The practice of separating the races. It was common practice in the American South until the late 1960's to have separate bathrooms, water fountains, movie theaters, schools, etc. for whites and "coloreds", i.e. non-whites.

Although laws were passed (as well as Supreme Court decisions made) to outlaw segregation starting in the 50's, the federal government did little to enforce integration in the South until the issue was forced by civil rights activists.

Recently, a major Southern US university near my hometown celebrated the 40th anniversary of integration. Yes, I shit you not--it's only been 40 years since the first black student signed up for freshman English at this place. To put this in perspective, it means that the parents of the current black students could not have gone to that school. Hell, I don't think they could've appeared on campus at all unless they were slinging plates or sweeping floors.

By all accounts, the integration proceeded relatively peacefully, as the students and faculty overwhelmingly wanted it to happen. Nowadays, black students play a part in every kind of student activity, taking classes from theatre to physics, holding high positions in student government, and graduating with honors. I don't mean to claim that it's perfect--people still worry about self-segregation and racist beliefs and the effects of affirmative action. But I think it's undeniable that these students have opportunities that weren't there 40 years ago.

I was thinking about this some time ago when a group of black students came in to buy beer from the convenience store where I work part-time. You can probably tell from what I wrote before that I have a rather optimistic attitude about integration. I think it's great that these kids are making it in the university, and that while there are certainly still problems, we'll get over them in time, and society is generally growing more and more integrated (though not necessarily colorblind).

I kept on thinking about this while perusing a men's magazine that I'd stashed under the counter. As I flipped through page after page of delicious pink flesh, I noticed something:

There weren't any black girls in the mag.

I put it down and went to skim through other mags that I've noded here, though I already suspected what I'd find. Sure enough: Tight. Barely Legal. Hawk. Live Young Girls. Swank. Cheri. Zero black girls.

I reflected on the porn I'd seen over the years. Most of it didn't contain black people. I remembered a few pictorials in which a very dark black man was servicing a very light-skinned white woman. I found it rather beautiful, sort of like an X-rated version of that Robert Mapplethorpe photo, but it was presented as a "fetish" pictorial. As for solo pictorials of black people, they were rare, and the women were generally very light-skinned.

It's not quite the same for other races. Porno mags frequently contain East Asian girls, for example, as well as Latinas. I've never seen a South Asian girl in a porno mag--ever--even though I've seen plenty of attractive South Asian women.

I took another look at the mags we had for sale. I picked up Sista and Black Tail. Sure enough: Zero white girls. We had a few magazines devoted to East Asians, though I must admit that they tended to present themselves as "fetish" mags. They portrayed the girls as lobotomized whores: "Amelican have big penis! Me like fukky sukky!" (I find this bizarre, by the way. The usual stereotype portrays East Asians as geeky, asexual geniuses. Here it's the complete opposite. I don't know why.)

And there were still no South Asian girls to be found anywhere. I don't think mags dedicated to South Asians are even available, at least from our distributors.

This isn't limited to print porn, either: At the time of this writing, there are over 100 girls on alsscan.com. 1 is black and 1 is Asian. I obviously haven't conducted a comprehensive study of porn sites--who could?--but I think alsscan.com is still representative.

I started to wonder about this, and over the past few months, I've kept track of who buys what mag. The results have been pretty simple. White people almost always buy mags with white girls. Black people almost always buy mags with black girls. Asians (whether South Asian or East Asian) don't seem to buy much porn, but when they do, they buy white-girl mags.

I'm not sure why this is. Probably there are a lot of explanations. Maybe we're all racists and hate seeing people of other races. That would have to include black folks, of course, since black mags aren't integrated either. I'm sure this is part of the explanation--after all, an interracial pictorial got Larry Flynt shot, and you know that's got to make people nervous. But I don't think that's the only explanation--plenty of people I know, myself included, find people of many different races to be attractive.

Maybe we just tend to be more attracted to people who look more like us. I vaguely remember hearing something about this in a psychology class somewhere, but I can't be more specific than that. I know that I like to see girls who remind me of someone I knew in school, and most people in my school were white, so the white-girl mags are more likely to appeal to me on those grounds.

Maybe there are just cultural differences. I have to say that the black porno mags are pretty clearly not aimed at me. I'm not always familiar with the language they use. When they talk about music, they're not talking about music I listen to (I'm not into rap or hip-hop--no, not even Eminem). When they talk about clothes, it's not clothes I tend to wear. Presumably the same would be more or less true if a black person read a white-girl mag.

I don't really know why this is; I only know it's true. I hate to admit it, but as I said, I flipped through Sista and Black Tail. The girls were pretty, and the contrast between pink bits and black skin was intriguing. But it just didn't really do as much for me as the white-girl mags did. And the same sort of thing appears to be true for lots and lots of other people of almost every race.

I would only suggest one thing: until black-on-white-on-Asian-on-Eskimo-on-{whatever} all-way fuckfest is mainstream, and not a fetish, we've got a bit of a way to go.

In the meantime, there's a dissertation in there somewhere.


Boy, I hate squabbling over terms. Let me say this:

  • I am using "black" instead of "African-American" because I believe that many of the people I'm discussing (both the students and the models) are not American.
  • The racial categories I'm using (black, white, East Asian, South Asian) might seem pretty crude. So they are, but it doesn't seem to be useful to break, say, "East Asian" down into more categories when there are only one or two East Asians in porno mags.
  • I realize that I don't really know the actual racial makeup of these women. By "black woman," I really mean "woman who appears black," and I know that these aren't the same thing. I would just say that in a solely visual medium, appearance is what matters. I would hesitate to call a mag "integrated" if it only contained black and Asian women who looked as white as I do.

Seg`re*ga"tion (?), n. [L. segregatio: cf. F. s'egr'egation.]

1.

The act of segregating, or the state of being segregated; separation from others; a parting.

2. Geol.

Separation from a mass, and gathering about centers or into cavities at hand through cohesive attraction or the crystallizing process.

 

© Webster 1913.

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