I had an interesting exchange with someone who asked if black people really engaged in BDSM. Of course they do! They just tend to be more stealth about it. As the query continued, at the heart of the question was how could African Americans be drawn to BDSM when historically sexual exploitation and violence was inflicted on their bodies. It was a complex question with an equally complex answer.
The majority of black practitioners I interviewed made clear they don’t engage in “Race Play.” “Race Play” is when partners role play outside their ethnic group as the white “slave master” dominates black “slave,” or it can reverse, the black slave “masters or dominates” the white “owner.” I am told that there are some folks who do it-but again, not many because of the complex history and unresolved racial dynamics.
Ultimately, the answer to the fuller question can be found in the BDSM core credo of “safe, sane and consensual.” BDSM practitioners feel they have much more control in their play and sexual interactions because consent is so prominent throughout. Nothing happens that they have not explicitly shared or discussed with their partner. It is an empowering exchange between willing adults who choose to share their bodies. And therein lies the difference.