Earlier this month, a clip of Angela Yee’s podcast, “Lip Service,” began to circulate on social media. In it, rapper, Maino, talks about his sexual desire to role play a disobedient slave having a sexual encounter with his white mistress.
A friend of mine replied to the video with a reaction photo showing her disapproval, which is how I saw the original post. I then replied to her saying, “I try not to kink shame. Race play is definitely not something I could participate in but watching this makes me feel similar to hearing those Black women talk about calling the police on Black men and getting turned on by it."
It wasn’t long before I realized the tweet was traveling outside of my little online neighborhood. The quote tweets and replies started rolling in and things began to get weird. The replies fell into three themes: those who’d recently become aware of race play, those that said I was lying about kink shaming and the existence of race play, and those who were furious that I had the audacity to mention Black women at all.
But in the reactions to the video and my tweet, I realized just how little people have thought about the influence white supremacy has on their sex lives, desires, and how little people know about domination and submission, and sadism and masochism (BDSM).
Essentially, what Maino is describing – though he does not use the term – is race play. This is when dominant and submissive sexual partners make a consensual decision to participate in BDSM that involves role play and racial structures. Hence the slave and slave master sexual fantasy he describes. Like many forms of BDSM, race play is considered by some to be especially taboo.
Like I said in my tweet, I try not to kink shame. Everything ain’t for everybody. This is easy to understand when talking about other sex acts with your friends. Some people like doing butt stuff, other’s like having their toes sucked, and so on. As long as it’s between two consenting adults and it’s something that both people enjoy, have at it.
Personally, race play makes me very uncomfortable. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about how white supremacy impacts our lives at every level, I don’t find anything arousing about the idea of using it for the purpose of sexual titillation. As a Black woman trying to date in a predominately white city, I do everything in my power to avoid men who fetishize Black women.
We live in a simultaneously puritanical and hyper-sexual culture and white supremacy touches every aspect of our lives; it’s reach does not stop at the bedroom door. What Maino describes is not new and the faux outrage at his admission is boring. If you have ever looked at a porn tube site for any length of time you’ve seen how white supremacy impacts and shapes people’s perceptions about sex, and Black people, even if you didn’t recognize it.
White people are considered the default in life. We are constantly told that their humanity and experience is universal. The message is relayed in the stories we read, the news we hear, the movies we watch, the wars we pay attention to, and the critics who talk about the content we consume. In mass media, most everything is filtered through the white gaze – which includes pornography.
Think about it, if you want to see Black people in adult films, you must search for it. You’d be hard pressed to find Black folks, or any people of color, featured equally on the landing page of a porn tube site. Black female performers are paid less than their white counterparts. White female performers who have sex with a Black man for the first time on camera receive big paydays when they do.
Even porn site search functionality is streamlined to feed and reinforce stereotypes. According to Black adult film performer, Daisy Ducati, “The interracial tag absolutely perpetuates racist stereotypes — there’s no question about that. It perpetuates the concept that there’s something taboo about interracial sex; that it’s not normal or culturally acceptable. It’s racism, plain and simple.”
Race play may be a taboo sexual act, but that doesn’t mean anti-Blackness doesn’t impact sex, sexuality, or the performance of either. If we are decolonizing our politics, religion, and minds, we shouldn’t stop at the bedroom door.