Race is a dangerous topic for a writer. So, of course, is sex. Combine the two and you have an explosive mixture ready to ignite the outrage of readers from all regions of the racial, ideological and cultural spectrum. As an author – or a reviewer – considering race is bound to open you to accusations of prejudice and stereotyping. Even the height of political correctness can be read as ignorance or arrogance. How do you tell the truth without kindling someone's ire?
History provides one truth. In the U.S., and elsewhere, blacks have suffered as literal slaves, possessions rather than people – abused, controlled, bought and sold, subjected to almost unimaginable cruelty and degradation. Sexual oppression – rape, secret “perversion”, unwanted pregnancy - was a very real part of this history, with power differentials an inescapable element of the erotic equation.
Scottie Lowe recognizes another truth: the cultural relics of slavery still fuel dark fantasies on both sides of the racial divide. Interracial sex, for many, is still associated with imbalances of power – edged with cruelty or disdain, spiked by sentiments of guilt or defilement. There's no point asking whether such fantasies are evil – they exist, and they can be intense and compelling, deriving at least some of their potency from their historical echoes and from the consequent lure of the forbidden.
I applaud the courage it takes to bring these controversial fantasies to life on the page.
Ms. Lowe begins her collection of interracial erotic tales with a snippet in which a provocatively-dressed blonde goes slumming in the ghetto, looking to “scratch an itch.” The woman encounters a gang of uneducated, thuggish, shaved-head homies playing basketball in a vacant lot. The author continues:
Thus begins the vast majority of interracial erotica. The white character is the central focus, hiding their desire for “dark meat” from their white-bread, colorless world and the Black characters are barely literate ghetto dwellers with an insatiable lust for white flesh. Black women are sure to roll their necks and Black men are all hung like horses and just standing around waiting to fuck white women who get lost in the hood.
If that's what turns you on, this is not the book for you.
In the sixteen stories that follow, Ms. Lowe sets out to defy these stereotypes. Her black characters are well-to-do and cultured, professionals or artists, articulate and self-assured. They find physical attraction, sexual satisfaction, and emotional completion with members of their own race, rather than viewing whites as particularly desirable. They see themselves as the heirs of ancient Africa, not the descendants of slaves.
On the other hand, while rejecting some stereotypes, Ms. Lowe blithely perpetuates others. She portrays whites, both men and women, as fundamentally neurotic, dishonest, not in touch with their real selves, pale, clumsy, weak, sexually inadequate, and inevitably drawn to the power and beauty of their black mistresses and masters. White men have tiny penises, unlike their black counterparts (who tend to be more than adequately endowed, despite the protests above). In story after story, whites of both genders abase themselves, dying to be used as cum sluts and flesh toilets, eagerly serving the base physical needs of the blacks whom they admire. Indeed, it is in this service that they find both sexual and spiritual fulfillment. Their fundamental nature is to submit to the superior black race.
As an acknowledged submissive, I will admit that some of these stories aroused me, though more because of the power games than the racial dynamics. Normally I wouldn't discuss my personal sexual experiences and preferences in a review, but given the delicacy of the racial issue, I feel compelled to add that I've had sexual relationships with several black men (though never a black woman) and that I frequently find dark-complected individuals attractive. At the same time, race play (as distinguished from D/s) is not something that particularly pushes my buttons.
After a while, I found these tales of ludicrous, pathetic whites debasing themselves to serve noble and powerful blacks began to get a bit boring. In addition, the author's blanket pronouncements about the nature of whites started to annoy me.
[Cynthia] was, and is, so very typical of white women all across the country, in every town, in every city who feign indignation, shock, horror and conservative outrage at anyone who gets caught cheating, while she is committing the very sin herself. And because race is still such a taboo subject, and because Black sexuality is so deeply entrenched in white America's secret lusts, it was not hard for her to rationalize that her husband would NEVER in a million years understand her desire to be an insatiable, cock-sucking slut for a very well-hung Black man.
I'm sure that these generalizations are true of some people, but not all. Isn't this as bad as claiming that typically black men are horny animals who can't get enough white booty?
A few stories took a different tack, much to my relief. “In the Heat of the Night” begins:
It was steamy night in Atlanta and there was a power outage. There was no light except from that of the waxing moon that hung low in the sky, all the entire city could do was sit and sweat and sit and sweat some more. Luckily I live on the top floor of my condo so I could go outside naked as the day I was born and enjoy a little breeze without anyone peeking at me.
Ebony, the heroine of this sensual tale, gets a call from her white downstairs neighbor Kristen, begging to come up to the roof to get some air. As you might expect, the two women generate even a good deal more heat as they consummate their mutual attraction. While there weren't many complexities in this story, it stands out in this collection because of the equal relationship between the black and white lovers.
“Taking It to the Hole” provides a comparably egalitarian M/M scenario. A closeted gay Italian-American from Brooklyn hooks up with a gorgeous, sensitive black artist named Flex, and learns that he can receive as well as give pleasure.
“Dominant Black Tales,” as suggested by the title, concerns a D/s relationship between a black Mistress and Master and Bryan, a married, suburban white man who can't control his secret hunger for black domination. What makes this story interesting is the fact that the dominant couple lure Bryan's wife into the D/s games as well. The previously estranged couple finds a new connection in admitting and acting on their racially-oriented submissive lusts. The author appears to have a bit more respect for these white characters than she does in many of the other stories.
Finally, I liked “Queening for a Day.” Although this story once again features a white male submitting to a dominant black woman, the characterization felt more subtle and realistic than in most of the other offerings in Minority Affairs. Furthermore, this story features a more gradual buildup in sexual tension, although it eventually blossoms into a D/s scene as extreme (and for me, arousing) as any of Ms. Lowe's tales.
Given that it has no ISBN, I suspect that Minority Affairs was self-published. Ms. Lowe would have done well to hire an editor before sending her erotic visions out into the world. Although the book includes some examples of considerable insight and is often erotic, the writing in many places is rough and amateurish, with run on sentences (note the quote from “In the Heat of the Night”), grammatical errors, and point-of-view problems (the dreaded “head-hopping”). The author also has a tendency to insert herself into the story, introducing her tales with lengthy analytical commentary, and to dump information about characters in a declarative mode rather than allowing them to reveal themselves through their actions.
Many readers might not care. Personally, I find these sorts of problems seriously interfere with my enjoyment of a book.
Before I close this review, I should mention that Minority Affairs also includes several series of interracial erotic photographs which provide a pleasing counterpoint to the text. In these illustrations, white and black individuals are equal partners in passion.
Minority Affairs feels very personal to me. I could of course be wrong, but the thematic repetition makes me suspect that Ms. Lowe was sharing sexual scenarios she herself finds arousing. One has to respect her level of honesty, even while noting that she is no more immune to stereotyped interracial fantasies than anyone else.
We could pretend that such fantasies don't exist - but sex is not nice, or safe, or politically correct, and never will be.