I am Black woman who is tired of the Mandingo stereotype. If you look at the movies, magazines, The Experience Project and other media, you will come across the Mandingo stereotype at one point or another. However, there seems to be no place where the Mandingo stereotype is more pronounced than in pornography and interracial swinger culture. To understand the Mandingo stereotype, I guess it’s best to start with history.
The Mandingo stereotype comes out of slavery and the reconstruction. Throughout slavery, Black men were treated as sexual objects to be bred and used to increase the wealth and prosperity of the slave master. It wasn’t uncommon for a Black man to be sent out to other plantations to impregnate Black women of childbearing age. I remember reading in the slave narratives about how sometimes Black men and Black women were forced to have intercourse in front of the white overseer if the master felt they weren’t having children fast enough. In the book The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison tells a story of a young Black couple who is forced to have intercourse while strange white men watch. This act of voyeurism was not only a way to violate Black people, but it denied Black people the right to define their sexuality and own their bodies. When the Reconstruction occurred, the Black Brute Caricature became a stereotype that was used to control Black men and keep Black people subjugated. The Black brute was known for his uncontrollable sexual appetite, large genitals, his brute strength, unintelligent nature and his thirst for young white women. We all know the history of lynching and how white women have been put on a pedestal of purity, while Black women have been portrayed and treated as inherently dirty, inferior and impure. It wasn’t uncommon for a Black man to be lynched for looking at a white woman, while Black women were regularly gang-raped and abused by white men throughout slavery, the reconstruction and Jim Crow.
The Black Brute is probably the best known stereotype of Black men and it still exists today. There have been incidents where some white women have used the Black Brute stereotype to their advantage by blaming unnamed Black men for crimes such as rape or murder, two infamous examples would be Willette Hawkins, a white woman who, after having a consensual affair with a Black man named Willie McGee, accused him of rape when her husband discovered the affair and Susan Smith who blamed an imaginary Black man for kidnapping her children. Later, it was discovered that Susan Smith had murdered her own children to prolong an affair she was having with a man. The history of sexual stereotypes against Black men has always been used to control Black people and white people.
What does this have to do with today? We can see the Mandingo and black brute stereotypes manifested in popular culture everyday. From the controversial vogue issue to the manipulation of rape statistic to make Black men look like brutes, this caricature continues to be a part of American culture.
I was browsing around on the Experience Project and I clicked into a section about Black men and lo and behold, there are tons and tons of stories about Black men sleeping with married white women while their husband’s watch. The majority of the stories that I saw were written by white men. Now, this is not the first time that I’ve heard about the “Black stud cuckold,” fantasy. I read Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice and in the book he talks about this phenomenon himself.
“There are white men who will pay you to **** their wives. They approach you and say, ‘How would you like to **** a white woman? ‘What is this? you ask. ‘On the up-and-up,’ he assures you. ‘It’s all right she’s my wife. She needs black rod, is all. She has to have it. It’s like a medicine or drug to her.” – Eldridge Cleaver
I was shocked the first time I read about white men who actually enjoyed watching Black men sleep with their white wives, but was even more shocked when I learned all about the Mandingo parties where white wives, Black men and white husbands all come together and basically have swinger parties where Black men sleep with the white women while their husbands watch. The white women wear “BBC anklets“…yes they’re now making jewelry marketed to white women who love “Big Black C*cks.” The language that is used in these stories is very demeaning the Black men are objectified by being referred to as “bucks,” “Mandingos,” “studs,” and most demeaning of all “breeders.” I am most offended by Black men being referred to as breeders because it’s an insult to our forefathers who were forced to go from plantation to plantation and father children, who later became property of their masters and could be sold at the master’s discretion. There is also a gang rape theme in some of the stories where multiple Black men are portrayed as having relations with one white female.
The first thing that came to mind when I learned about this was the white overseers in slavery who watched Black men & Black women having intercourse. The only difference is the Black woman has been substituted with a white woman. I imagine the reason some white men are so fixated on this is because of the stereotype that Black men not only have larger genitals, but also are brutish enough to “dominate,” the white woman. I think this arouses some white men because of the perception that the white woman is being “sullied,” by sleeping with the forbidden Black Buck.
I also think that watching their white wives be “sullied,” by the supposed large dicked, Black man neutralizes the fear, shame, envy and inferiority that these white men who engage in these acts feel toward Black men. One interesting thing to note is that many of the white men who engaged in these Mandingo parties, watch these images in porn and have these fantasies at night do not associate or know any Blacks during the day. In the article, one of the white husbands named Jeff admitted that he was racist.
Jeff didn’t always like black guys. He was prejudiced—he admits it. As one of the few white kids at his school in the southeast of Washington, D.C., he fought a lot with black kids and was occasionally beaten up. When he later ran a string of gas stations, he was robbed: A black guy held a gun to his head and pulled the trigger—but the gun didn’t go off.
Not only was he prejudiced before, but he admitted in the article that if they see the Black men from the parties during the day, they are to pretend they don’t know each other. To me, it seems like the fear of Black men that has been ingrained into the minds of some of these white men has projected itself into their sexual desires. IF a white man feels sexually inferior to Black men because of the stereotypes and subconsciously fears that a Black man could take his wife or his position of power away, then it’s easier to relieve that fear by resigning to playing a subordinate role as a cuckold husband. Kind of like, if I can’t beat em join em, yet the white man remains in a position of power because at the end of the day, he knows it’s an “act,” fantasy that relieves tension. If you read some of the comments by these white men on the experience project stories, they clearly fear Black male sexuality, it’s evident and it seems that by engaging in these acts it’s neutralizes the fear and in a warped way is a way for them to exercise control over the situation, even though they’re pretending to be subordinate and submissive to the Black man. Just my thought.
Now, from a historical perspective, this would seem very odd because we all know the stories of Emmett Till and the Scottsboro men. We know how Black men were lynched for looking at a white woman, so why would so many white men be interested in this genre of interracial pornography between Black men & white women? Well, the reason is because it plays into racist white stereotypes, simple as that. These images and stories are only validating the racist notions of Black men. Racism in porn and erotic culture is rampant. Black sexuality is objectified and used as a tool to further white supremacy.
In Part Two:
I will be talking about the image (or absence of Black Women) in erotic literature/ industry and how the Mandingo stereotype affects both Black men and Black women
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART TWO…
note: I am aware of sexism, but in this article I’m focusing on racism in porn, so I won’t go in depth about sexism in porn