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Unlearning Unlovability

I hid my fears and insecurities by desexualizing myself. Now I'm on the path of uncovering ways to unlearn ugliness as an identity.

Connecting with WOC and Sexuality

Ever since puberty, I found my body to be a site of shame, something I desperately wanted to escape.

A transplant to predominantly white Catholic schools on Long Island, I was immediately deemed ugly. I had an older sister, but we were close enough in age that we were navigating puberty around the same time. As second-generation daughters of immigrant parents, we were on our own as far as navigating the personal and social meanings of our bodies.

A lot of hurdles were awkward for me. I grew flustered and self-conscious when relatives felt no qualms about making unsolicited comments about my body.

“You’ve got boobs now,” an aunt told me bluntly when I came over with my mother once. How could she mention them? I was mortified.

I could avoid it for a while by wearing starchy undershirts under my school blouses, but soon, I couldn’t hide my growing breasts anymore. I crossed my arms over my chest in an attempt to hide my nipples as they showed through my shirt, but I might as well have be

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No, you CAN'T touch my hair.

I grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis Missouri in a mostly white neighborhood. One of the first things I noticed was that my hair was different.

My fellow students would run their hands through their hair, flip it from side to side or pull it back into ponytails. Their hair moved... my hair didn’t move. If I pulled it back in a ponytail it stayed in a ponytail even after I removed the hair clip. I wore my hair in braids – no flipping or fluffing for me. Sometimes I wore Afro puffs, but my usual style was two braids that came together in the back.

In grade school folks used to tease me about my hair just because it was different. I was the only black girl in class and my peers considered being different a bad thing – they teased me about my dark skin and full lips and made fun of my Afro puffs. I grew to resent the things that made me different and hated my hair. Girls would ask if they could touch my Afro puffs and it felt as if I were some sort of exotic animal at the zoo they want

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Meet the New Editor of Sexuality in Color!

My name is Pamela and I’m thrilled to join the Scarleteen family as Editor of the Sexuality in Color section!

A little bit about me – I am a Black woman living in the Midwest with two fantabulous sorta-beagles. I’ve blogged at my personal blog, AngryBlackBitch.com, for over five years. I’m also a contributor to Feministing and Shakespeare’s Sister and a staff writer for RH Reality Check.

Sexuality in Color will cover everything from coming out as a LGBTQ person of color, film and pop culture, reproductive health care and everything in between. The goal of the Sexuality in Color section is to discuss, debate and educate each other.

I look forward to getting to know Scarleteen readers and encourage y’all to send questions and comments to me at pamela@scarleteen.com. If you’d like to write a piece for the section, please contact me directly – we’re always looking for guest writers!

Thanks and let’s jump right in…

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POC: Tell Us What You Want!

This year, we'd like to invest some extra energy in being sure we're doing our level best to serve our readers of color well.

By all means, a lot what we do here is applicable to everyone and can serve everyone, and there are a lot of parts of sexuality and relationships that are fairly universal. At the same time, we know -- either firsthand or by proxy -- there are some issues or aspects of sexuality, sexual life and relationships and sexual health which are different for people or communities of color, or where there are additional barriers or complexities.

For example, being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender often poses additional challenges when you're of color. Access to sexual and/or reproductive health services is often more limited. How the media treats the sexualities of people of color is sometimes radically different than the sexualities of white people are treated. Body image issues in white communities can be very different than in communities of color. Compound

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Assumptions about race; Or, "So, where are you from?"

This morning I had class at 7:45 am, which is brutal since A) I live way off campus which means that I have to get up more than 15 minutes before I need to be there, and B) I left campus last night around 10 pm. Also, I had not had any coffee (devastating, in my case), so as a result, during the break I ran over to the nearest cafe to grab some. While I was in line, a (white) person that I had never before seen in my life, walked up to me and asked me if I was Chinese. My immediate reaction was "uhmm, what?", while I tried to process this stranger in front of me, asking this randomly intrusive question without having had any coffee in my system. The kid held up a Chinese language workbook. "I need help with my homework, and I was wondering if you speak Chinese." he explained. I (politely, mind you, though it took a lot of restraint) told him no, I'm not Chinese and don't speak it.

I tried to process the situation over my cup of coffee, during the last remnants of my break. Why did thi

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The Sticky Situation of Interracial Attraction

Are you in an interracial relationship? Do you have the hots for someone of another race? Attraction is all well and good until someone gets targeted for their race. Here’s the scoop: attraction is different than fetishism. People can have fetishes about all kinds of objects and acts, which can be part of a normal, healthy sexuality. Fetishes about people—particularly about specific races—are more complex than having a fetish about feet or breastfeeding, for example. Let me give my distinction between attraction to those of a certain race and fetish. Attraction is finding a person beautiful or sexy, part of which may be their race. A fetish is finding an object (or a huge, diverse category that someone perceives as an object, like say, race for example) sexy. The key here is looking at the whole person, not how their racialized characteristics fit into your preconceived expectations of them, and seeing that person as a person, not as an object.

Another distinction is that fetishes are

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MEMO: Race is not just a POC thing, we all got it!

Okay, quick quiz: What do these things have in common? Getting accepted into college, meeting people for the first time, walking down the street in your neighborhood, going to the airport. Answer: In all these situations, your race affects how you are perceived and treated by others, as well as your own outlook on the situation. This doesn't only go for people of color (POC), but everyone. Okay, now I'm going to blow your mind: everyone has race, even white people! It sounds silly, but people forget this all the time. Race is a big part of who we all are as individuals, and logically, it also factors into our sexual relationships in a major way.

The reason that race is such a big issue comes from our long history of racism: slavery, genocide (see Jessica Yee’s post), rape, persecution, the list goes on. That kind of history doesn't just go away. And it's reflected in the more subtle (but still destructive) racism that POC regularly experience in the United States today. Becau

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Bloghopping: October/November 2008

Often, Scarleteen content is quoted within other blogs and articles, and my favorite thing about that is seeing how what we've done here can further other conversations and ideas; how others take some of what we've done in a different direction or to a further point.

Here are a few recent blogs and articles who have quoted or used some of our content to help address an array of topics. To check out the whole of the pieces, just give the links a click.

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Coming Soon: Sexuality in Color & The Scarleteen Voting Guide

Newsflash: I'm white. Who cares, right?

Well, I do. Because one thing that means with the work I do is that I hear it, see it, compile it, write it all through the lens of a white person. I can be as mindful, sensitive and careful as I want, but that still doesn't change that.

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