STORY: Bo Harley | PHOTOS: inkedKenny


The white boy knelt, naked and shackled with his hands raised overhead, cuffed to a metal suspension rod. A single ray of light fell on him as cigar smoke swirled in the surrounding air.

A figure appeared in a full black leather police uniform. He had a gun holstered at his side and his gloved hands gripped a huge cigar. He was a black leather cop with ebony muscles bulging from his uniform. “Lick those boots, boy,” he growled.

“Fuck you, nigger,” the boy spat. “I ain’t doing that shit.”

The officer slapped him across the face, hard. The lead-lined gloves were dense and unforgiving. The boy tasted copper.

“I told you, cracker. Address Me by My proper name.” The leather cop grabbed the boy’s neck. “Say it,” he commanded. 

“Make me, coon.” The leather cop landed a kick squarely in the boy’s nuts. “Fuck!” The pain surged, overwhelming every nerve, immediately weakening him. He crumpled, held up only by the chains around his wrists.

“Now.” The cop’s dark eyes glared at the boy and his nostrils flared, releasing dual jets of smoke into his victim’s face.

“NiggerSir,” the boy whispered.

“Louder, white boy!” His lips curled into a grin.

“NIGGERSIR!” he bellowed. “Your name is NIGGERSIR!


THIS RACEPLAY SCENE HAS BEEN ENACTED IN MY playspace, and other dank darkrooms, everywhere from San Francisco to Berlin. When I, an African-American leatherman, describe it to other leathermen—both black and white—I get responses like, “How can you let a white man call you the n-word?”, “What, are you working out your black revenge towards white men?” and “Why do you hate yourself?”

Raceplay seems to be one of the final taboos of the BDSM world. According to Susanne Schotanus, author of the article “Racism or Race Play: A Conceptual Investigation of the Race Play Debates,” it is defined as “a sexual practice where either the imagined or real racial background of one or more of the participants is used to create [a] power imbalance in a BDSM scene, through the use of slurs, narratives, and objects laden with racial history.”


“For me, raceplay acknowledges the power inequity that exists between people of different races and cultures.”


With racial tensions at an all-time high in the West,  and stories of racial hatred and violence in the news  virtually every day, why would one want to engage in such play?

I think it has a lot to do with power. For me, raceplay  acknowledges the power inequity that exists between people of different races and cultures. By acknowledging this imbalance, harnessing it, and in some cases,  subverting it, I’ve found that players can realize the latent power of fantasies that are otherwise restrained in the real world.

America’s troubled racial history provides rich sources for this type of play. Men of Color (MOC) are often displayed as victims in contemporary media, with little social, economic, or political power. Raceplay provides an environment in which they can express sexual agency outside of their roles as Doms or subs. Even in a scene where a MOC is serving a white Master, I would argue that the consensual nature of their relationship gives the racialized man power. 

I also feel that the transgressive nature of raceplay gives it its charge. Just as sexual activities like breath control, water sports, and scat are taboo because they’re viewed as repugnant, from my experience, it seems that raceplay provides an additional jolt because of its forbidden nature. 


“My opinion: political correctness has no place in the bedroom, playroom, or darkroom.”


Saying words like “nigger,” “honkey,” “kike,” “spic,” “cracker,” or “coon” doesn’t come easy for most of us.  And hearing those words triggers hurtful memories of their toxic power, whether yelled at us from a passing truck or spat by a racist prick. We’ve also been taught that these words are evil and that their very expression contaminates us. But when it’s in the context of a
consensual raceplay scene, I find that the narrative helps to remove the toxicity of these words, but not their transgressive and titillating nature.


The white boy knelt before the black muscular cop’s boot. Slowly, hesitantly, his tongue tentatively touched the polished black leather. 

“That’s right, boy. Lick your NiggerSir’s boots.” 

“Yes, Sir!” His voice was more submissive. 

“Now you know the power of this nigger’s boots and their ability to put your honkey ass in its place, to be used in front of your white buddies.” The boy was licking the boots furiously. He stopped and whispered, “Yes, Sir. Gladly.” 

“You are this NiggerSir’s property. Years of superior breeding and oppression have brought Me to this place to take ownership of My white boy.” 

“Yes, Sir. That is my destiny.” 


So, is raceplay racist? I don’t believe it is. While it is designed and used as a tool to move a BDSM scene forward, the intent of consensual raceplay should never be hatred or malice. 

My opinion: political correctness has no place in the bedroom, playroom, or darkroom. When its purpose is sexual pleasure, and players consent, raceplay is not an act of hatred or violence, but a unique expression of erotic power. 

Through raceplay, I have seized the power of the history of hatred and subverted it into an expression of my empowerment. That’s why I like raceplay.