- Editor's NoteEmbrace the Opportunity to Discuss Race and Sexuality
Now that the Association of Black Sexologists and Clinicians have completed its first International Lecture Series in Capetown, South Africa, we now turn our attention to our third national conference at Columbia College Chicago. The theme of the conference during Black History Month in 2018 is "Exploring the History, Art, and Aesthetics of Black Sexuality and Relationships." Given Columbia College Chicago's rich history as an art institute, we wanted to use this opportunity to have formal and informal conversations about how beautiful Black love, Black relationships, and Black sexuality can be. It is our vision to reframe contemporary discourse that sensationalizes or pathologizes relationships and how those relationships should be governed. For the conference, we seek proposals that articulate healthy forms of sexual and relational expression that honors the tenets of consent, safety, and pleasure.
I recently presented at a supervision conference in St. Louis and had to host a discussion about how race is managed/mismanaged in our organizations, practices, communities, and institutions. Participants had an opportunity to reflect and discuss how race, sexuality, oppression, white supremacy, and privilege evidence themselves in various contexts and the need for professionals to think differently about addressing these critical issues. Perhaps the final frontier of exploration and advancement in the field of sexology is to educate professionals about how to talk about racism without feeling as if they might be regarded as being insensitive. This can be somewhat tricky as some people of color (POC) struggle with abuse, ridicule, and trauma while talking about racism and some white professionals have difficulty navigating guilt, ignorance, empathy, privilege, and systemic oppression. When some professionals come together to talk about race and sexuality, conversations quickly become strained and individuals have difficulty managing their [End Page vii] feelings. At the conference, I also suggested that because some of us have a tough time talking about racism and sexuality, it may be advantageous for organizations to consider the possibility of constructing an ongoing series of trainings that focus specifically on the convergence of race and sexuality. Most sexuality educators are more than capable of discussing sexism, homo/transphobia, ableism, classism and other forms of oppression, but we REALLY have a tough time talking about the insidiousness and pervasiveness of racism.
I have had a number of opportunities to attend professional presentations that were devoted to talking about race and sexuality and most of them were really good and well attended. Unfortunately, the majority of the participants who attend the workshops are people of color which may create the impression that only POCs are interested in or need to discuss these sensitive issues. It feels like there have been a lot of missed opportunities for individual, professional, and organizational growth and I hope that we will be able to think and respond differently than what we've done in the past.
The Association of Black Sexologists and Clinicians(ABSC) and the Journal of Black Sexuality and Relationships (JBSR) are devoted to discussing how race and sexuality are intricately woven together. Professionals who share their ideas and use either of these two platforms have offered all of us opportunities to engage in dialogue that addresses the complexities of how individuals, couples, and communities function. Presentations at ABSC conferences and manuscripts published in the JBSR embed how race is inevitably part of our research and clinical efforts. Because our work typically tells our story, conversations take on a different resonance, affirmation, and response. It feels as if the organization and journal embrace the challenge to create and facilitate dialogue that has been needed in our field for decades. I am so proud of all of the hard work that everyone has put in to make the ABSC, the JBSR, and conferences serve as an exemplary model for hosting conversations about race and sexuality.
This issue of the journal has several articles that will contribute to conversations about race and sexuality. The first article by Mr. Wesley K. Thomas of the Society of Black Scholars in Human Sexuality, shares his work, "Blackness is quareness: Re-framing identity conversations for cisgender Black men to...