Polys of color
A bold exception to this quietude is black radio and TV personality Michael Baisden. He understands the subject, is not afraid of it, and has brought Loving More director Robyn Trask and other poly leaders onto his shows many times over the years. Unfortunately I don't find any of these shows archived on the web.
A listener of his wrote,
He is nonmonogamous, according to what he's said on the show, and he's interviewed Robyn [Trask], Jim Fleckenstein, and others live on the show while he fielded calls. He's nationally syndicated. Baisden has done several 1- to 3-hour segments on polyamory and has been challenging callers' attitudes about poly as being the same as cheating, and partners who are so territorial because the perception is that there aren't enough black men to go around. A poly African American man called in and said how hard it is to explain poly to new women without being accused of spinning a line.
A few days ago Clutch magazine ("ushering in the new era for young, contemporary women of color") ran a forward-looking article:
Why monogamy isn't the most important part of a relationship
By Tasha Fierce
Recently a new sex partner asked for my advice on how to deal with three women he was "seeing," each of whom was interested in having a monogamous relationship with him. Being as how we had just had "no strings attached" sex, I asked him if he was really able to handle truly being monogamous. His reply was (as I expected) a sheepish "No."
It came out that he was more interested in one of the women than in the other two, but that she also had commitment issues. So I suggested that he consider an open relationship, one in which he did all the "girlfriend" things with this woman, but which allowed for both of them to still have the option of sex with other people -- provided that there was no emotional involvement.
This was an apparently novel idea for him, and he liked it. I explained that they would need to negotiate the ground rules of their relationship.... After he left, I wondered to myself: If we didn't have the expectation that our "committed" partners would be able to fulfill all of our sexual needs, could we be free to simply enjoy the closeness and commitment of a relationship based on emotional instead of sexual fidelity?
For me, the most important part of a relationship is the emotional connection you have with your partner. You trust them, you talk openly with them, they know your quirks and flaws and still love you for them. When you have this connection, it usually makes for better sex. But there's something to be said about having someone you can give your heart to and still remain free to engage in other sexual encounters. I'm talking about emotional monogamy....
Some people take the next step and choose to practice polyamory -- multiple full-fledged emotional and sexual relationships. Books like The Ethical Slut offer a guide on how to construct working polyamorous relationships....
This type of relationship arrangement is not for those interested in emotional fidelity, because, by definition, polyamory is participation in multiple loving relationships. Meaning, you're sharing your partner's affections -- so if you're the jealous type, this probably won't work for you. But many people can and do thrive in a polyamorous relationship. Me, I need that emotional exclusivity. To each her own....
...Add sex to the equation, and the fact that when you orgasm with a partner a hormone called oxytocin is released causing the creation of strong attachment, and you've got drama if your partner doesn't get the same dosage....
Each of these non-monogamous relationship configurations -- and I'm only touching on a few of the multiple possibilities -- have their pros and cons. It is important to think carefully about what you need in order to feel comfortable. Do you want to "come home" to one person but have sex with many people, as in, an emotionally monogamous yet sexually open relationship? Can you handle knowing that your partner both loves and sleeps with more women than just you, as in a polyamorous relationship? Do you want to love and sleep with more partners than just the one? Can you rein in your attachment and just be friends who f**k? Really, it's up to you where the line is drawn.
But in any non-monogamous relationship, just as in monogamous relationships, communication is of the utmost importance. The minute that communication breaks down when one partner expects something that the other has no idea they want, things fall apart.
...Practicing non-monogamy doesn't make you a "ho" or a "slut." I know we are wary of the stereotype of the hypersexualized black woman.... What I am suggesting is that we shed the notion that there's only one way to be in a relationship with someone, and embrace the spectrum of relationship configurations that include flavors of non-monogamy.
You might find ways to fulfill needs you didn't even know that you had.
Read the whole article (Dec. 6, 2010). It's also reprinted at The Grio (Dec. 7, 2010).
Pepper Mint, a poly/ bi/ queer activist and organizer in the San Francisco area, passes this on:
"Katie (a friend of mine from the DC area) is co-editing an anthology of nonfiction writings by people of color who are polyamorous, kinky, swingers, or otherwise sexually bent or nonmonogamous. This is going to be a first-of-its-kind book, and fills a gap in the literature as there has been very little published writing by poly people of color.
"They are looking for submission ideas (not full pieces; 250 words maximum) by midnight January 15th [changed from December 15th]. Despite the name ('perverts') they are very interested in polyamory submissions."
Here's the website.
Some other links:
On NeoBlaqness.com: Why Are Polyamorists Mostly White?
Alicia's apologia, i do not own a pink uhaul truck, on her Freedom Fighter blog.
Polyamory has been a Skype discussion topic at Quirky Black Girls.
At the online woman's magazine Hello Beautiful (part of BlackPlanet.com), Abiola Abrams did a video report asking people "Are open relationships for you?" (April 20, 2010).
A few months ago a blogger put up Poly PoC Resource List beginnings.
In the academic journal Sexualities: Progressive Polyamory: Considering Issues of Diversity, Melita J. Noël, December 2006. "...In particular, these texts, written by and geared toward an assumed audience of white, middle-class, able-bodied, educated, American people fail to address how nationality, race, class, age and (dis)ability intersect with gender and sexuality in the theory and practice of polyamory. In order to successfully challenge systemic, intersecting oppressions, polyamorists must move beyond the limits of identity politics to build coalitions and norms of inclusivity around shared issues, such as expanding definitions of relationships, families and communities." (Abstract only; full paper requires payment or library access.)
Added later: In Oakland Local in California, a black writer explains her New Year's resolution:
Resolutions 2011: Giving up monogamy
I am resolved to start this New Year fresh, and take up, once again, the vow that I made to myself a very long time ago, and broke, unwisely. This vow was to completely give up monogamy.
I’ve tried to do it in the past, only to fail miserably.
What can I say? I am in love with the world and terrified of it at the same time.
The beauty of us all is startling. Falling in love with someone feels natural. But then agreeing to a monogamous relationship usually feels like I am cheating on myself....
Read the whole article (Jan. 13, 2011).
If you know of more, please add them in the comments.
Labels: polys of color