Some time ago I began to look for information on pornography. I was not surprised to find that there was nothing at all specifically about black women and pornography to be found at the public libraries. It is my everyday experience to be made invisible in a white-dominated society. The only place that I knew to go for information about my sisters was the porn stores, where they were not invisible, but rather prominently featured.
Going into the porn stores was not something that I looked forward to doing. As my co-worker and I went into the store, she quickly reminded me not to react to what I would see because the clerks might ask us to leave. In fact, a big sign at the entrance stated that they had the right to ask 'certain customers' to leave.
When we entered, a sense of panic immediately came over me. The place was like a cement bunker. It was one big, dark, dirty room. A musty odor permeated the space. The stale smell of sweat and semen hung in the air. Dusty shelves stretched from corner to corner, ceiling to floor. As I looked around, all I could see was wall-to-wall women.
On one side of the room I saw nothing but bondage magazines. The covers displayed pictures of women tied up, chained up, hung upside down. Some had ball gags stuffed in their mouths. In some, the women's eyes and mouths were taped shut. Some were handcuffed, some shackled to chairs, others locked in cages. All of them had their legs spread—or more often roped— wide open.
Looking in another direction, I saw my sisters—beautiful Black women— nameless and often faceless, plastered on the covers of magazines with titles such as Chocolate Pleasure, Black on Black, Black Sugar, and Bound Black Beauties. Many were restrained and all of them were made to appear as if they were 'asking for it'—screaming and moaning with desire.
My heart fell to my feet. All these women exposing their most intimate, private, sacred parts. All of these Black women for sale. As I continued to look, I thought about slavery. I thought about the stories my Grandmother told me about her mother's life under slavery. Even though I never experienced the physical pain of being auctioned off, seeing these Black women shackled, spread-eagle, or hog-tied made it seem as though this part of history—the history of my family's enslavement—was repeating itself all over again.