Chauncey Devega‘s article, “Playing with Sex, Power, and Race: Did You Know That There Are “Plantation Retreats” Where Black People Go to Serve Their White “Masters?” has emerged from the shadows of the internet to once again shock, disgust and (probably) secretly intrigue readers who have never considered humiliation and racism “appropriate” forms of arousal.
The founder and editor of the blog “We Are Respectable Negroes” fearlessly delves into the world of BDSM (“Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism), then plunges even further into the world of race play.
The images of “Plantation Retreats,” where Black “slaves” go to psychosexually serve their White “masters” (and vice versa), have astonished some people, but there seems to be a growing number of masochists who use race play to navigate through feelings of racial oppression, inferiority and tension.
While these retreats may be an extreme way for some to work through underlying racial aggression and prejudices, who’s job is it to police sexuality?
That was rhetorical. The answer is “no one.”
Since the article began recirculating, it has caused such a stir on social media, that Devega revisits the topic in a Q&A on his blog:
Read an excerpt below:
Have you discovered other BDSM plantation-slavery role-playing retreats? What about other online resources for those people who want to engage in “slavery” BDSM role-playing?
Yes. There is one in the United Kingdom which you can read about here. They also have an application process. The proprietors are quite interested in “owning” “slaves” who are not white. Blue Star Plantation’s “slave master” and “overseers” also host a President Jefferson Davis event–yes, in honor of the Confederacy–where they have a race in which their slaves compete with one another for the approval and honor of the respective masters.
The online community called Fetlife has a dedicated group called “The Slave Register”. It has approximately 6,000 members who enjoy the lifestyle that is being a slave “owned” by another person. Some of the members are interested in race play. Many other members have not explicitly mentioned an interest in that lifestyle.
Have you discovered any examples of race play and slavery fantasies which you found particularly disturbing or surprising?
My instincts tell me that those folks who are really into that lifestyle are not posting online in regular forums. Likely, there is a very private subculture, one that exists outside of the eyes of “tourists” like myself.
However, I did discover that there is a website where you can register the UPC code of your “slave” in an online database. This is the natural evolution of the jewelry, brands, and other tattoos worn by submissives who are “owned” by their “masters”. I was still surprised that people would actually register a UPC code, have it tattooed on their flesh, and then make the information accessible on a public database.
African-Americans were forced to wear “slave tags” during the centuries of our bondage in the United States and elsewhere. We were also branded with markings that showed our “ownership” by a specific master. It should not be surprising that some people who are engaged in race play or “master”/”slave” relationships would use current technology.
Read entire article by clicking here.
In a 2004 Colorlines article, “Playing With Race,” one Black woman explains why race play is not an option for her, but why being subservient is:
Racism was institutionalized as social, economic and legal practices, in part, through rape and the white domination of black sexuality. Chupoo, who is a black woman and declined to give her last name, says it point blank: “I can’t do race play because I have people in my family who had to submit to that, where they had no choices. It’s too close to home for American black people.” Race play makes her think about her grandmother who had to sleep with her employer, a doctor, so that her children could have healthcare.
Chupoo is not anti-BDSM. In fact, for seven years, she’s been a submissive in a master-slave relationship with a black man. So, she’s delighted, for example, when in an erotic context, he calls her a “bitch.” “I can accept other people are able to rise above their sexism,” she says, adding, “The race thing is really a lot deeper. I guess it’s easier for me to deal—he understands that we have a partnership…I feel like my master respects me. I cannot imagine feeling that with someone around race play.
Race play is being enjoyed in the privacy of bedrooms and publicly at BDSM parties, and it’s far from just black and white. It also includes “playing out” Nazi interrogations of Jews or Latino-on-black racism, and the players can be of any racial background and paired up in a number of ways (including a black man calling his black girlfriend a “ni**er bitch”). White master seeking black slave, however, seems the more popular of the combinations.
Though these articles may be old (and in this microwave internet-age, “old” being anything over 5 minutes), we see sexual and racial dynamics play out in more public narratives on a daily basis. We see it in the Negro Bed Wench ideology (which writers Shafiqah Hudson and Charing Ball break down here and here) that some Black men employ to shame and silence Black women for being in interracial relationships with White men. We see it in the intense reactions to ABC’s Scandal, which features a Black woman, actress Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, having an extramarital affair with the White President of the United States, Fitzgerald Grant, played by actor Tony Goldwyn.
Let’s be clear: Race is complex. Sex is complex. Trying to navigate feelings about authority, power, submission, racism and sex at the same damn time is an intensely personal experience that no one has to understand but the two (or three or four) people involved.
Unfortunately, an example of non-mutual race play went viral when Essence.com reader wrote that her White husband enjoyed calling her a “ni**er b**ch” during sex.
And passionate living life coach Abiola Abrams gave her the following advice:
Anything that two consenting adults agree to sexually is their business. Bold African-American sex educator Mollena Williams, who describes herself as “the perverted negress” and a “slave” on her Twitter page, is an expert on “race play.” She teaches that “for those who are drawn to explore deeper and deeper crevasses of our psyche, the desire to explore that taboo can be compelling.” However, this is not what you signed up for or something you sound even remotely interested in.
Your husband’s behavior and your acceptance of it have eroded the intimacy between you. The foundation of love is trust and a feeling of security.
That has to be the bottom line. If the individuals involved feel physically, emotionally and psychologically safe during race play, then, ultimately — no matter how much a major side-eye seems necessary — isn’t that all that matters?
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