Sam, Black Men, and Fetishization
We learn on page 126 that Sam used to be a white, blonde, blue-eyed woman, but now he is a black man. When he was the woman version of himself, he was attracted to people who looked a lot like his previous self, and the women he was attracted to were attracted to black men. To simplify matters, Sam becomes the Sam we know now. Though it seems okay in Triton society that white women are superbly attracted to black men, today it would be a fetishization. There is a power dynamic we should take a gander at, to understand the implications of the racial and gender structure Delany is taking on and potentially attempting to dismantle.
Historically, and contemporarily, black men have been seen as sex objects. The stereotype that black men are well-endowed has carried weight throughout history. White women fetishize black men because of the sexuality surrounding black men’s existence. Black men became more interested in white women after the 1960s: The end of de jure racial segregation brought whites and blacks together in schools and at work. Anti-miscegenation laws ceased, partially thanks to the Lovings who fought for their right to be married to each other in 1967. The sexual revolution of the late 1960s into the 1970s allowed white women and black men to desire one another, because sex was seen as something separate from reproduction for the first time ever. The worry about ruining purity and bloodlines wasn’t as big of a concern in the height of the sexuality movement.
If Sam had only changed genders in order to appeal to straight women, I would accept the idea more. But because Sam is specifically trying to appeal to the women who want a “black man.”
The following slam poem describes the fetishization of black women, but I think the sentiment is the same.
Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Feminist Thought. New York: Routledge, 2000. Print.
Delany, Samuel R. Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 1996. Print.