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The delightful Andrea Plaid, aka @CruelSecretary on Twitter contacted me, asking about Race Play. There was a bit of a heated debate on this Justin Timberlake / Ciara video, see, and she thoughtfully wanted to find a POC into kink to get their POV. Of course, my immediate reaction was "Well, sure, I'll talk about it." Then my secondary reaction was "OMG Mollena, you blithering idiot! You're risking being thrown to the fucking dogs if you move outside of the kink community to talk about this shit! They can't even accept BDSM, and you're gonna give them AP level shit that even some hardcore pervs find distasteful! Dumbass. Really."


It made me nervous. Vulnerable, scared. I don't enjoy the idea of people talking shit about me.


SO, of course, I said yes.



Andrea Plaid: OK...what is race play?


Mo: That one I got down! Been working on it for a while! I define "Race Play," in broad terms, as any type of play that openly embraces and explores the (either "real" or assumed) racial identity of the players within the context of a BDSM scene. The prime motive in a "Race Play" scene is to underscore and investigate the challenges of racial or cultural differences.


Andrea Plaid: Would you mind giving an example of race play?


Mo: There are the obvious ones; we in the U.S. like to think we have cornered the market on racial politics. So obviously people go for Antebellum south slavery stuff. But even there, there are many variations.


Andrea Plaid: Yep. Especially on the U.S. thinking we've got a lock on racial politics thang.


Mo: You can have the white Master / black slave thing. You can have a tables-turned scenario, with a slave seducing the master, blackmailing them. The "Mandingo" black stud thing. And let us not forget we owned one another. And let us not forget the skin color caste system! High yellow versus dark skinned.


Andrea Plaid: So we can get into the black slavemaster / black slave thing, too.


Mo: Yes, of course. The only limit is your imagination. This expands to a lot of sins in this country.


Andrea Plaid: How so?


Mo: Whites vs Native Americans.


Andrea Plaid: Yes! The white settler / Native American "squaw" or "chief" fantasy.


Mo: The internment camps where we packed up Japanese Americans. But it isn't just us...how about a captured Iraqi prisoner tortured by Marines? Or a Sinn F¨¦in extremist being interrogated by a rogue SIS agent? Or a dark-skinned Indian person avenging themselves on a lighter-skinned higher-caste individual? It goes on and on. North vs South Koreans. Hutu vs Tutsi. It is a Human Thing.

This is part of the reason I boggle at the knee-jerk reaction people have. The fact that something is scary, dangerous, real: why does this mean you should not explore it? For fuck's sake, driving a car is dangerous. Falling in love is dangerous.

Understanding that part of the draw, to me, of BDSM is that it tests my fortitude in this body and in this mind and with this heat is what keeps me doing it. How the fuck am I going to let something stop me because it is scary.


Andrea Plaid: But we both know folks aren't going to see it that way. They want to use that very real painful history to not think of it as fantasy fodder.


Mo: Sure. And more power to them. Not everyone volunteers to be hit with a whip traveling at the speed of sound either. But I do it because it fascinates me.


Andrea Plaid: But, I suspect, some folks give it too much power. They use it as a way to police the desires of others. As you saw on the threads for my and Latoya's posts.


Mo: And I understand that. But the root of all of that is fear. Straight up. Fear that you will be judged by the acts of others. Fear that there is something out there you cannot understand.


Andrea Plaid: Dig that.


Mo: Also, fear that it fascinates you, and that perhaps you are "one of those perverts." That is often a deep rooted factor, too. I have a very high capacity for empathy. Which is great! However. It doesn't discriminate. I can empathize with many types of people, even those some would consider evil. Like sadists. So I can explore that in the relatively safe corral of BDSM, and see how it is to be aroused by the pain of others.


Andrea Plaid: But I think folks want good and evil easily and quickly drawn.


Mo: Yes. And that is a bummer, because evil is delicious. We all know this. That is why movies and stories have to have "bad guys" and "evil villainesses." And they have to be sexy somehow. Because we are living entropic systems and we crave destruction on some level. Circle of life, baby. *lol*

The idea that someone might hate you purely because of your identity is horrific. It dehumanizes you, and it makes you "less than." So, in the context of BDSM, it is fair game for that type of play.


Andrea Plaid: And words like "normal" as in "normal" sex, which some folks wouldn't consider BDSM and race play get employed to convey "good."


Mo: Right. If you do that "kinky shit" you cannot, by definition, be mentally sound. Or you have some agenda.


Andrea Plaid: Like not uplifting The Race! (Insert PoC group here)


Mo: Yeah. My vagina isn't really interested in uplifting the race.


Andrea Plaid: LOL!


Mo: What pussy wants is fucked up stuff, really dark scenarios that test the boundaries and cut with an exhilarating level of danger. Stepping razor dangerous, like the song goes.


Andrea Plaid: Next question: how is race play similar and different from BDSM? If it is any different?


Mo: It isn't different from BDSM; it is an aspect of BDSM. It can encompass many different aspects. Obviously, role-playing comes to mind.


Andrea Plaid: Right.


Mo: In the same way that a pair of stilettos and a pair of flip flops are both shoes, race play and a spanking, for example, can all be aspects of BDSM. But different types of people are going to find one or the other sexier.


Andrea Plaid: (I had a commenter say a person who's into BDSM may not do race play and vice versa.)


Mo: Oh, the vast majority of kinky people would never admit to doing racially based play or fantasizing about it because of the PC thing.


Andrea Plaid: Yeah, kinda figured that.


Mo: My thinking is this: in the same way pendulums have to swing to reach equilibrium, the BDSM community has to breathe around this aspect of kink. And as to those who are non-kink identified, it is even more challenging. They have a double hurdle: Groking* kink at all, then groking one of the most controversial types of play.


Andrea Plaid: And that gets read on the outside of the communities that white folks want to re-enact slavery again, and BDSM may be that vehicle. Ergo, "Keep BDSM away!" ::horror-film scream::


Mo: Yeah, because kink is a gateway drug for racism. Please.


Andrea Plaid: LOL! As my gurl F******** and I say, "Roll credits!"


Mo: You know what the problem is...people do not want to think.


Andrea Plaid: Bingo!


Mo: ...people do not want to feel. It is risky. And because I feel a lot and think "too much," as my kid sister is fond of observing, they assume a lot about me. But no one wants to just ask me. They'd rather run around online talkin' 'bout they gonna "beat the ass of anyone that they see doing some race play bullshit." And not in a good way.


Andrea Plaid: What I'm running into is people want to do those things and use 1) white folks, 2) the ancestors, and 3) the children as their reasoning to not even think about the issue.


Mo: Most "white folks" (meaningless term, blah blah) are more uncomfortable around this than you know. And I have spoken with the ancestors. They are delighted that I can fucking choose to do this for a few bloody hours.


Andrea Plaid: Really...please tell me more.


Mo: I can go into the Big Ass Ice Cream Parlor of Racism and have a sample spoon, and leave.


Andrea Plaid: LOL!


Mo: I'm not trapped there being force fed the Rocky Road Ice Cream of Oppression until I am sick. Yanno? It is all about choice.


Andrea Plaid: And consent.


Mo: I hope people fucking get that. Understand this one thing and then you'll be well on the pathway.


Andrea Plaid: That's what folks got tripped up about with the Ciara/Justin Timberlake (Love Sex Magic) video.


Mo: Look, I have never lived in the South on a plantation and felt the terror of my life every moment at the hands and whims of an owner or of another slave with an agenda. However! I can pretend. And in a very real emotional sense, I have tasted what that is like. It is a screaming band of pain that still resonates in this country, on this fucking planet, you know. But it is just under the radar. I can hear it when I play there. I experience it. It is a terror that I can't completely understand. But one thing I learned in this play: resistance is harder than it looks.


Andrea Plaid: Then the question comes back: "But why would you want to do that? Can't you just look at lynching pix and get the damn point?" (I'm being facetious...and to some folks, quite blasphemous. But I'm going there...)


Mo: Why? Because I live viscerally. I obtain a profound benefit to living the reality as deeply as I can emotionally. In the race play scenes I have done that involved black / white dynamics, do you know what the scariest thing was? That I ultimately gave up. I am not of the resistant blood. I'm a quitter. I was afraid, I gave in. That is a lot to have about your nature revealed.


Andrea Plaid: What did it reveal?


Mo: That I am, at heart, obedient.


Andrea Plaid: Hmm...I think I'm getting to what you're saying.


Mo: Even in a scene where I had disassociated and genuinely feared for my life, I gave up. I'm genuinely, at the core, submissive in a way I am certain does not translate to my present-day self! I hoped it would be quick and over fast.


Andrea Plaid: Obedient...to whom?


Mo: Obedient to authority.


Andrea Plaid: I think I'm getting it...groking it.


Mo: *lol* win! We all like to think we'd be Kunta fucking Kinte.


Andrea Plaid: ¡®Cause that's the narrative we're fed from yea-high. "We gotta be strong in the face of whitey, y'all."


Mo: Sure, go ahead and be strong in the face of whitey. But if you get hot because whitey has beaten your ass and taken you down...but you endured...then you have a whole new lease on life, man.

In honesty, there were millions of us enslaved by a few hundred thousand people. Jews were systematically destroyed by Nazis in camps where there were many, many more prisoners than guards.


Andrea Plaid: I remember someone saying the biggest damage the Nazis did to Jews was psychological.


Mo: It is true, they had people walk to their own deaths. Fucking horrific. And yet if someone of Jewish descent wants to have a Nazi interrogation scene, to sip a bit of that bitter, bitter cup, who the fuck are you to say that is wrong? Doing race play is hard. It isn't some walk in the fucking park. And finding people I trust enough to do it with is almost impossible. Because it is hard. And they are at risk.


Andrea Plaid: It's like we hold the painful history and a sacred mythology that is not to be blasphemized *as a sacred mythology.*


Mo: But it is not blasphemy to want to touch that wound. You can't heal something in your soul by letting it remain in its original state of pain. It has to be touched. Otherwise it will never heal.


Andrea Plaid: And being as puritanical as we are about sex, we wield that history when it comes to our sex lives. The double bind.


Mo: I am not recommending that people run out and play Aunt Jemima / Uncle Tom games with any random cracka ass cracka, for the love of Ganesha. I'm saying that, if this intrigues you, think about why. And I am saying it if repulses you, think about why. Really think. Don't do some knee-jerk bullshit. And Black folks in the U.S. are not known for being sexually liberated. Which is why the hypersexualization of our imagery over the years is a double helix of irony.


Andrea Plaid: But that wound also gives us an identity. And, like I've said to folks before, we love self-mythologies, sacred stories we tell about ourselves.

"And Black folks in the U.S. are not known for being sexually liberated. Which is why the hypersexualization of our imagery over the years is a double helix of irony." Can I get a witness. You said it right there.


Andrea Plaid: Next question: How did you get into the race play scene? What has been the reaction you've received?


Mo: Well...the first conscious stirrings I had about being submissive were around some fantasies I shared with a former lover, a very explosive short affair. Years later we were on the phone one day and having some nasty talk, and he made some comment about how I'd be an awful slave, and I was totally insulted!!! LOL!


Andrea Plaid: So what happened?


Mo: So I decided to write a politically incorrect bedtime story. Because when something trips me out, I gotta get elbow deep in it. So, I wrote this little story set back in the day, white master, black slave, blah blah, and I kept adding to it. And it was, I thought, possibly the Worst Thing Anyone had Ever Written. So, of course I started showing it to people, so that someone would have me committed. No one did. People loved it.


Andrea Plaid: Knew it!


Mo: Black people, white people, they thought it was intriguing and sexy. And challenging. I had a friend...very radical black feminist. I showed it to her because I was feeling like, okay, she would shred me apart. And then I would be sufficiently punished.


Andrea Plaid: ...And she loved it, didn't she?


Mo: My girl read the shit and called me in the middle of the night talking about how I needed to get out of her head!!! I was like "Oh shit."


Andrea Plaid: Whoa! Right the hell on!


Mo: So the idea just lived there in my guts, waiting. My first "Official Dominant" had no interest in race play, never wanted to go there. So, we didn't. And that was my first two years in the BDSM community right there. He couldn't bring himself to say "the N word" even in conversation. Let alone in scene.


Andrea Plaid: Did you eventually find someone who'd race-play with you?


Mo: Oh, yeah. Someone of Jewish descent, of course.


Andrea Plaid: Ooh...gurl, you're gonna send me to hell.


Mo: I know. I rule. He was the first person who had no problem with it. Subsequently, I've done racially boundaried scenes with one British person, two white Americans, and one Mexican.


Andrea Plaid: Indeed! And you've been the sub or have you switched?


Mo: I haven't switched. That is a rarity for me in play in general. Though I do have a certain delightful revenge fantasy about fucking the shit outta some guy with a ginormous strap-on. But we don't talk about that...I don't have the time to answer all of the offers I'd get if I put that out there. Seriously.


Andrea Plaid: 'cause you know they'll come...no pun intended.


Mo: You know?!? I could make it a full time job.


Andrea Plaid: In this economy? I think folks may be a bit empathetic.


-- end of part 1 --

*Grok(king) means "to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed-to merge, blend, intermarry, lose identity in group experience. It means almost everything that we mean by religion, philosophy, and science-and it means as little to us (because of our Earthly assumptions) as color means to a blind man."






*************** To Be Continued ***************






Mollena Williams is a writer, performer, actress, pervert, sex educator, kinky plus-size model,Serial Twitter Abuser / Addict, and submissive masochist. She has been performing for 35 years, kinky for 25 years and teaching nationally about kink for 9 years. That's a lot to fit into 40 years, but she is nothing a multi-tasker. Her thoughts on BDSM and Alternative Lifestyle issues appears in Prometheus and ColorLines magazines, ALT.com, Bondage.com, and on her blog The Perverted Negress.


AJ Plaid is a writer and speaker on race, sex, and politics. She writes as the Sexual Correspondent for Racialicious, the award-winning blog on race and popular culture. She also runs her own blog on race and sex,The Cruel Secretary. Her perspective on race, gender, and sex has been featured in Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Bitch.