Black Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies

Black Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies

Black Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies

Black Sexualities: Probing Powers, Passions, Practices, and Policies


Why does society have difficulty discussing sexualities? Where does fear of Black sexualities emerge and how is it manifested? How can varied experiences of Black females and males who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), or straight help inform dialogue and academic inquiry?

From questioning forces that have constrained sexual choices to examining how Blacks have forged healthy sexual identities in an oppressive environment, Black Sexualities acknowledges the diversity of the Black experience and the shared legacy of racism. Contributors seek resolution to Blacks' understanding of their lives as sexual beings through stories of empowerment, healing, self-awareness, victories, and other historic and contemporary life-course panoramas and provide practical information to foster more culturally relative research, tolerance, and acceptance.


With funding from a Ford Foundation grant, a group of Black and Latina/o scholars converged at the University of Connecticut in April 2006 to discuss myriad projects that would address the intersections of race and sexualities. A few of us knew some of us, but no one of us knew all of us. As a result, friendships were formed, bridges were built, and coalitions coalesced. The prospects and possibilities were palpable. From this initial meeting, it was decided that a conference on race and sexualities needed to take place and more scholarship had to be produced.

That meeting led to another with an even greater diversity of academics and activists at Northwestern University in May 2007. During that meeting, serious planning began for a powerful conference—Race/Sex/Power: New Movements in Black and Latina/o Sexualities—ultimately held at the University of Illinois at Chicago on April 11 and 12, 2008. With major funding from the Ford Foundation and Arcus Foundation, the conference was organized by more than twenty academics, activists, and artists from nine institutions. Over 750 people attended that conference, from 200 institutions and organizations and over seventy-five cities within the United States and ten countries around the world. During the April 2006 meeting, the participants also commissioned a series of papers to address the intersections of race and sexualities. Those papers led to a few dozen academic journal articles as well as these two edited volumes. In addition to the authors, over sixty scholars provided blind peer reviews of the scholarship contained in these works. The authors are indebted to those scholars for their insightful comments and suggestions.

The names of the brilliant Black scholars who participated in the initial April 2006 meeting and served as an advisory committee for this volume are as follows: Jafari Sinclaire Allen (Yale University, Connecticut); Sandra L. Barnes (Vanderbilt University, Tennessee); Juan Battle (City University of New York Graduate Center); Dionne Bensonsmith (Grinnell College, Iowa); Cathy J. Cohen (University of Chicago); E. Christi Cunningham (Howard University School of Law, Washington, D.C.); Roderick A. Ferguson (University of Minnesota); Rosamond S. King (Brooklyn College, New York); Mignon R. Moore (University of California); Leith Mullings (City University of New York Graduate Center); Tony Whitehead (University of Maryland); and Gina Wingood (Emory University, Georgia).

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