Starting a Different Conversation: On Mixed-Race/Biracial/Multiracial Visibility and Inclusion

Starting a Different Conversation: On Mixed-Race/Biracial/Multiracial Visibility and Inclusion

“It can be hard to talk about the complexity of visibility when “passing” is thrown like hisses at a dinner party, with no consideration to how it feels to “pass” — how it feels to be misidentified, mismarked, misjudged, misperceived, mislabeled, misunderstood. In a world where race relations are so often forcibly boiled down to black and white, it can be hard to raise my voice to start discussions about my unique experiences when broader forms of discrimination are hurting people in my community every day.”

“When white people see us, they often take on absurd, acrobatic leaps in conversation to let us know that they’ve picked up on our non-whiteness — even if they don’t know exactly what flavor of non-whiteness that is.”

 

The Semiotics of Race, or: Walks on the Wild Side

The Semiotics of Race, or: Walks on the Wild Side

The ad was in a women’s magazine and if I remember correctly, was for a perfume. It featured a white woman lying in bed with a black man. The man’s shirtless back was to the viewer, making only his taut, muscular form and powerful-looking arms and shoulders visible. He was faceless, unidentified. The woman looked sultrily at us from over his mysterious form, satisfaction writ large over her features. She had partaken of whatever delights this man had to offer and was smugly, luxuriantly basking in the afterglow.

The ad copy was, “Take a walk on the wild side.”

My teacher used the ad as an example of how marketers can use certain words and images to convey large amounts of information subtly and effectively. A white woman having sex with a black man? How risqué. The implication: be a little like that woman. Spray on that perfume and feel like the kind of girl who has sex with faceless, muscular black men in ritzy hotel rooms because it’s an adventure, a thrill, a risk, something illicitly pleasurable.

These are the semiotics of race. This is why columnists will trip over themselves not to call Lupita Nyong’o or Angela Basset “beautiful”, choosing instead to use terms that call to mind a kind of savage, animalistic magnetism: fierce, striking, edgy, eye-catching. Words like “pretty” and “beautiful” and “cute” are for white women whose bodies and sexualities are not seen as wild, animal, or untamed. Black men are hulking, threatening, thuggish; white men are charming, sexy heartthrobs with hearts of gold. Brown women are exotic, with their “honey-coloured” skin and their “mystical”, “enchanting” beauty, unlike their white counterparts, who are held up as not only ideal, but knowable and safe. White people are beautiful; non-white people are dangerous.

Quick Note on Racist Body Stereotypes

So primarily thanks to tumblr (dear god I love that place), particularly this awesome blog and also this awesome blog and many others, I’ve gotten some views and some feedback on that post about, well, dicks. 

With time, more writing, more shares, etc, my hope is that eventually this blog will include more perspectives on interracial couples/racism than my own and my man’s, and I wanted to make sure I shared some of that feedback.

One of the things I saw repeatedly was that a lot of black women in particular have been asked by white dudes how they compare to black dudes. -_- So much intimidation and insecurity.

Another thing was that the discussion should be opened up to include ALL racist body stereotypes (e.g. black women all have big butts), how they’re perpetuated, and ESPECIALLY how they’re fetishized by white people.*

Last but not least, someone on tumblr remarked, “This is the type of thing that white people need to tell other white people…”

Yeah, we really do. What white people (I need to think of tags that will bring in more white people) really need to get past is that idea that racism isn’t our problem…because basically, when it comes to racism, we ARE the problem. Our obliviousness IS the problem.

So in my next post, which will hopefully come tomorrow, I’m going to try and address the feedback I got and go into a little more detail.

And thank you so, so much to those who posted the link to my blog. It is deeply appreciated (and so is your feedback, your suggestions, your criticism, etc).

*Yes, I KNOW white people aren’t the only people who fetishize other races. That doesn’t excuse the problem.

 

Do Black Guys Have Bigger Dicks?

If the title isn’t clear enough, I should go ahead right now and let everyone know- there will be “bad words” on this blog.

As a white woman dating a black man, I’ve gotten this question several times. For a long time, I would answer. At first it was, “I think so,” and then, “I can’t speak for all black men, but my guess based on experience is yes.” It was as though because I’ve slept with someone of a different race, I’m now some sort of black dude expert, some sort of “once you go black you can’t go back” scientist.

In case this is really necessary, I’m going to tell you why that’s incredibly ignorant and just a tad racist.

Don’t get me wrong, here. I understand that the human mind tends toward categorization. I also understand that sex is not only one of the funnest (is that a word?) activities out there, but also one of the most entertaining conversation topics there is. And let me be quite clear when I say that, in every person I have loved and in every person I have slept with, I have found things to be proud of in both their spiritual being and their physical body.

In other words, I think it should go without saying that I’m damn proud to be with my man and I’m enamored of his strong, well-endowed body. I hold those people I commit to in high esteem, and one of a thousand reasons I’m with him is because sometimes when I look at him and talk to him, I still can’t believe he’s with me.

But there will be time for amorous ravings later. Let’s get back to the dick question.

Have you seen that Meet Your First Black Girlfriend video? How about this Morning After video featuring Sasheer Zamata? Great, funny videos featuring talented black women…and, true to life, awkward white men. One of the themes that shows up in both of these videos is the white dude [awkwardly] uncomfortably trying to ask the black woman how he compares with black men. In these videos, it’s presented as funny, but also not quite right. And honestly, that’s a little bit how it is in real life.

Given the opportunity, plenty of women will rave about their man’s bedroom skills. They might even rave about his size. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. And let’s be fair, I never had a problem giggling about (not in front of him) it if a white guy I slept with was small…but I never said, “Oh, he’s small because he’s white.”

If you happened to see and watch the video posted previously to this, a conversation between Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith (both of whom are absolutely brilliant writers, by the way), it is said in that video that “race” really only matters because of racism. I think this is absolutely true.

I hope I don’t need to point this out, but race as humans know it isn’t a biological thing. Things like skin color, eye shape, etc etc, these don’t make other people a slightly different species. Ancestry and regional differences might mean genetic differences/advantages, such as being more susceptible to certain diseases that weren’t common to the region one’s ancestors grew up in. These differences DO NOT make any ancestral population less human than another.

But [white] people didn’t always know this, or care to know it for that matter. Throughout history (especially the times of slavery in America), we see white Americans and Europeans using black bodies as though they were another, lesser species. In racists today, we see a similar attitude. Just look at that idiotically antiquated Bundy guy referring to “the Negro” as though he were talking about his cattle. White people in history were constantly trying to prove that those of African descent were somehow different, somehow closer to animals than to human beings. The biggest reason they did this was in order to justify things like racism and slavery. There’s an especially terrible history of white men using the bodies of black women not only for scientific experimentation, but for profit. Look at the story of the Hottentot Venus: Saartjie Sarah Baartman was made into a caricature of the African woman and used as a lucrative carnival sideshow attraction. Even after death, her body was kept and casted for further scientific research because her genitalia and buttocks were shaped differently than those of European white women. Look at the history of gynecological research (will post a link as soon as I find the one I have in mind, but you can always google it). Look at phrenology, the false notion that varying measurements of the skull indicated a lesser species that for a long time, was taken as a valid science.

And this is still going on. Look at this racist piece of shit published by someone who was supposedly well-versed in evolution (I don’t fucking think so). Look at Eve Ensler, who’s supposed to be an intersectional feminist icon, obsessing over African women’s bodies to the point of likening herself to Jesus taking on their “Congo Stigmata.”

Black bodies aren’t here for the entertainment of white people. They aren’t here for our study. They aren’t here for us to try and create scientific theories about. And they aren’t here to prompt naughty giggle-fests among white women. And sorry ladies, but it’s just like with any man- you don’t REALLY get to know how big his dick is until you reach down and grab it. (Also, if you’re only having sex with a guy to see how big he is or to have a specific “racial” or “cultural” experience, you might have some other issues to deal with.)

From here on out, if my boyfriend isn’t uncomfortable with it, I’ll have no problem answering the question of whether HE, HIMSELF is a well-endowed man. But being asked the question of whether black guys have bigger dicks in general isn’t something I can address. Black men aren’t another species. Black people aren’t here for our study and our speculation.

**If any people of color would like to weigh in on this or have any corrections/suggestions, please always ALWAYS feel free to offer them.