One of the most popular posts here on We Are Respectable Negroes discusses a BDSM retreat where black men serve as the "slaves" of white male "masters". That piece was part of a larger discussion of questions related to role-playing, living museums, and questions of identity, race, power, and historical memory.
"Playing with Sex, Power, and Race: Did You Know That There Are "Plantation Retreats" Where Black People Go to Serve Their White Masters?" floats about and around the Internet until it gets picked up on a frequent basis, during which it is routinely met with shock, horror, and offense. Said essay does have a life of its own; the Google machine has favored it.
As such, both this week and last, "Playing with Sex, Power, and Race: Did You Know That There Are "Plantation Retreats" Where Black People Go to Serve Their White Masters?" has proven itself to be popular once again.
I often receive emails about how I discovered that retreat, and my thoughts on race and sex play more generally. Given the recent rise--pardon the obvious pun--in emails with those questions, I reasoned that it would be most efficient to answer them in a post here on We Are Respectable Negroes.
As I wrote here, I am not interested in passing judgement about how consenting adults choose to explore their sexuality. However, I am very fascinated by how sexuality and notions of the erotic reflect a society's collective subconscious.
Redd Foxx was right and best when he said that when the lights are off, all that really matters is who wiped their butts. Such a policy is my civil sexual religion: a person's melanin count is the last thing I care about given the wondrous gift that is enjoying each other's bodies like a great roller coaster that we can ride for free....over, and over, and over again.
I also acknowledge how a person's skin color can be a source of sexual titillation and arousal for those who are differently inclined than me.
With those qualifiers in play and noted, here are some additional discoveries, questions, and thoughts on race play.
How did you discover the plantation retreat that you wrote about in "Playing with Sex, Power, and Race: Did You Know That There Are "Plantation Retreats" Where Black People Go to Serve Their White Masters?"
I go to many websites and follow these Internets where they take me. I also read and share my discoveries here on We Are Respectable Negroes with all of you so that more innocent eyes can be saved and preserved. Thus, my borrowing a phrase from Nolan's Batman movies, I reach down into the muck and mire so that you do not have to.
Have you discovered other BDSM plantation-slavery role-playing retreats? What about other online resources for those people who want to engage in "slavery" BDSM role-playing?
Yes. There is one in the United Kingdom which you can read about here. They also have an application process. The proprietors are quite interested in "owning" "slaves" who are not white. Blue Star Plantation's "slave master" and "overseers" also host a President Jefferson Davis event--yes, in honor of the Confederacy--where they have a race in which their slaves compete with one another for the approval and honor of the respective masters.
The online community called Fetlife has a dedicated group called "The Slave Register". It has approximatley 6,000 members who enjoy the lifestyle that is being a slave "owned" by another person. Some of the members are interested in race play. Many other members have not explicitly mentioned an interest in that lifestyle.
Have you discovered any examples of race play and slavery fantasies which you found particularly disturbing or surprising?
My instincts tell me that those folks who are really into that lifestyle are not posting online in regular forums. Likely, there is a very private subculture, one that exists outside of the eyes of "tourists" like myself.
However, I did discover that there is a website where you can register the UPC code of your "slave" in an online database. This is the natural evolution of the jewelry, brands, and other tattoos worn by submissives who are "owned" by their "masters". I was still surprised that people would actually register a UPC code, have it tattooed on their flesh, and then make the information accessible on a public database.
African-Americans were forced to wear "slave tags" during the centuries of our bondage in the United States and elsewhere. We were also branded with markings that showed our "ownership" by a specific master. It should not be surprising that some people who are engaged in race play or "master"/"slave" relationships would use current technology.
What do you think of race play more generally?
Do you. Have fun. I am not interested in introducing such dynamics into my personal relationships. I am a pretty direct person. Some of us choose to work out issues of power and trauma in our intimate lives. It is not for me. Consenting adults should be able to do as they wish. Does this mean that such types of kink and sex play ought to be immune from a critical gaze that locates them within an understanding of broader social dynamics? Of course not. As has been said many times--often too much for my taste--the personal is political.
What do you think of X site? Have you seen the Race Play Tumblr site?
There is lots of stuff out there which I am not interested in looking at. Sorry. Yes, I am a pretty curious person by nature. But, I know that there are some motifs and genres of erotica, adult film, etc. where there is overtly racist language coupled with gonzo style sex that is off-putting to me. These rules apply for white men on black women, black men on white women, and all other combinations in which some stereotypical depiction of race, sex, and the body is shown. Not for me. To quote the movie Boogie Nights, such things do not get my joy juice flowing.
I have seen the Race Play Tumblr. I do not know if it is an intentional parody, a pathetic effort to get paid off of the "race play" lifestyle, or a smart hustle.
For those of you who have not seen the site do click here.
I found most of it pretty funny...in a sad, tragic, and "what the hell?" sort of way. I also found this cartoon pretty damn laughable.
Perhaps, that is because I understand the idea of the White Gaze, and how such racist depictions of the black body are not "real" as they are projections of the white racial frame, and a twisted, white supremacist understanding of the humanity of black and brown people? Ultimately, the Race Play Tumblr is a window into white racism; it offers no commentary on the true humanity of black and brown people. What worries me the most is how some people of color have internalized such fictions about their humanity and sexuality.
What was funny about the Race Play Tumblr?
The videos on the site are comical to me. And yes, for many people, they would be disturbing. I get that. But, I did find the following description of one of the videos, and later mission statement of the website's founder's vision, very entertaining. There are many black men and other people of color who would get off from being humiliated in such a way.
I would think that black conservatives such as Clarence Thomas, Allen West, and C.L. Bryant would thoroughly enjoy being smothered by a white woman's genitals and butt, all the while being called racial slurs, to be very, very, very exciting.
You're the house servant of a nice white lady, Miss Livvy Rose, and she's been good to give you a great job inside cleaning & doing chores. Unfortunately she comes in; sees that you didn't clean up a mess on the kitchen floor earlier & admonishes you greatly. She's VERY dissapointed in you, calling all sorts of mean racist names, not just the N-word but many others to describe your race (not sure if I can write them here yet or not!) She makes you lie face up on the floor and sits on your face, smothering you & it's so hard for you to breathe! But she finds great joy in torturing her black slaves because that's what you were put here on earth for. She keeps laughing; sitting on your face in glee. Maybe now you'll learn to obey her better.
Welcome to my TABOO RACEPLAY site... if you're a black male who find the words Nigger, Coon, Darkie coming out of the mouth of nice lookin white women turning you on... if you've ever had plantation slave sexual fantasies... if the thought of getting owned by a white (or other non-black) woman using your race as a humiliation factor... get on board! I started filming my own racial humiliation clips because I found the other ones for sale on CLIPS4SALE were very grainy, solo webcam models who don't fully understand the fetish but just yell a bunch of racist terms to the camera; not providing a story. I wanted real life stories in a modern age, to set a scene at least that could be somewhat believable... at least you could wish for it anyways.Those of us who study white supremacy and racism in the post civil rights era often talk about public versus private behavior, and how white racism is much more honest and revealing when the pressure on white folks to publicly conform has been removed. The Race Play Tumblr, and those who are into that lifestyle, give support to such a theoretical framework and hypothesis.
Do you disapprove of race play and BDSM slavery plantations because you are a prude and are repressed?
I am not a prude. I say get your groove on folks. Have fun. I am a very, very sex positive person. As sexologist Dan Savage has said, I am "GGG". I do not have any guilt issues associated with human sexuality rooted in religion or similar mythologies. My parents gifted me with such sensibilities.
I just think that black and brown people who choose to work through racism and white supremacy by having white people abuse them are outside of my realm of understanding. I can understand the opposite, such power play makes more sense to me. But being submissive, in a sexual routine that plays with race, while living in a society that already dominates people of color for not being white, does not compute for me. I am open to learning and listening to those who enjoy such sexual practices.
What will the future of race play hold given the new popularity of slavery films such as Django: Unchained and the recent 12 Years a Slave?
I am not deep enough into thinking about race play as it relates to broader trends in popular culture to offer up an informed answer to that question. Of course, both movies will have their XXX versions. Yes, even the second one.
I am very curious about how race play, and BDSM related retreats, are fueled precisely by the twin lie and emptiness in the American popular imagination about the cruelties and wickedness of the American Slaveocracy. Maybe it is easier for some to get off by offering up an even more twisted version of the white supremacist lie that is/was movies and books such as Gone With the Wind?
But, human beings' capacity for self-deception and creativity never ceases to amaze me. There is sexual role-playing about the Holocaust. I doubt that there would be any taboos about more "realistic" BDSM slavery retreats in the aftermath of a movie such as 12 Years a Slave. And here is the frightening thought: I would bet money that those who are seriously into race play and the motif of the plantation probably know a great deal about the real history and barbarism of the American Slaveocracy. Likely, the idea of their expert knowledge, and using it as part of their sexual oeuvre, is exciting for them.