I wonder if she remembers what she said. At one of my earlier parties, I attempted to introduce myself to a woman and she said “I know who you are, you’re the calmer one of the two black girls”. At the time, I didn’t know a lot of other black people in the scene, especially women. The other woman she was referring to was close to me in age, and often outspoken about injustices. I’ll also note that she has a darker complexion so the whole “I’m the calmer one” still sticks with me. As a black woman who is lighter skinned, the implications were two fold. I don’t really know how much most white people know about colorism, but it would’ve been upsetting even if my complexion was darker.
I laughed awkwardly because I didn’t know what to do. I’ve harbored a fetish before I even knew what sex was. I can’t even really comment about it being dominated by white people because that is the case with a lot of fetishes, including my adjacent ones.
Most people of color have felt I know have said something to me that I would qualify as a microagression. There’s the people who asked me why there weren’t more black people in the scene (wish Id said “because they don’t like you), people who told there other white friend with them (” I love the way ‘their’ skin marks,” went on to say tomething about “bringing my friends”).
I find myself reflecting the most on the person I was close to for years, until I realized that, amongst other things our politics were too different. I say ‘politics’ because that’s how I had it in my head for so long. But him ridiculing the BLM movement wasn’t just politics. It felt personal. You can claim love, but if you don’t support a movement that is structured around my right to live then…
I tried to comfort myself with the knowledge that he wasn’t a Trump supporter. Truly that means nothing. Not liking him isn’t radical or meaningful. And you can boil things down to conversations about politics if you like, but I don’t frame things like this in this context anymore because people are quick to diminish the “political”. This is about my existence, which in turn is about my mother, my father, my brothers, my entire family. But even if it wasn’t about me, it would still be important.
They probably don’t remember what they said, but I still think about it. I find that people will often scoff at the past being brought up. “Why now?” But what about the people they hurt? I’m happy to say that I would never tolerate that now, but it pains me to think that I’m struggling to forgive myself for inaction when they probably don’t remember.
I cringe about not being more vocal about those instances at the time. To be fair to myself, I wasn’t vocal about a lot of mistreatment I endured during this period of my life. Every time, I told myself I was taking the high road. I’m not a person that is drawn towards conflict. Conversely I find it draining. I also warn people they they will only ever regret truly having an argument with me because I do not back down. It’s true. When I summon up the energy to have a difficult interaction, I sometimes put all of my energy into it, exhausting myself until I have nothing left. For a while, the cycle was – ignore, ignore, ignore, IMPLODE, drain. Rinse, repeat. I’m happy to say that I’ve grown from that. But it’s not easy either way. When you’re surrounded by white people, you’re conscious not only of the way you respond to conflict, but the way that people respond to you.
I remember when a writer, who is out in the spanking community posted on twitter about how she was tired of her readers talking about how they wish they could be out when “anyone could be out, they just choose not to be”. I responded and told her that she was coming from a great place of privilege, specifically being a conventionally attractive white woman, who doesn’t have kids – that not everyone would be received the same way, considering other factors at hand: race, their jobs, class, whether or not they had kids, etc.
I wasn’t the only person who disagreed. She then brushed my comments off and turned them into a personal attack. A few months later, I posted about being kinky didn’t make someone part of a marginalized group. Didn’t name anyone, just shared my thoughts on the topic. (A good expansion of my opinion on this topic – not written by me – here.)
Her boyfriend responded to me and defended his girlfriend, saying how her job is dangerous for her as a woman who is open about her sexuality and travels to foreign countries where it might not be well received, and went on to say that if I “mentioned any oppression olympics” stuff he would Godwin’s law me so fast my head would spin”.
To this day, I don’t know what the fuck that had to do with me. But really, I bring this up because why are my experiences being invalidated? I have the same fetish as they do. As a black, bisexual woman, I know firsthand how our we aren’t granted the same social permissions to openly explore our sexuality without criticism, let alone profit off of it. Opening up about a fetish isn’t easy for anyone, and at the end of the day, I think it’s great that people are speaking up. Reading blogs from people in the spanko community made me want to explore. So I can only imagine the impact you make being featured in a newspaper. But if you think that your race doesn’t play a role in making your voice more palatable for editors to publish, if it doesn’t give you a platform that other people might not have available then…maybe you’re not as ‘woke’ as you think.
Most recently, a spanking producer shared promo for a new movie on his website. The premise of the movie was a girl who was detained at the border under the suspicion of having drugs, who is strip searched, detained, and spanked by a border patrol officer. The top in the video is white, the bottom is black/latinx. My friend Alex, who is both a spanking model and producer, publicly criticized the video for it being culturally insensitive, and bordering along the lines of race play, especially considering the number of injustices black and brown women face from ICE. He doubled down and said that it was fiction, that the person performing was his girlfriend, etc. I backed up her comments, noting that even if this video were released during a time where these issues weren’t a topic of conversation, they would still be inappropriate.
He later messaged Alex to see if they could come to some sort of a common ground, but blocked me. I don’t really care about being blocked, I’ve blocked people online for way less. But I do have a problem with the fact that:
a) he chose to eliminate contact with a person of color, who is more likely to be mistreated at the hands of law enforcement
b) publicly doubled down but went on to attempt to “have a conversation” with someone who was white and initially called it out
Sometimes it feels foolish having these conversations online. And people will tell you that it is and honestly sometimes it doesn’t feel worth the effort. Considering the amount of time we spend on social media, it’s natural that the forum for the conversations would migrate. But even the “tired of politics” crowd see these conversations and form opinions, even when they’re annoyed about their kink scrolling getting disrupted.
I’m so tired of holding my tongue because I don’t want to be accused of “playing the race card”.
I’m trying to have grace with myself, because being one of the few black people makes it difficult and awkward to speak out.
Everything feels harder now because I’m so isolated with quarantine and most of life being restricted. I’m incredibly grateful for my other black friends in the scene – there aren’t many of us, but we’re here. I wish we were sharing more mutual joy rather than exhaustion.
And I delight some – I delight knowing that there are some triumphs being made, however small, thanks to people protesting for days on end. When I started this writing, I was mentally preparing to go out and march.
I can’t help but think people will be ready to drop this once media coverage declines, when protests decline. I’ve had a few awkward conversations with white friends who were unsure of what to say, have seen people express jokes on social media about the current situations and awkward calls for equality. My twitter is barely about kink these days (not that it really was much before) and I’ve watched followers drop off but I feel free.
Years ago I held a discussion group for people of color in kink and it was incredible. I intend to do that again, and furthermore, I want to attend more events. I want to, when I have the emotional bandwidth, have longer conversations about people of color and sexuality, specifically black people who identify as women. I’ve said it before that I have never regretted speaking up, even when it was hard. I resent all the times I stayed silent, but I’m not the new girl anymore. I’m much more comfortable speaking up now than I was years ago.
I love my community. It’s impacted my life for the greater good. I’ve developed meaningful relationships that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve learned how to be a better partner, a better friend. I’ve learned how practicing compassion can be painful. And because I love my community, I don’t know how to just shut out every negative feeling in the world.
Because much like the people that want to keep kink separate from “drama/politics/negativity,” I want to feel carefree when I’m here. I deserve it. And I get it – people want the opportunity to shut their brains off, to have a ‘safe space’ from the outside world, and enjoy their kink utopia. But some of us don’t have the privilege to shut down during the harder conversations and be apolitical. Why does our community get to a safe space for some people and not others?
To me, loving a community means wanting it to be better. So I’m going to continue to align myself with the people that support improvement and do everything in my power to make change happen. Because along with the pain I hold right now, I still have more hope than I know what to do with.