I am delighted by the engagement and dialogue that was initiated by yesterday’s facebook post by 50 SHADES OF BLACK special contributor Kristen Alyce centered on Beyonce’s recent GQ Magazine cover. This post ushered in what will soon be a more central focus of the 50 SHADES OF BLACK project on the role and function of sexuality in the formation of identity.
50 SHADES OF BLACK has always been a multi-fold project. Its title is a play on words that on the one hand references color –a palate or spectrum, if you will, of color. It was created to bring to the forefront issues surrounding color and shades of human pigmentation AND consequently the global impact of this differentiation or diversity on communities and individuals. There is so much more that can be said about this singular aspect of the project. Nevertheless, this aspect of the project has been the project’s central focus up to this point in terms of the posts, the photos, and the discussion via our various social media outlets.
50 SHADES OF BLACK, however, as a title also makes one mentally connect to a wildly popular fiction novel series that has, for better or for worse, repackaged an international dialogue about sex, sexuality, and sexual preferences. It is here that we establish our second central focus and also seek to engage in a community dialogue.
50 SHADES OF BLACK, in the most ideal sense, resides at the intersection of these two central foci.
What is healthy sexual expression? Who gets to decide? How does race or skin tone play a part in the decision? Are certain sexual preferences, practices, or expressions more taboo in one ethnic community over another? Does skin tone play a role in one’s sexual preference or desire? What are some of the sexual myths that are associated with various groups? In what ways are groups exploited, heralded, discriminated against, marginalized, normalized based on gender, sexual orientation, skin tone? What does love have to do with it…any of it…and can it challenge us to rethink all else?
In this season of football playoffs, an upcoming Super Bowl, and a “don’t forget to insert the corporate brand name Pepsi here” half time show performance by the one and only Beyonce’, we mark the introduction (and in many ways continuation) of a conversation about sex.
Critical to this conversation will be the voices of 50 SHADES OF BLACK special contributors Scottie Lowe of Afroerotik and along with contributions from Charles Stephens, Kristen Alyce, and many others. We are also fortunate to have visual images by Andrew Thomas Clifton that will visually enrich the conversation. Contributions from all of these individuals will be featured in our upcoming book and I could not be more proud to have them on board.
So…let’s talk now about sex (and other stuff).
50 SHADES OF BLACK –a project about sexuality and skin tone in the formation of identity.
-Carlton Mackey Creator, 50 SHADES OF BLACK