It’s just sex, right?
That’s what people want to boil it down to. This morning the Root is running two pieces on “sex tourism” to Brazil and other “third world” locales. I pen a direct review of Jewel Woods and Karen Hunter’s book “Don’t Blame it on Rio” and Mark Sawyer does a indirect review of the book as he discusses the representation of Brazilian women in American popular imagination and scholarship.
I decided to write the review after traveling to Boca Chica, Dominican Republic and seeing many of the things that Woods wrote about come to life. I think that the book can open a dialogue that we are seriously in need of around Black middle class men and the lack of accountability that we are allowed to operate with. Yes Virginia, Black male privilege does exist and we need to uncover it, discuss it, and act upon it. Give my piece a read here. No doubt that many of the responses will try to compartmentalize the actions of these “prostituting” brothas, or claim it’s just like sex tourism from other groups, but I think even if it’s like processes that happen in other groups, we really need to begin to address it with care, because it’s having serious effects.
Mark Sawyer, a scholar I respect very much, does a great job of discussing the relationship between “developed” and “developing” nations and characterizations of women. While Sawyer pans Woods and Hunter’s book, he then goes on to suggest there is something that makes Westerners look upon Brazilian women, and others, as mere sexual objects. I’d contend that thing is male privilege coupled with financial capital … which are central to Woods and Hunter’s book. Additionally, Sawyer brings up a question that was troubling me as I read “Don’t Blame it on Rio,” who are Black women? It is likely that many of the women that these Black male tourists are cavorting with are of African descent, but this Diasporic connection becomes dissolved into sex. By saying being with women from Brazil, DR, Cuba, etc is weakening the Black community, are we too narrowly defining the Diaspora? And before you say it, yes I do know men who have traveled abroad, met women, married them, though they are fewer in number then the ones I know who have just slept with women and returned to the US.
A little while back I wrote, “what if everyone knew Black was beautiful?” it was triggered by some deep conversations I had with brothas and sisters in the DR about Blackness and its negativity. Will we ever truly forge a Diaspora? I wonder how do we, as African-Americans, contribute to these negative images as we transverse borders. Alright, that’s enough of me opening cans of worms, I’ll have to revisit some of this later. Thoughts?