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  #61  
Old 10-06-2013, 09:13 PM
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Default Polyamory and Racial Minorities

I have a somewhat sensitive subject to talk about, and I don't know if it's been talked about before. If it has, let me know and I'll try to search for it, or post a link here and I'd be eternally grateful.

My question is, why does most of the poly population seem to be drawn from Caucasian (read: white and of European descent), and even especially well-educated and well-off Caucasian peoples? For example, why do African Americans seem to be largely "left out" of the poly movement? Can anyone suggest some ideas that would make such minorities feel more welcome, interested, and able to try out some poly practices, and even, mingle more with the "usual poly demographic?"

The local poly group I belong to is doing a potluck and discussion hour near the end of this month and they are going to try to discuss and address this problem (I assume I should consider it a problem). Whenever we meet together, it's always a bunch of standardized white folks meeting together. I'd love to see more diversity in our meetings. What are the chances something can be done to encourage that? I suppose we're partly out of luck, since New Mexico doesn't seem to have a large black population. (Does that represent part of the problem?) We do have a large Latino (and Native American) population though, so maybe there's a way we could reach out to those peoples?

I am rather stumped which is why I thought I should try tapping into Polyamory.com for persepctive, insight, etc.

Having mulled over it, I had an "oh shit" moment where I realized the same kind of disparity shows up almost every time one turns on the TV or visits the theater. What's the ratio of black-to-white actors, especially actors who play the main character? What about newscasters, aren't most of them white? It seems to me like African Americans are left out culturally in a number of areas. Sure official segregation is a thing of the past and progress has been made (e.g. an African American President for the first time ever), but I almost feel like we're pointing at them, and saying, "You don't belong." You see black folks in sports and music, but not in Hollywood. What's the reason?

I guess, then, that it isn't what you'd call a "polyamory problem" per se, it's more like a widespread cultural problem. I feel like there are large areas in the United States where most black folks don't feel safe or comfortable to live. In fact, doesn't the largest concentration of black population seem to be confined to the historic slave states? Gods, black people don't even feel like they can leave the geographic areas where they've always been oppressed the most. Maybe part of it is that all people tend to want to live near their relatives, and it's not like a whole family is going to simultaneously up and move across the country.

Is there a way white and black people can at least dialog with each other more? get to know each other better? I feel self-conscious about how little I know about what it's like to be an African American, what their hopes and fears and day-to-day lives entail. I feel like I have a vague, Hollywood-guided visual of all that. Is part of the problem a disparity in how much internet access people have? Would it help me to find or select some African American individual I've never met and see if we could become pen pals? How would I approach that; where would I start?

I kind of picture this wide, formidable chasm between white and black people, and nobody seems to know how to bridge that chasm. As I said I know we're making progress little by little, but what are some things I can do as an individual to be more helpful?

Maybe it's comparable to the problem of getting polyamory (and homosexuality, and kink) accepted by mainstream society. It takes a lot of struggle and it doesn't happen overnight. After all, one can also turn on the TV and see hardly any polyamorous characters depicted in almost any movie. Oh, polyamory is beginning to get some public attention, but slowly; very very slowly. And I'm sure we all remember what a big deal it was when Brokeback Mountain came out. So sometimes races are marginalized, and sometimes life choices are marginalized. Sooo ... is there a way all us marginalized folks can get together more? cling to each other for support? learn how to help each other better?

What are your thoughts in general on all these matters?
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
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Old 10-07-2013, 12:31 AM
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Stepping in with what might seem like a glib response, I'd like to say that the various racial minorities I spend time with are doing pretty much the same kind of thing as the racial majorities... It's not the action, it's the communication. If this were a political movement and there were organizers trying to build momentum and clout and voice, we'd be building coalitions of folks with like-minded interests. As is, forums like these and other areas of the world are images of the societies in which they exist.

Stated differently: there's plenty of poly-like behavior across all of society, and it's a question of finding the conversations and figuring out the different definitions and vocabularies.
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Old 10-07-2013, 01:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kdt26417 View Post
. . . I don't know if it's been talked about before. If it has, let me know and I'll try to search for it, or post a link here and I'd be eternally grateful.
Here ya go. From end of last year:

Polyamory and Ethnicity

In that thread, our member Hades36 posted a few times about his perspective on his local poly community as a black man married to a white woman. IIRC, he also stated a few times that the black community is very poly - they jjust don't callit that!
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Last edited by nycindie; 10-07-2013 at 01:32 AM.
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  #64  
Old 10-07-2013, 06:57 AM
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A few more comments relating to the discussions on this thread can be found at:
http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showt...450#post235450

I think the biggest insight I have gained from this thread is the idea that African Americans probably practice quite a bit of polyamory, just without calling it by that name. I am also thinking if you're black, you're more likely to want to be discreet about your non-traditional romantic practices. Reason being, you're already discriminated against because of your race; why add additional discrimination because of your life choices? So the advantage of an archtypical white polyamorist is that he/she can officially call himself a polyamorist, and feel comfortable getting together with others who share that moniker for formal poly events such as potlucks or whatever.

Even if that white polyamorist is closeted to his family, co-workers, and/or conventional friends, he/she still feels comfortable being a part of a formal, well, local poly community (and poly forums as well). It (perhaps) feels safe to wear an unconventional label when you're not already branded with a race label.

Granted I'm drawing a lot of intuitive conclusions here with zero empirical data. Do many black folks get together and have "poly potlucks" without calling them that? I wonder.

Since everyone here doesn't agree on whether "subconscious prejudice" is a thing, or a thing worth examining, I won't try to resolve that argument. I will muse that maybe I dodged the bullet? I find black people to be pretty attractive on average. I'll never forget one black lady in particular with whom I fell instantly in love, and would have asked her out in a heartbeat had the situation made it possible. But wait, does that mean I have another kind of subconscious prejudice? some type of a fetish where I want to "steal black women from the black men to whom they belong?" Uhh, well, I don't know. I just know I like to see differing races get together, mingle, talk, listen, date, marry, etc.

I think maybe my problem is just that I fall in love too easily. It's happened many times before -- when I was growing up in Utah, a state where you do not see many African Americans for some strange reason. What I mean is, my heart has gone thump-thump for quite a few white girls as well.

Getting back on topic, I think my concern is less that I'd like to see black and white polyamorists get together more, but rather, that I'd like to see black and white people of all romantic persuasions get together more. I think it is a bit of a pipe dream. That racial divide is still very deep. How can we get together if we can't even communicate across that divide? Perhaps we need a special website for different races getting together to talk. Since I'm a computer dunce, I'll hope someone out there with the know-how will volunteer to do the job. Or has the job been done/tried already? When will the time be right?
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:20 AM
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Thanks NYC. I posted a comment on that thread:
http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showt...504#post235504
Yes, I am a thread necromancer. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

I guess I feel good knowing African Americans are at least not excluded from the ability to choose polyamory (by any other name). Now if we could just figure out how to get those two groups of polyamorists together! I suppose "getting together" would be a considerably bigger risk for most African American "polyamorists." Just a fond thought I have, that maybe someday it'll happen.

I spent a short but intense while in Detroit serving as a missionary for the Mormon church. I baptized one guy there, and one baptism isn't much to speak of for your average missionary. But that one guy treated me like we'd been fast friends all our lives, took me on a few fun (but harmless) adventures in the city, and became a big part of me learning to love that ethnicity, to feel proud of the people of that city, honored to mingle with them, and now, decades later, I've left the church behind but that experience has stayed with me. I am grateful it happened. I miss the wonderful African Americans I met there. Considering I was a white guy, the descendent of slave-owners, you'd have thought they'd have been put off by my presence. But such was not the case. A lot of people treated me really, really well during those fondly-remembered months.

So, the notion of connecting the dots between the white and black communities is a notion that is near and dear to my heart.
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Old 10-07-2013, 09:02 AM
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I am from a black Caribbean background. In our culture, polyamory exists, sort of, in a DADT sort of capacity. It wasn't uncommon for a man to have several Mistresses that his wife knew of. Did she consent? Well, she didn't leave him, but that is probably due to cultural and religious expectations, the high incidence of domestic violence and lack of opportunities for women generally. The key thing that invalidates it from being "poly" in my book is that if, given the choice, she would have preferred to be in a monogamous relationship. Not every women, perhaps, but I'd say a lot would have because of their religious beliefs. And that's another reason why people probably wouldn't have been "out" even if they had the choice, the men I mean, because of the religious influence.

Overall, that's why I think there will be less ethnic minorities who would ID as poly even if they basically live a polyamorous lifestyle, simply because it isn't supported by religious scripture and therefore the communities that they belong to. This obviously assumes that someone from an ethnic minority is more influenced by religion than their Western Caucasian counterparts. Yes, North America especially has very religious groups of Caucasians, but even those groups do not practice polyandry, it's always polygamy, and is always "made good" with the religious blessing of marriage. It's not just some guy with a bunch of girlfriends. It has to be made "holy".
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Old 10-07-2013, 09:47 PM
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They always call it polygamy, but technically, if it's one man with multiple wives, it should be called polygyny. I know, I'm splitting hairs ...

So from what you're saying, the obstacles appear to be threefold:
  • religious beliefs,
  • lack of consent,
  • social pressure.
Sounds a little like a lot of the men there are chafing for a religiously-sanctioned system of patriarchal polygyny. It existed in Old Testament times; the Mormons had it; why can't we have it? so to speak.

By the way, most (not all) polyamorists are of of the opinion that "polyamory without consent" isn't really polyamory at all; it's just cheating. So even if these wives know about their husbands' girlfriends, if said wives are (in their hearts) opposed to it, then the men are really just conducting a collection of affairs. Consent is usually considered a really important part of genuine polyamory.

I also want to add my personal feeling that it sounds pretty unfair that the men can have extra women, but the women can't have extra men. Of course, that was always unfair. It was unfair when the Old Testament prophets did it, and it's unfair when the Mormons do it. (I say "Mormon" loosely because the "main Mormon church" has given up the practice, however several "break-off Mormon sects" still do it.)

Religiously sanctioned patriarchal polygyny (commonly known as polygamy) is actually okay if the women really honestly deep down in their hearts consent to it. But the problem is, what if that religion resorts to lifelong brainwashing to get this "consent?" It's like saying it's okay to have sexual relations with a child if the child consents. The child doesn't have enough experience in life to give genuine informed consent.

I guess I kind of wandered off-topic there, but let's just say those are some of my thoughts about men having relations with multiple women.

I appreciate your input.
Sincerely,
Kevin T.
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Old 10-08-2013, 08:59 AM
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Yes, I agree about the consent issues, and that's why I said it "sort of" exists. I mean, some women were like okay about it enough to ensure significant women in his life would be able to come to his funeral etc, others wouldn't and the "second family" would always be shunned. Financially and otherwise. But, with the consent thing, we have to accept that many Mono-poly relationships are exactly the same. Yes the mono party knows and allows it to continue for fear of losing the relationship or whatnot, but they are also opposed to it, "in their hearts". I have felt for a long time that invalidates the consensual element of the relationship, and believe it or not, it's mostly the fault of the mono person, because they always say "yes" when they mean "no".
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Old 10-08-2013, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nycindie View Post
Here ya go. From end of last year:

Polyamory and Ethnicity

In that thread, our member Hades36 posted a few times about his perspective on his local poly community as a black man married to a white woman. IIRC, he also stated a few times that the black community is very poly - they jjust don't callit that!
Back in this lol...

Yes, Black people are VERY POLY...but for some weird reason we don't call it that. Its actually a really deeply ingrained and accepted part of Black culture, at least from my experiences. Its funny, I had a conversation with a new female friend just recently. I had suggested she should try poly and she pooh-poohed it, said it was too weird, etc. BUT...she is seeing a married guy, and his wife knows about and accepts her, and she is also seeing two other guys who have their own women, and everyone knows about each other! I told her, "Well...um...you're already sorta doing it!"

I do wonder why Blacks don't just embrace it and call it what it is. Idk. I mean, I'm Black but when I talk about poly, other Blacks act like its just a "White thing"...smh...sad.
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Old 10-08-2013, 03:24 PM
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Wow, I just read your entire post. Loving it! I wish you lived closer to Philly. My wife and I are engaging in just this sort of dialogue with our community (Mount Airy, PA) about race (and gender, sexual orientation, spirituality, etc.) We do monthly Conversation Cafes where bring together a diverse group of people and have them engage on these very issues. I'm loving that you are wanting the same thing in your community!
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