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A Black Writer Must Write About Sex

By Danny Laferiere

America owes an enormous amount to Third World youth. I’m just not talking about historical debt (slavery, the rape of natural resources, the balance of payments, etc); there’s sexual debt too. Everything we’ve been promised by magazines, posters, the movies, television. America is a happy hunting ground, that’s what gets beaten into our heads every day, come and stalk the most delicious morsels (young American beauties with long legs, pink mouths, superior smiles), come and pick the wild fruit of this new Promised Land.

For you, young men of the Third World, America will be a doe quivering under the buckshot of your caresses. The call went out around the world, and we heard it, even the blue men of the desert heard it. Remember the global village? They’ve got American TV in the middle of the Sahara. Westward, ho! It was a new gold-rush. And when each new arrival showed up, he was told, “Sorry, the party’s over.”

I can still picture the sad smile of that Bedouin, old in years but still vigorous (remember, brother, those horny old goats from the Old Testament), who had sold his camel to attend the party. I met up with all of them in a tiny bar on Park Avenue. While you’re waiting for the next fiesta, the manpower counselor told us, you have to work. There’s work for everyone in America (the old carrot and stick, brother). We’ve got you coming and going.

What? Work? Our Bedouin didn’t come here to work. He crossed the desert and sailed the seas because he’d been told that in America the girls were free and easy. Oh, no, you didn’t quite understand! What didn’t we understand? All the songs and novels and films from America ever since the end of 1950s talk about sex and sex alone, and now you’re telling us we didn’t understand? Didn’t understand what? What were we supposed to have understood from that showy sexuality, that profusion of naked bodies, that total disclosure, that Hollywood heat? You should know we have some very sophisticated devices in the desert; we can tune in America. The resolution is exceptional, and there’s no interference in the Sahara. In the evening, we gather out tents lit by the cathode screen and watch you. Watching how you do what you do is a great pleasure to us. Some pretty girl is always laughing on a beach somewhere. The next minute, a big blond guy shows up and jumps her. She slips between his fingers, and he chases her into the surf. She fights, but he holds her tight and both of them sink to the bottom.

Every evening it’s the same menu, with slight variations. The sea is bluer, the girl blonder, the guy more muscled. All our dreams revolve around this life of ease. That’s what they want: the easy life. Those breasts and asses and teeth and laughter – after a while, it started affecting our libido. What could be more natural? And now, here we are in America, and you dare tell us that we didn’t understand? Understand what? I ask the question again. What were we supposed to have understood? You made us mad with desire. Today, we stand before you, a long chain of men (in our country, adventure is the realm of men), penises erect, appetites insatiable, ready for the battle of the sexes and the races.

We’ll fight to the finish, America.


CHRONIC ISSUE 2Haiti-born Danny Laferiere is a writer and journalist based in Montreal. This is an excerpt from his book, Why Must a Black Writer Write About Sex? published by Coach House Press.


In this issue, artists and writer from around the world take on the philanthropic complex to unravel the philosophies of dependency and power at play in the civil society of African states. To read the article in full get a copy in our online shop or visit your nearest stockists.


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