gonna get mine,” slave culture mentality that continues to plague our proud race. I know that Mo was trying to be humorous but this statement is akin to a patriot who is willing to sellout his country for a blow job.

Miss Williams further suggests that the subjugation of a race or culture is a part of human nature; an assertion with which I am prepared to agree. I would even go one step further as to say that Dominance and submission is a part of our animal nature; That part of us that so many wish to deny and yet never can quell. We as humans are the only creatures on this planet with the intellect to govern the instincts we have found to be ineffective, effectively bringing about and guiding our own intellectual evolution. It is this need to rule our own passions that has spawned the concepts of law and morality.

The overwhelming majority of the world’s governments have deemed racial discrimination to be unlawful and amoral and for good reason. To play with race in this fashion is to spit in the face of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and the thousands of black soldiers who fought in American wars as men only to come “home” to be treated as they were less than other men who did not do as much for their country. Abolition of racial and cultural discrimination is the only way to purge it from society. To make a game out of our on going struggle for sexual satisfaction is to make a mockery of all efforts toward that end.


In Strength, Honor, and Humility,
LeatherTbird

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  14 Responses to ““Race Play: It NOT a Game:” A dissenting viewpoint.”

  1. Couldn’t the same thing be said of ANY woman as a sub? Perpetuating a stereotype of being subservient to men? I do not wish to downplay or dismiss the dangers and importance of fighting racism, but by this logic, unless the sub is a straight-white-male, no reference to their race or sex (can’t call a sub Bitch!) can be allowed. I don’t buy it.

  2. While I respect LeatherTbird’s comments, I would ask that is there any part of the BDSM scene that cannot be interpreted as being the continuation of a stereotype and or previously held cultural norm.

    He uses the analogies of picking at a wound, and or the use of toy guns, and I would counter that sometimes the only way an infected wound will heal is by exposing it and ridding it of the toxins held in place by the encapsulating scab. As to the kids with guns reference, I would say that if there is explanation, and understanding of reality versus fantasy, that it can be just fun and games without lending itself to greater violence.

    Personal responsibility and knowledge/understanding are paramount in the world, and especially within the ‘lifestyle.’ Someone running amok thinking only with their genitals in regards to raceplay is just as dangerous as someone that grabs a bullwhip for the first time and uses it in a dungeon, someone is going to get hurt.

  3. we are in a New Dawn…. and we still can’t dump the baggage, that was’nt ours to begin with, at the small claims desk on the
    way out to our 40 acres and a mule muliplex…. when it comes to race…. they ain’t no play…… for all the races that played that
    game on all the races…. it will be the bane of us all….. one should
    be able to leave that mindset in the trash… it gains nothing for no
    one….. and since karma picks up the rest….. it pays to be real…

    lamesabassman…… dont start none, wont be none….

  4. It’s sex. It’s therapy. It’s fun. It’s all that and more rolled into one. Get over it, dude.

  5. I have a deep abiding respect for anyone who will engage in this conversation. I have a deep abiding love for Mo. I believe that Mo is inadvertently “uplifting the race”. There are few societal ways in which we can consensually “play” at being slaves. Lets face it, the actual “slavery” that we all carry the burden of is not something that we actually experienced so much as we are experiencing the “fallout”. The rare opportunity to EXPERIENCE IT and if possible, Heal the Wounds is brave, terrifying and threatening to those who have either moved past the pain or who live in it so deeply that they can’t visualize any way through short of reparations. From just the African American perspective, having the courage to step into the actual shackles of those chained before you and knowing what we know, healing the pain is one that will not only pull up deep and personal shit for the participants, but will undoubtedly affect those who witness it. It is the rare scene in which the participants might even be responsible not just for their own “aftercare” but for that of those who have to bear witness. It is the scene in which “being a switch” comes with all matter of implications unlike most other play. It is a scene in which the Toppiest Dominant is publicly exposed to their dark closet and may not necessarily be able to control rage, fear, anger and emotions that don’t have words in the English language. The most subbmissive sub suddenly wants to snatch the single tail and beat ALL Masters. The very terms “Master” and “slave” can be made to sour on the tongues of those who up to that point go blithely through their “play” with their usual purpose. I understand the strain that this puts on the brain-in my life I have seen very few ways in which the subject of Race can be addressed so directly and I for one am curious as to what lengths the aftercare go to addressing the particulars of such scenes (does the slave get an apology-particularly in depth aftercare and love or at the very least, releasing the slave from bondage and harm…possibilities vary but the idea is to move further through it than actual slavery allowed for. I know that slavery, racial inequality, the racism that exists in modern life and more make “play” with this matter extremely sensitive. I also know that if “Change is going to Come”, it is going to require that even the way we THINK may have to change and holding onto what racism means is definitely one of those things that I would like to change in my own life, and by extension, in the world that I live in. Mollena as Soujourner Truth might be a lot to heap onto ANYONE’S capable shoulders and to suggest that she even sees herself that way would open the door for some self aggrandizing crap that she doesn’t appear to be itching for. I can’t, however, let this moment pass without reiterating that there are very few ways a nappy headed black girl can do more than just live with what comes with being a nappy headed black girl, particularly when even the image of a “preferred” slave in our own community is not even black. (One would think that THIS IS the one place where being black would come in fucking handy). The truth is that it is MORE than just a game…it is a reckoning that requires one to face down fears that run so very deep, that you really have no idea of how exactly you are going to react to “subspace” nor do you know how the Master is going to react to being in that position of power that is supported by HISTORY….I hope I am making sense with this.
    ***DJC***

  6. ok…lets try that again but break it up this time…

    I have a deep abiding respect for anyone who will engage in this conversation. I have a deep abiding love for Mo. I believe that Mo is inadvertently “uplifting the race”. There are few societal ways in which we can consensually “play” at being slaves. Lets face it, the actual “slavery” that we all carry the burden of is not something that we actually experienced so much as we are experiencing the “fallout”.

    he rare opportunity to EXPERIENCE IT and if possible, Heal the Wounds is brave, terrifying and threatening to those who have either moved past the pain or who live in it so deeply that they can’t visualize any way through short of reparations. From just the African American perspective, having the courage to step into the actual shackles of those chained before you and knowing what we know, healing the pain is one that will not only pull up deep and personal shit for the participants, but will undoubtedly affect those who witness it

    It is the rare scene in which the participants might even be responsible not just for their own “aftercare” but for that of those who have to bear witness. It is the scene in which “being a switch” comes with all matter of implications unlike most other play. It is a scene in which the Toppiest Dominant is publicly exposed to their dark closet and may not necessarily be able to control rage, fear, anger and emotions that don’t have words in the English language. The most subbmissive sub suddenly wants to snatch the single tail and beat ALL Masters. The very terms “Master” and “slave” can be made to sour on the tongues of those who up to that point go blithely through their “play” with their usual purpose. I understand the strain that this puts on the brain-in my life I have seen very few ways in which the subject of Race can be addressed so directly and I for one am curious as to what lengths the aftercare go to addressing the particulars of such scenes (does the slave get an apology-particularly in depth aftercare and love or at the very least, releasing the slave from bondage and harm…possibilities vary but the idea is to move further through it than actual slavery allowed for.

    I know that slavery, racial inequality, the racism that exists in modern life and more make “play” with this matter extremely sensitive. I also know that if “Change is going to Come”, it is going to require that even the way we THINK may have to change and holding onto what racism means is definitely one of those things that I would like to change in my own life, and by extension, in the world that I live in. Mollena as Soujourner Truth might be a lot to heap onto ANYONE’S capable shoulders and to suggest that she even sees herself that way would open the door for some self aggrandizing crap that she doesn’t appear to be itching for. I can’t, however, let this moment pass without reiterating that there are very few ways a nappy headed black girl can do more than just live with what comes with being a nappy headed black girl, particularly when even the image of a “preferred” slave in our own community is not even black. (One would think that THIS IS the one place where being black would come in fucking handy). The truth is that it is MORE than just a game…it is a reckoning that requires one to face down fears that run so very deep, that you really have no idea of how exactly you are going to react to “subspace” nor do you know how the Master is going to react to being in that position of power that is supported by HISTORY….I hope I am making sense with this.

  7. I’m sick of hearing about this race play shit! Mo, just do whatever you like to do and stop focusing on it so much. Some people think you are wrong for it, some don’t…fine, now it’s time to move on. Their are so many other interesting things you have to offer and focusing on this one thing all the time is getting annoying.

    • TO quote HAL9000

      “I’m sorry, Dave. I can’t do that.”

      The way I blog is this: whatever comes up for me that motivates me to write, be it that day, that moment, that 4 second explosion, that is what I write on.

      If the recurring thread isn’t to your liking, then I’m not the writer for you right now.

      But thanks for reading.

  8. But what about consenting adults, right to privacy, and all that?

    There hasn’t been a single “we” banner for all black people in this country since…well, never. (Hell, one part of my family OWNED slaves while the others were enslaved: economics created two very different sets of black people who experienced racism quite differently.)

    Black people are not some homogeneous mass living one collective life, so sacred cows are bound to differ.

    And really, what an intelligent, successful and beautiful black woman does in her bedroom is something that neither we, nor the late Dr. King are fit to judge.

    Really, if there’s going to be any vitriol spewed in the direction of race players in the scene, aim for the dickheads who assume that being a non-white person means they can project their kink on you without permission. Cuz at the end of the day, the only thing separating the majority of what goes on in BDSM from criminal acts is the bottom’s gleeful consent.

    [/rambling]

  9. Okay… lets look at this a slightly different way.
    Historically, one group of people has enslaved another since the beginning of time. Don’t believe me? Read the Old Testament. Most especially Deuteronomy and the laws for dealing with SLAVES.
    How did the United States come to be? England sent indentured servants (aka slaves) here. Oh and criminals. (yes i know they sent them to Australia as well but who do you think powered those big ole ships that landed here?)
    The first peoples here… the Aztecs, you remember them? They built their empire with naught but their own two hands and all that dontchyano.. Not.. try slavery. Oh and how about Native Americans? One tribe conquered another guess what they did with the folks that lived? You guessed it… they made them slaves. Romans made slaves of the folk they conquered, Greeks made slaves of the folks they conquered… and so it goes all down through history.
    Is it pretty? Nope. Is it right, nope. Did it happen? yup. I wonder why we dont hear more about the injustices wrought on the Celts that the Romans enslaved? Or how about the Nordic peoples whinging about being enslaved by their own people in the time of the Vikings?

    Now with all that said…
    Let’s take a lesson from Psychology101. You remember aversion therapy? The therapist slowly helps a person who is afraid of spiders by slowly getting them used to seeing pictures of spiders, then they bring in a jar with a spider in it, then a spider sitting on a shelf near the person, then the spider is right on the table beside them until one day they can actually pick up the spider without screaming in hysterics. I think the same principle applies here. By addressing something like race play we slowly come to understand that something like slavery can only hurt us if we allow it to. Instead of running screaming from the room because race play isnt politically correct how about looking at it as a tool to help us understand that in every one of us runs the blood of a race that was once enslaved by another? Get past it and get on with living life.

    Race play isnt an invitation to actually enslave another human being without their consent. Which, it seems to me, is a MAJOR point thats being over looked. Nobody is holding a gun on a person who is engaged in race play saying that they will now and forever be a slave in the historical sense. For that one BRIEF moment in time the people involved with Race play are joining in a consensual scene that addresses the issues of being a slave and more than likely helps those involved understand the whole atmosphere of being a slave or being a slave owner. I highly doubt Mollena is telling everyone in the BDSM community to run out and play Plantation Owner/slave for a few hours. (She doesnt strike me as that irresponsible.) But by addressing the issues of slavery in the SAFE space of a consensual scene, a white man can maybe understand a little of his family’s history as slave owners or his black submissive can work through the ramifications of being a slave in her own head.
    I am NOT in anyway trying to intimate that Race Play is a joke of any sort and I hope nobody takes it that way. However… We might all best be served by remembering that this is a type of acting. Anybody see “Roots” or how about “Glory”? Try telling one of the actors in those movies that because they played the part of a slave that they are wrong. Denzel Washington would kick your ass and Morgan Freeman would mop the floor with whats left.
    I love ya Mo… I hope I am getting what you were saying about Race Play in the interview. If not please feel free to correct my happy butt. I plead exhaustion from working all night.
    Big hugs
    kahlana

  10. I don’t think you can separate the history of BDSM from the history of Atlantic slavery. That’s where the whole master-slave thing comes from, as seen in its earliest practicioners (e.g. Dr. Samuel Johnson in the 18th century, Arthur Munby and Hannah Cullwick in the 19th century, etc.) You could see master-slave roleplay as a kind of blackface phenomenon.

    Thus, I don’t think race play is any worse or more harmful to individuals or to society than BDSM play in general.

  11. This is Andrea Plaid, the woman who interviewed Mollena about race play.

    Honestly, the original post sounds a lot like the conversation we had at Racialicious re: Ciara’s “Love Sex Magic” video,

    http://www.racialicious.com/2009/04/03/your-sex-acts-and-partners-arent-uplifting-the-race/

    namely that many kinky and non-kinky folks wanted to express their own squick regarding race play by intoning Black Civil Rights icons and African American history as a form of policing sexual desires/acts/fantasies of other Black folks. Where this kind of reasoning fails for me is the fact it disingenously idealizes both the leaders and the history to the point where it doesn’t allow any complexity of the people and the events involved and, by extension, wants to proscribe a certain set of behavior for Black folks today (under the guise of “legacy) or else the person who doesn’t act “properly” isn’t seen as “Black enough.”

    To paraphrase Dr. Cornel, West, Blackness is up for grabs, meaning that there is no one way to *act*–as if there’s ever been, really. To continue this sort of rhetoric is, frankly, counterproductive and re-inscribing stereotypes which, ultimately, flatten people’s humanity, including how they wish to express themselves sexually. If you’re Black and you personally not down for race play, then express it as your personal discomfort alone. The Race didn’t vote on you to speak for the rest of us.

  12. Really glad you’ve been posting your own and now an opposing point of view on this issue.

    I think my main concern would be wondering if the person dominating me *really* thought they were better due to race—but, as in being submissive, the same concern arises. I guess it’s all a game of knowing people well enough and deciding based on that if it’s sexual power *play* or someone genuinely trying to dominate you in a reprehensible way under the guise of bdsm. Trust, as always, is a sticky little wicket.

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