Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967) was a story about a Joanna Drayton, a White woman (played by Katharine Houghton), who falls in love with Dr. John Wade Prentice Jr., a Black man (played by Sydney Poitier), and brings him home to her so-called liberal San Franciscan parents Matt and Christina (played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn). Of course, they were caught by surprise, not because their barely legal daughter wanted to marry a man almost twice her age (and who only went out with her before a damn week!), but because she brought home a Black guy (*gasp*). Of course, all sorts of shenanigans ensue before these White liberals give her their blessing. Yeah…this film doesn’t work for me, mostly because it was a way to assuage White liberals and their own prejudices. It’s also used as a way to affirm the inane credo that Black and White romantic relationships and their biracial babies can end racism. Bullshit.
Yet, one scene that stuck out to me was when Joanna gushed to her mom in private about how great John was as man. More specifically, she mentioned how John had not wanted to consummate their relationship before marriage. Now, it is unintentionally hilarious when she said that his justification was that he feared hurting her in the process (“once you go Black, you’re gonna need a wheelchair”). But at this point, the (White) audience is supposed to marvel at this super respectful negro, who in addition to being a “well-spoken” Oxford educated doctor with no criminal history, does not impose his super-penis upon this dainty White woman. BRAVO SYDNEY!
Did I mention how much this movie doesn’t work for me?
Anyway, one of the very first films depicting an interracial couple as its central subject matter had to deal with the audiences obsession with Black dick. Folks had to grapple with the sexual tension that fills most relationships…by dismissing it entirely. Yeah, John and Joanna didn’t even lock lips once. For the most part, Joanna was the free spirited enamored woman whereas John was measured, reserved, and pretty much perfect. Character-wise, White people could find no fault in him to nitpick, especially since he didn’t fuck her.
I don’t know how many times some non-Black person, usually a White woman, came up to me and asked me, “is it true what they say about Black guys?” (yes, we love cocoa butter on Black women). Given my limited proximity towards White people until college, I was always taken aback by their audacity to ask me this question. It always came across as rude at the very least. However, given their own presumably non-existent interactions with Black folks prior to meeting me, it probably makes some sense that they would be curious if what “they” said about our penises were true. Are they giant snakes that’ll put you in a coma and give you ten babies at a time? Can they balance objects like the satyrs of antiquity? Are gold magnums simply too small for us?
If you thought I was going to answer any of those questions,
then you lost your goddamn mind no. So, let’s just explore part of why America is pretty much obsessed with the Black penis.
Hide Your Wife!
Black male sexuality, as well as other men of color’s sexuality, have been a focal point for White America since slavery. Socially, white mobs lynched Black men during Jim Crow for just about everything, especially on unproven allegations of raping White women. Politically, Governor Paul LePage blamed so-called “drug dealers” named D-Money (not to be confused for myself) for selling heroin in Maine as well as impregnating White women. Artistically, there was the original The Birth of a Nation (1915) which helped nurture the idea that Black men were raping White women in droves. I’ve also written before about how a giant gorilla who kidnapped a White woman embodied the racist imagery of a Black rapist for 1930’s USA to fear. It is really easy to play up the Black sexual predator narrative for cheap rage.
Never mind that the Black community has suffered from shameful levels of sexual assault, which requires our undue attention. We need to come up with strategies and tactics that will firmly address the needs of our community without demonizing Black male sexuality like Paul LePage would. Quite simply, a White supremacist framework is insufficient and reckless to employ against our people. If anything, it creates fear-mongering amongst Whites as well as civil liberties catastrophes that also harm Black women and survivors across all identity groups (i.e,. working class, children, LGBT, etc.).
Conversely, we get the hypersexual Black male, an image which we’ve reappropriated to convey hypermasculinity. To some, we’ve made our hypersexuality attractive to women across all races. In fact, the common (and overplayed) joke within movies and television is that White women secretly obsess over Black dick even when married to White men. Granted the reaction to Orlando Bloom would affirm the overall interest in certain men’s private parts. However, for many Caucasoid women, our appendages are the forbidden fruit that Gawd has seemingly barred from all who desperately desire to taste it.
We’ve been, in part, responsible to reestablishing Black male sexuality as something superior to White sexuality. Whether it was blaxploitation cinema of the 70’s or hip-hop since the 80’s, we made our dicks desirable again. Hell, even Big Bank Hank said in “Rapper’s Delight” how Superman couldn’t please Lois Lane with his “little worm.” It was practically a Black supremacist argument that pretty much got accepted by the majority of his listeners.
“Of course he has a big penis. Just not a big brain.” – Some Racist White guy.
However, rappers are now our de facto ambassadors to suburban White kids. They boast about their size and how many women they’ve slept with. Of course, they also utilize this imagery in their music videos, some of which focus on their sculpted shirtless physiques while surrounded by half-naked women of all races. Th pimp/player/mack has become overused character trope in all these videos. Their efforts have practically reaffirmed the widespread belief that Blackness = super-hypersexuality.
The problem is, we’ve basically become porn.
Porno! Porno! Porno!
Speaking of which, the obsession of our inherently “dangerous” sexuality is translated into interracial pornography. We see instances in which some White woman is assailed by one or more buff (sometimes bald) Black dudes with giant dicks. And yeah, they’re usually criminals who done spoke exaggerated Ebonics, never call a woman anything other than a “bitch” or a “ho,” and are always breaking the law. Common scenarios include Black dudes breaking into some unsuspecting White woman’s house, slavery pornography (you’re a low human being if you enjoy that), and sleeping with a White woman who’s fed up with her White man’s sexual inadequacy (usually characterized by actors having smaller penises).This last one in particular is known as “cuck” porn, which is part of a larger social and political phenomena that I will explain in a separate post soon.
Now, I’m not one to care about porn either from the “sex-positive” or “anti-porn” camps within feminism. I believe in free speech and I don’t support the government censoring porn companies. I also never understood why folks gained any pleasure from it, especially when it got really violent. Nevertheless, I would like for porn companies to be more responsible in eliminating imagery that plays on regressive tropes, including the racism and sexism. But that’ll happen the same day cigarette companies admit the truth about their products being carcinogenic. So probably never. As such, the audiences themselves need to realize how porno conveys certain images that could potentially impact their psyches on a subconscious level. Porn companies are not going to change (hint: $$$). Audiences can.
So what the hell does all this mean? Are Black balls going to disappear anything soon? Hopefully not physically. However, in the metaphoric sense, White America’s obsession with Blackness and sexuality is not going away anytime soon. Due to the persistence of specific racialized imagery as well as whatever insecurities, they can’t conceptualize Black male identity without undue focus on our private parts – particularly how White women like Joanna Drayton may interact with them.
Just to annoy these folks…