Why Does The Porn Industry Get Away With Racist Portrayals Of Black People?

Racism in Pornography: Why I care and you should too

By Carolyn M. West, Ph.D., University of Washington

Published on Fight the New Drug
March 21, 2020

As a Psychology Professor, who has been investigating domestic violence and sexual assault for more than two decades, I never aspired to be a pornography researcher and I never expected to produce something like my documentary, “Let Me Tell Ya’ll ‘Bout Black Chicks: Images of Black Women in Pornography.” Yet, I became inspired to do this work after reviewing the visual images on more than 4,000 front and back covers of pornographic DVDs featuring Black women performers that had been produced in the past 20 years.

Here’s what I have learned along the way and why I think you should care about racism in porn.

Why does porn get a pass?

As critical consumers of media, we have begun to critique racism in just about every media format—movies, Twitter and Facebook feeds, and even children’s programming.

Despite the financial benefits of its release on the Disney’s streaming site, Bob Iger, the company’s chief executive wisely concluded that the 1946 film Song of the South “wouldn’t necessarily sit right or feel right to a number of people today.” In this case, it was probably a good corporate move to apply cancel culture to a movie that featured musical and animated sequences of happy formerly enslaved Black people on a post-Civil War Southern plantation.

Yet, in our same culture, the porn industry appears to get a free pass to promote horrifically racist and abusive content in the name of sexual entertainment to anyone with internet access, even children.

At the time of writing, PornHub has an average of 115 million daily visits, which is equivalent of the combined populations of Canada, Australia, Poland, and the Netherlands all visiting this popular website in one day. Despite PornHub’s terms and conditions that do not allow “racial slurs or hate speech,” a search for the “n” word turned up thousands of user-loaded videos with the word used in the title, description, or in comments. This should violate the rules by anyone’s measure. Even on professional porn sets the “n” word is frequently hurled at Black men performing with White women.

The racism was so unbearable for one Black performer named Maurice McKnight, who performed under the name Moe the Monster, that he filed a lawsuit against the director for allowing another performer to call him the n-word, against his wishes, during filming. Talk about a hostile work environment.

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