"Think black folks don't engage in polyamorous relationships?"
At the Ebony magazine website, a columnist introduces modern poly and considers it in the context of the black experience. The headline writer confused the subject with polygamy, but the columnist doesn't. Excerpts below.
Ebony (print circulation 1.2 million) has been the leading mainstream magazine for African-Americans since 1945. (The article may be on the website only).
You, Me and He: Does Polygamy Work?
Think black folks don't engage in polyamorous relationships? Think again. Feminista Jones explores the ins and outs.
By Feminista Jones
Never judge a relationship simply by the two people you see. However unlikely, there could be four or five more people waiting in the wings to round out a happy family. Such is the life of polyamorous folks… and yes, Black people do engage in polyamory.... It’s important to understand that, for many people, relationships are not primarily about sex. Relationships can be far more complex, and there are more poly relationships in our communities than we think.
A polyamorous relationship usually involves three or more people consensually engaged in various degrees of romantic and sexual intimacy. All parties involved are aware that others exist, and they are all connected: either by one person being the central focus, or by some mix of interchanging partnerships and intimate fluidity. “Polyamory” literally means “many loves,” and these “loves” can include everything from deep, emotionally-bonded partnerships to sexual partners enjoyed from time to time.
More often than not, a male figure is at the center, connected to several women. In some instances, they practice what’s known as “polyfidelity,” a commitment to keep romantic and sexual activity within their established group.... In some polyfidelity situations, the women are bisexual and engage in sexual activity with each other. In other poly relationships, each partner has the option and opportunity to date and/or have sex outside of their committed relationships....
...The fascinating thing about polyamory in our communities is that so many of us have stories about how our grandfathers or elders had two families or had a wife and kids at home, but it was well-known that he was also dealing with Ms. So-and-So down the street, taking care of her house and home just as he was with his wife and kids. Many of our grandmothers seemed to have turned blind eyes to their husbands’ behaviors, but knowledge of these activities was widespread. We keep a lot of secrets and pretend these things haven’t and don’t still happen, but they do. Yet we often balk at the idea of people being open and willing to explore this type of lifestyle because it doesn’t seem right.
...Ann-Marie*, a married woman in a polyamorous relationship with her second husband and one other woman, says that she knew she wasn’t cut out for a monogamous relationship. “I got married young, at 26, to a man I loved, and I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do,” she says. “...Now, I’m in my late 30s and living a wonderful life with my [second] husband and my wife.”
Ann-Marie explained that when she met her husband, Devon*, he was dating their current third partner. He explained to her that he was exploring the poly lifestyle and wanted to be open and honest. She appreciated his honesty and they all began to build. Their other partner, Joanna*, wasn’t interested in legal marriage, but embraced the polyamory as they did. Ann-Marie lives with her husband and Joanna lives in an apartment in the building across the street. They spend a lot of time together and they make it work for them. Joanna occasionally dates outside of their triad, but for the most part, it’s the three of them in their unit — and according to Ann Marie, they’re all happy with the arrangement. (None of them have children, which one would imagine makes things less complicated.)
At what point do we begin to accept that people have the right to choose the relationship dynamics that work best for them?...
Feminista Jones is a sex-positive Black feminist, social worker and blogger from New York City. She writes about gender, race, politics, mental health and sexuality at FeministaJones.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FeministaJones.
Read the whole article (April 16, 2013).
Labels: polys of color