"Five Things White People Can Do to Make Their Poly Communities More Welcoming for People of Color"
The crowds you see at poly-community gatherings are not altogether as white as they used to be, but they're still a lot more so than the general population.
Interview on Talk Like a Man Project.
So the poly movement is racially isolated, to the movement's detriment. Theories abound.
Kevin Patterson is a Philadelphia Black & Poly activist who founded and runs the Poly Role Models project and frequently presents at poly cons. He recently discussed the topic in depth on the Poly in the Cities podcast, Episode 49: The Intersection of Race and Polyamory with Kevin Patterson. Listen from that page.
From an interview elsewhere:
From the inside, I’m often required to shrink because I know how threatening the world can be when you look how I look. I’ve got to tone down my natural strength and avoid attention because… from the outside, that strength is often perceived as dangerous, emotional, and unstable. There are studies that say white people subconsciously believe black men to feel less pain....
At the same time, as a person who engages with a lot of romantic and sexual partners, I have to be equally wary. I occasionally encounter non-black women who are less interested in me and more attracted to the collection of stereotypes they believe me to represent. Part of that package includes the concept of black men being hypermasculine and hypersexual. Staying vigilant against being placed in that box is exhausting.
Sociologist Elisabeth Sheff, who has studied the poly movement for years, posted a writeup prompted by the podcast. She's in an interracial marriage herself, and she tells us that it "has encouraged me to think more deeply about white privilege and recognize it on a much more immediate, less theoretical level."
Five Things White People Can Do to Make Their Poly Communities More Welcoming for People of Color
By Elisabeth Sheff
...Turns out white folks in the poly community routinely try to tell Kevin Patterson about his experience as a Black person: When Kevin names race in conversations with some poly folks and event or group organizers, it all too often turns into an adversarial interaction instead of a collaborative discussion.
...When the liberal white people are too afraid to talk about race, the only white people who will speak of it out loud are the white supremacists, which makes racism seem all the more fringe. In truth, racism is everywhere, deeply embedded in the social structures and institutions of the US.
How can you avoid being one of those white people who argue as if they know POC’s experience better than the POC do? How can you be an ally instead of part of the problem? Try these five not so simple steps, and keep practicing because it can be challenging....
Set your defensiveness aside — Discussion of race and white privilege do not have to be about white people and our egos. Evidence that you are becoming defensive includes a desire to rebut your conversation partner so strong that it distracts you from hearing what they are saying. If you are searching for flaws in your opponent’s argument, it means you are not truly open to what they are saying because you are not listening. You can be an ally even if you have been an “inactive beneficiary”* of the white privilege surrounding you, as long as you can set aside your need to “win the conversation.”*
Listen — This means more than just keeping your own mouth shut. This means really listening to and thinking about what the other person is saying, rather than formulating your rebuttal. If you are not sure what to say or how to say it, listen for a while and clarify your thoughts. If you are tempted to interrupt... take a deep breath and keep your mouth closed. This can be difficult for white folks who have always been very verbal and used to people listening to them.
Educate Yourself — Do not expect people of color to educate you about racism — that is exhausting for them and inappropriate for you. There are books, websites, podcasts, and You Tube presentations on white privilege.... Take some self-responsibility for your education and start expanding your envelope. Tim Wise is a great place to start. If you are in Atlanta, come to the Sex Down South Conference and see my presentation on Thursday October 13....
Acknowledge White Privilege — Out loud, every time you can, with your family, friends, grocers, neighbors, and strangers on the street. To successfully acknowledge the (very blatant, once you start looking for it) evidence of white privilege in your social environment, you have to recognize it yourself.
[And my favorite,] Learn to Tolerate Racial Discomfort — Race is uncomfortable in the US, and white people have been able to shift that discomfort on to people of color for far too long. It is going to be profoundly uncomfortable for white people to talk about race — and that is OK, we should still do it with open hearts and open minds. People of color have been beyond uncomfortable with the effects of racism, and is past time for white people to share that load of social discomfort and change. Take a deep breath and use your relationship skills to work on your relationship with race.
Her whole post (September 12, 2016).
Labels: polys of color