I’ll just start this off by being 100% clear that I absolutely support the right of anyone, of sound mind and maturity, to consent to whatever it is that they wanna do. “Race Play” is no exception to this. If you’re a white man whose dick gets hard via calling a Black man “nigger,” go for it. If you’re a Black man who gets off from having a white man call you all the slurs, have at! Part of my sex-positive politic is people having whatever kind of sex or play that fulfills them. For me, the more of a grasp you get on the essence of consent, the easier this all becomes.
Now, that being said, (in my opinion) “Race Play” is trash. Racial fetishizing is trash. Simple as that. It’s all absolute trash.
Unlike most other commonly practiced forms of Kink, I don’t believe “race play” can be explored in a healthy way. If you’re not equipped to address the real, overarching issues around race and white supremacy, then how can you possibly sexualize it healthily? Also, in my experience, no one who has the range to fully confront ALL of the realities around race (white people included) can comfortably sexualize it. I’m yet to come across anyone who has made it past surface level, white-centered activism, but loves “race play.” It just hasn’t happened.
But my personal opinions aside, I think this topic is fairly simple. For me, it all goes back to consent. Again, if you consent to “race play,” by all means, enjoy it! But part of consent is considering that of your audience, beyond the people directly engaging. You have the right to engage in whatever play you want. However, I have a right to feel whatever way I see fit when exposed to that play. If you aren’t granted consent to engage in any form of race play in my presence (and, just so we’re clear, you never will be), then keep it out of my sight. Once you’ve exposed this for others to bare witness to, all bets are off. Gaining even an implied consent of all parties involved, even the audience, when publicly engaging in highly-sensitive play is common practice. “Race play” doesn’t get a special pass.
One other thing to consider (and this might be the most important), is that, unlike most other forms of Kink, “race play” carries real social implications that reach far beyond a bedroom or play space. “Race play” goes into real-world issues in a way that fetishes like fisting or wax play don’t. If I were a “vanilla” person who’s never been exposed to Kink, and I saw a wax play scene, I’d have any range of reactions because it’s something totally new. However, if I witness a white man calling a Black man a “nigger” as he’s having his having his boots licked, that’s a different ball game. I may not have any clue or context around folks playing with wax, but I’m a Black man who has seen racism.
Displays of white supremacy, even in a Kink/BDSM context, are still displays of white supremacy. This kind of imagery can be triggering as hell for any Black person/Person of Color, Kinky or vanilla.
This is why folks feel such a way about “race play.” Also, why it can’t simply be reduced to “Kink shaming.” I’m saying this as someone who’s been in the Leather lifestyle for several years, and am sensitive to the issue. It’s not the BDSM aspect that people have an issue with. It’s the social issues that the practice feeds into. I know Kink shaming, and this ain’t it.
Again, you have a right to practice “race play” to your heart’s content. However, I have a right to demand you keep that shit the hell away from me. I have a right to not wanna bare witness to white people dominating and dropping racial slurs on Black people/POC. I have a right to say that I don’t even want you approaching me with the idea. People, collectively, have a right to not be OK with the sexualization of centuries of genocide and institutionalized disenfranchisement.
You’ll just have to deal.
If you enjoyed this post or any of my other work, and consider buying me some bourbon!
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