I don’t like white women. Or black women. Or Asian women or Latinas, for that matter. Okay, that was intentionally provocative and not wholly true. Now that you’re here, read on, please (it’s short).
A group members asks the Facebook group to be inclusive.
Dear Black & Poly, can we visit or revisit the question of whether all black people should be allowed in this group?
Recently, a post came up on our wall about whether it was appropriate to request a partner restrict dating to black people. While the question was simple enough, some responses (many of which have been redacted) argued that white people were enemies unworthy of our love. The idea of interracial relationships, or “swirling” makes some people here sick.
I’m mixed, so this felt intensely personal. Does the thought of me, a product of an interracial relationship, make you sick? I came here because I’m poly, and I’m tired of walking into a room of white people and feeling on the outs because a black woman like me is overlooked or not seen as beautiful or not understood. And here I walk into my black family, and in less than a month of joining this group, I feel even more rejected than I do by the white folks.
Yeah, I might be half white, but I face a lot of the same stigma. I deal with the systemic racism, the lower employment chances, the fear of police, the lack of representation in the media and government. People avoid me and assume I’m on welfare. From being kicked out of hair salons to being called the maid in my own apartment complex, I deal every day with the same mess.
If this group sees the white half of me as evil – that white half of me that was born and raised in Algeria during a civil war, the white half that almost died saving Algerian kids from being killed, the white half that worked on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after it escaped to safety, the white half that devoted its life to supporting the black African community here in the United States financially and emotionally for decades – then I don’t want to be a part of this group. And I think this group should seriously consider who it allows in, in the first place, because it’s crueler to say “we accept you as people” and then present rejection than it is to just say “no” in the first place.
We all know that there is no one experience of being black. Some of us are Southern, some of us are from the cities, some are from the suburbs, some are immigrants, and some are mixed. There are many more people than I’ve listed, and a bunch of us are in this group. It would be my personal preference to be as respectful of all of these experiences as possible, in the same way as we are as respectful towards all expressions of polyamory as possible.
So if your preference is to date one race, that hurts me a lot, but I can accept it. But if you see part of us black folk as the enemy because of how we are born or how we love, then rancor aside, let’s consider this as a group so those of us who don’t belong can form another community that will include people like us. Thanks for your understanding.
Editor's Note: Black & Poly is centered around black people and those who love them. Everyone, regardless of race, is welcome to participate in discussion. What do you think of our group's mission? Let us know in the comments.
Confession time! Tell us one of your poly mistakes.
Here's one of mine: I dated a poly person who's primary partner said she was never jealous. I believed everything he told me she felt, until one day she decided to veto me. Now I always offer to talk to metamours myself!
Comment yours below! (Note that Facebook comments are public.)
My Poly Journey
A cross post from Free Spirited Aqua on her poly journey.
I am happy to say I have been getting to know myself a lot better and understanding what polyamory means to me. This is what I found out so far.
1. I don’t see myself dating a couple. It would have to be a dynamic set of ladies for this to happen. In my experience, couples seem more concerned about their relationship then the other people involved. Not to say, they don’t care. I also understand, it’s a change and one must allow for adjustments. I think problems arise when unexpected connections happen.
2. I can no longer date monogamous women. I just realized our relationship orientation is so different, I don’t see this working for either of us. I want a free loving relationship that allows for connections with consent, respect and open communication.
3. I have to be okay being judged. Unfortunately many have not been able to get past the title. I have lost relationships and some friendships. Their misconceptions consume them more than sustaining their connection with me. Let’s see, “How many women would you have? Remember to be safe out there?” or other questions related to sex. Polyamory is about building relationships and love. Not extra sex. I’m offended that you would think I am not aware of or care about my sexual health. I am offended that you can’t reflect on what you already know of me and know that I will not do anything to intentionally bring myself harm.
Kiikii Santana shares her story of being in a polyamorous relationship. Originally posted in the Black and Poly Facebook group.
A bit over 2 years ago, I started dating someone who introduced me to poly. That dynamic became very toxic: I would question his intentions with me, she would manipulate both him and I separately, he was in the middle feeling like nothing he did or said was good enough. Some time last year they broke up, she and I stopped communicating, and we (he and I) still remained close. We have had miscommunications this year about a few things which has made our connection weaker than it's ever been.
Anyways, this year came and he's been working hard on himself. He's becoming a better version of himself - smiling more, learning more and more about himself each day, and I'm extremely happy for him. Our relationship is still stagnant, but now instead of it being his ex, it's his work schedule that has gotten in our way. He works two jobs and barely sleeps or eats, which is taking a toll on him, but he enjoys it in a way. He and I both know that there are some things we need to work on in order to reconnect.
That is the short version of how things have been between us.
When I came in the picture, he told me about his twin - a person he met online who is the female version of Him: same birthday, almost identical life story, etc. They mirror one another perfectly.
I've always been fascinated by them because of how identical they are, and I have always spoke to him about how they should finally meet and see how things go. He'd brush it off, thinking it wouldn't happen, but they finally met this year and they had a good time together--hectic but good.
Things between them are intensifying and I love it. I feel so happy and excited for them. Seeing him happy brings me happiness, and listening to him speak about her and how they speak about the future brings me so much joy, but it also brings me sadness.
I am sad because I feel left out. I feel sad, because I thought that after all we've been through together, we could at least rebuild our relationship - work on our communication, work on our friendship, reconnect, just get to know one another better, and have some time to do the things we have spoken about--create memories together, etc. Granted, we can still do so but it'll have to be another readjustment.
They speak about the future, what they want their poly to look like, household, BDSM, etc. And I just sit there and think "what about me?" I haven't felt secure in our relationship for a while. Just a few months ago, I went into a bit of a depression, because all of my insecurities resurfaced and I've started learning how to love myself and all, but I can't help but to feel envious about how they get to speak about things that I crave from him.
Like I said before, he introduced me to poly, and, him being the person he was, made me submit to him, but we haven't been able to experience any of BDSM power exchange. I've been very understanding, which he acknowledges, but I don't think he necessarily wants that from me. Yesterday, he said to me how he has been thinking about relocating closer to the state she lives in because of the job opportunities, lifestyles, etc. It took me by surprise, because the state she lives in is one that I thought about relocating to in the next few years because of all the things he has said. I never spoke to him about it, because we stopped speaking about things like that a long time ago.
He did say to me that he wants me to come with him, which made me smile, because again, I was thinking of relocating there at some point, and also because he thought of me and doesn't want to "leave me behind." But I also fear that maybe the reason why he doesn't want to leave me behind is because through all of the craziness we've experienced together, I've stuck around and have been patient and beyond understanding, so maybe he feels he owes me that.
Or maybe it is just me overthinking all of this?
I know he cares about me, and I don't want to have that same connection they have, because it is something special and something that I will eventually write a book about (with some twists). I just want him and I to strengthen our relationship.
Writing this helped me realize how deeply wounded I am and how I must heal and learn how to love myself, not just for him but for me. I honestly don't know what my point was in writing this, other than to vent and maybe get back some feedback. What I do know is that I am not feeling as overwhelmed as I was originally.
Evita Sawyers writes about the Everitt triad after their recent committment ceremony.
“What was your favorite part of the commitment ceremony?” I asked each member of the Everitt Triad. Sonya 28, Shallena 40, and Cliff, 40 recently tied the knot in a beautiful spring ceremony accented with coral, grey, and crème colors and delicate calla lilies. Shallena replied that the ceremony itself was her favorite part, while Sonya chose walking down the aisle towards Cliff and Shallena as her favorite memory. Both women mentioned seeing each other in their dresses because, while they both got custom gowns made of the same fabric, neither had seen the other one’s gown until the day of the wedding. Cliff’s answer was seeing Sonya with her father during the Father/Daughter dance. “Seeing Sonya with her Dad and knowing that he accepted us and approved of our union was very touching to me as a man.”
The Everitts have been a triad for four years. Shallena and Cliff were married for 14 years prior to meeting Sonya in summer of 2013. For edification purposes, a triad is a polyamorous dynamic in which three persons are all romantically involved with one another, creating a “triangle of love” if you will. The relationship started with Cliff and Sonya interacting in a Facebook group online, although Sonya and Shallena were the ones that went on a date together first. Sonya was only interested in Cliff first, but the relationship evolved. “Sonya was consistent,” Shallena said when I asked what made Sonya a match for them both.
Triads, especially Female/Male/Female ones, catch a lot of flak in the polyamorous community, with terms like “unicorns” and “unicorn hunters” being words that bring up negative connotations of couples preying on defenseless single bisexual women to force into relationship captivity. I have my own difficult experience when it comes to triads. Mine ended after a challenging two years together in 2016. Ironically, they are the most sought after dynamic and the one most publicly depicted. With the running narrative of triads being nearly impossible to maintain, especially within the black community, stories like the Everitts are rare.
“Cliff played a trick on me before he asked me to marry them, so I was mad at him,” Sonya laughed as she remembered the proposal. Cliff told her right before he asked that they wouldn’t be having a ceremony to throw her off the scent. “I like practical jokes,” he chuckled. Shallena did all of the wedding planning, with Cliff and Sonya pitching in where they could. “One of my biggest concerns was what the officiant would be saying,” Shallena told me, adding that she wrote the speech herself by tweaking a traditional wedding one she found online. The trio’s children, four girls and one boy, were all a part of the ceremony, and all three of their families were in attendance. “We’re out to all of our families,” Shallena said. For the honeymoon, they enjoyed a cruise to Bermuda. When asked what was next on their journey, they answered that getting the legal paperwork to recognize Sonya as their partner. They adamantly stressed that they would be having no more children.
I asked them what advice they would give to people seeking to build triads that weather the years of life, and they echoed what most polyamorous veterans would say: communicate, be patient, have realistic expectations, and be vulnerable. Shallena had a message especially for “wives” in triads: relinquish some of the control and enjoy the relationship that they are building with their new partner as well as the one that is being built between that partner and her spouse. “You’re building an entirely new relationship, not just adding on to the existing one,” she says. This was a personal struggle of mine during my own triad so I could definitely agree with her admonishment. “Believe that your relationship with them is special and has value,” Sonya advises.
As we laughed and talked, I was struck by how “normal” it all was. They were just a family in the middle of the evening routine: putting laundry away, dealing with the children, working together. It made me nostalgic myself for the family that I had once created. What I saw was simply people that loved each other that had decided to link themselves to one another and go through life together. Not much different from what people search for in monogamy, huh?
I want to thank the Everitt family for talking with me and for giving us a glimpse of a poly “Happily Ever After.” I’m also thankful for the opportunity to write this. Black love, abundant black love, in all the forms it comes in, is a beautiful thing.
Maya is an Arab-American polyamorist. Here she shares her story of sexuality, mental illness, and the power of family.
I’m a 26 year old woman, and I was born and raised in southern California to first generation Arab-American immigrants. My parents were very religious when I was young, and my siblings and I were taught to pray and fast. We all attended a religious private school at our local mosque for quite some time. At six years old, I asked my mother why I should believe in god if I couldn’t see him. She replied with the standard, “well, that’s what faith is.” I was completely dissatisfied with that. I wanted more, and I realized then and there that religion would never give me more.
Things shifted dramatically for my family following the September 11 attacks. It was a jolt that we needed, something that underscored a very distinct problem within our religion. My parents did a ton of research, which led to my mother deciding to remove the headscarf. Within our community this was such a dramatic and daring move, I can’t even explain it. With my family shaken but thrust into a period of real digging and exploration, life went on. In middle school, I began having little crushes on other girls in my class. I remember watching a certain Beyonce music video over and over, not really knowing why I liked it so much. I never acted on my feelings and didn’t bother telling anyone, mostly because I knew I was attracted to boys too. So my homosexual tendencies weren’t really at the forefront of my mind.
Once I had finished up high school and began to attend college, I began to struggle. Having been labeled as this bright and happy girl for so long, I crashed when I was left to my own devices because I realized that that wasn’t really me. I had so many unanswered questions, and I was very confused about who I was or where I fit in. I’d always been an emotional eater, so I gained a lot of weight during my first year of college. I also began noticing other women more often, possibly because my self-confidence was near-zero around men. I still wasn’t ready to address my bisexuality.
After finishing up college and successfully coming out to my parents and family with an overwhelmingly positive reaction, I moved away from California for graduate school. This was my first time ever living completely alone. Up until that point, I’d always lived with my siblings or immediate family. I gained a lot of weight once again (60 pounds in one year!) and drank a lot. I did well in school, but that was the only thing in life I was keeping somewhat organized. I was struggling in a very real way. Toward the end of my first year of grad school, I met a woman in my program whom I liked, and I finally had my first kiss at 24 years old. It was sensual, soft, and fulfilling.
That summer, I left to travel overseas and have weight loss surgery. I’m 5’6″ and my highest weight was 236. Since then, I’ve lost over 80 pounds. I returned to complete my second year of graduate school and this is when my period of “heavy dating” began. I went on four or five dates per week. I drank a lot during my dates, even though I wasn’t supposed to be drinking at all right after having surgery. It was reckless and unhealthy. I would fade after seeing someone a few times, because I was afraid of having sex for the first time. I’d never been confident about my naked body. Mental images of perfect, cellulite-free models haunted me and made me feel like shit about myself.
I graduated from my Master’s program and got a job in academia. I began drinking even more. I was seeing someone who I didn’t really care for, and after a long day of drinking and smoking weed, I decided, fuck it! We had sex on July 4th, 2016. My body was on fire; it hurt so much. I was bleeding profusely. We got out of bed afterward and sat outside to watch the fireworks. He began discussing the war in Iraq and made some comments regarding the murder of civilians that still make me shudder. He topped it all off with some xenophobic and racist comments about Arabs and Muslims, knowing full well what my religious background and ethnicity were. I left his house like I was dreaming, in so much physical and emotional pain that I didn’t know what to do. I went to work the next morning and texted him that I didn’t want to see him anymore. I don’t think about him at all.
That same week, I met someone at a bar and had a one night stand. From there, I had roughly fifteen casual sex encounters (thankfully I always used protection) over the next two months. I didn’t know how to ask for what I wanted in bed because I didn’t know what I wanted, so I often ended up being used by people just to get off. I was very aware of that.
I began to feel distinctly bored, empty, and unhappy. I’d been going to therapy and taking antidepressants for years because I’d always been anxious and sort of depressed, but combining the alcohol with prescription drugs was not working well for me. I fell into a pit of depression, HARD. I couldn’t focus on work, so I was falling behind. I was calling my parents long distance every day at lunch to cry over the phone. They didn’t know what was going on and I wouldn’t tell them because I was so ashamed that I was drinking and having sex. I switched medications, and that’s when the shit hit the fan. Suicidal thoughts overwhelmed me. What pushed me over the edge was receiving a formal warning at work. I planned to kill myself that afternoon. I picked up a bottle of liquor from the store on my way home and had a Xanax prescription waiting for me at the pharmacy. I was driving to the pharmacy when I unconsciously reached for my phone. Seriously, I don’t even know how or why I did it. I don’t remember.
I called my mom, who lives in a timezone twelve hours ahead and was asleep. She woke up and picked up the phone. I was sobbing so hard I thought I would never stop. My heart was broken and I had to finally ask for help. I did. My mom, a very mild-mannered and soft-spoken woman, is the strongest person I know. She asked me to promise her that I wouldn’t hurt myself. She asked if I would throw out the bottle of liquor and just go home and rest for the day. She told me that she was going to support me no matter what. That my whole family was standing behind me if I would let them. We agreed that it would be best for me to quit my job and move back to California to figure things out. I hung up the phone, and the time was 5:02pm. The pharmacy had closed at 5.
At 6am the next morning, I received a phone call. It was my brother, and he was in front of my apartment building. He had taken a flight across the country with two layovers so that he could get to me as soon as possible. Still dazed and feeling worn out from the day before, I fell apart when I saw him. We were headed back to California within a week.
I was not myself for a while after that. My parents came to visit me a couple of weeks later, and I could tell they were shocked when they saw me. I was on a heavy dose of benzodiazepines; I wasn’t eating at all; I was smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee around the clock. I’m sure I must have looked dead behind the eyes. I was having lots of sex, still sort of meaningless and unsatisfying, but I had a lot of time on my hands and I was restless. I jumped into bed on the first date pretty consistently, and I could never really figure out why I still had so much energy when I was being so active with so many partners. Now I know that it’s because the sex didn’t hit me on any emotional level, so while it was physically draining, it didn’t affect me mentally. I was always overthinking, not at peace, and generally unhappy.
Strangely, and I think this is important to mention because of this post’s topic, I have never felt guilty about having pre-marital sex. On the contrary, I’ve always been pretty opposed to the idea of getting married and settling down, so this just seems to be the only viable way to live my life.
I had my first meaningful sexual relationship around October of last year. I was still fragile and recovering. I hadn’t had a drink since mid-August, before my breakdown. I was being weaned off my medications and doing okay. That’s when my partner brought up the question of exclusivity: did I want it? My knee-jerk reaction, much to my surprise, was no. I enjoyed our relationship but I saw no need to restrict myself from seeing other people. He was definitely monogamous, and the breakup was drawn-out and unhappy.
Since then, I’ve learned to be selective about taking on partners. I’ve learned to ask for what I want in bed. I’ve learned to be a good lover and a mature partner. I identify as solopoly because I need a lot of time to myself, and the pressure of a primary relationship feels like too much at this point in my life. That being said, my experiences have been fantastic. I’m assertive, mostly dominant, and I have found some remarkable people who like to play with boundaries and explore some crazy fun things with me. It feels insanely good to be giving in bed, to be kind to someone in some small way, like gently stroking their neck or giving them a kiss when they least expect it. The intimacy that comes along with sexual contact is something I struggle with, because I went without it for so long. I am learning to open up and let my guard down with partners.
It mostly happened during the unhappiest time of my life, but there you go. My story. And maybe my point in spilling all this is to say that we can all rise up and that each one of us can break free and find a place of comfort, of satisfaction. I found mine in polyamory. I can never completely reconcile my cultural identity with my sexual identity, but I can definitely find some peace in specific places that I’ve created for myself.
Have you struggled with faith, mental illness, and sexuality? Share your story!