The Banality of Whiteness

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RACIAL EROTICS
Gay Men of Color, Sexual Racism, and the Politics of Desire
by C. Winter Han
Univ. of Washington. 248 pages, $30.

 

 

IF SOMEONE EXPRESSES a greater sexual interest in one racial group over another, are they being racist? Are our erotic preferences and attractions innate, or are they created by the culture in which we live? These are some of the questions explored in this thought-provoking sociological study.

            In its most basic form, sexual racism is rejecting sex with another person based on race or race-based fetishizing and objectification. According to C. Winter Han, associate professor of sociology at Middlebury College and author of Racial Erotics, the problem is larger than just who desires whom as a sex partner. It is “rather the structural conditions promoted by gay communities and the gay media that lead to white men coming to have more erotic worth than men of color.” By judging men of color as less desirable, he argues, “the true danger of sexual racism isn’t that gay white men don’t find men of color sexually desirable, but the hierarchy that it creates affects many other areas of life for gay men of color.”

            In Racial Erotics, Han contends that our erotic preferences are not “natural” but are instead formed by cultural factors that make some traits desirable or not. Reginald Harris, a writer and poet based in Brooklyn, is the author of Ten Tongues (2003) and Autogeography (2013).

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