As a WOC, how do I find a community that's reflective of ME? | I'm Poly and So Can You
I'm a Black woman. In a culture of #polyamorysowhite, how do I find community that's reflective of ME?*
*In honor of Black History/#Wakanda month, I asked polyamory professional Kevin Patterson to be a guest columnist for today's question. Enjoy!
A couple of decades ago, I was a student at the best HBCU in all the land, Howard University! Part of my experience there was membership in the Gentlemen of Drew Social Club, a fraternal organization that leads impressionable freshmen to great works of public service and personal responsibility. Among other things, that we were known for our heavy, royal blue hooded sweatshirts with quotes and personal statements on the back.
One of the hoodie quotes that I found to be most influential, was that of my edition brother, Javier. His sweatshirt read the paraphrased quote, “Either we will find a way or build one.” It’s often attributed to Hannibal, in his attempt to cross the Alps with elephants…
...fortunately, you’re (probably) not trying to cross the Alps with elephants. You’re trying to find a POC-centered polyamory community...which is slightly less daunting.
Polyamory communities often appear hidden in plain sight. The easiest place to find them in general is through the power of the internet. The best places to look are Meetup.com and Facebook. Meetup is exactly as it sounds. People use the website to organize groups of like-minded people into gatherings in physical spaces. An easy search for “Polyamory” localized to the closest metropolitan area will likely turn up a group or three dedicated to the exploration of ethical non-monogamy. These groups usually focus around discussion groups, potlucks, happy hours, and other low-stress environments.
Facebook, on the other hand, is....Facebook. Probably the most well-known social media juggernauts, Facebook is home to an endless amount of groups/forums/message boards devoted to one aspect or another of polyamory.
Whether Meetup or Facebook, your search should turn up several options for POC-centered spaces. Though a little deeper digging may be necessary. Many of the largest Facebook polyamory groups, such as Polyamory Discussion and Poly-Geekery, have offshoot groups reserved for POC membership and topics. Posting in one of those groups and asking for such resources may be the quickest way to go.
Black and Poly has a large Facebook presence of almost ten-thousand members spread out all over the country. Beyond that, they organize meetups in several large cities. Joining the forum and attending the meetups is an easy way to ingrain yourself into a community.
But what happens if that doesn’t work out? What happens if you can’t find a way? You gotta build one! I guarantee that you aren’t alone in seeking a POC-centered polyamorous space in the place where you reside. So you may have to mine the resources I’ve already mentioned. You may have to take what you’ve got and make it what you want.
Maybe Facebook or Meetup doesn’t have a (POC Polyamory in Your Town) group, but nothing is preventing you from starting one. If there is a large polyamory group or forum, there are undoubtedly POC within it who desire an intentional space. You just need to start one and advertise within that group. If there is a large POC space, like Black & Poly, there must be people within it that live near you and want to hang. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. It could just be a trip to a nearby coffee shop or a happy hour or a potluck. Just announce your intentions and invite a crowd.
Polyamory is getting large enough that addressing our needs, like POC-focused intentional spaces, is becoming more and more necessary. At the same time, it’s still small enough that creating any new resources can potentially address several of those needs at once. Or you can narrow the scope of your creation to a very specific focus. If you’ve got to engage with or create many spaces at once, it’s still ok…
Kevin Patterson is an active member of the Philadelphia polyamory community. He's been practicing ethical nonmonogamy since August of 2002 after opening up a relationship that eventually became his marriage.
In April of 2015, Kevin was inspired to start Poly Role Models, an interview series for people describing their experiences with polyamory. Poly Role Models is part of a drive and a desire to change the way our lives and communities are viewed. It is currently the most diverse and inclusive platform for polyamory available.
To continue the discussion of polyamorous representation, Kevin has extended the blog's work into nationwide speaking engagements about how race and polyamory intersect. This has led to the writing of the book, Love's Not Color Blind: Race and Representation in Polyamorous and Other Alternative Communities.