Special Topics: Women's Studies
Professor Soyoung Park
Racism and Heterosexuality
Patricia Hill Collin's Prison's for our Bodies, Closest for our Minds stresses several issues of African American orientation identification. There seems to be a dominating stereotype that non-white people, specifically those of African descent are strictly heterosexual. This notion, however, is obviously not the case. How did this idea of African Americans only having hetero-based desires come into play? Simply put, racism and heterosexuality are integrated.
"American historians point to the significance of sexuality to chattel slavery. In the United States, for example, slave-owners relied on an ideology of Black sexual deviance to regulate and exploit enslaved Africans" (Collins, 115). In other words, sexual exploitation was another form of control the white, male plantation owners and slave-traders would use in order to maintain their position of power, and because this abuse is always attached to slavery, the idea of (African American women, specifically) heterosexuality is reaffirmed.
To be African American in the United States is to be in a metaphorical prison of constant oppression. Racism creates a barrier between a falsified reality of orientation-based ideals and the true reality, that African Americans are just as equal under the spectrum of gender, sexual, and cultural diversity as anyone else.