As I walked unto the beach glowing beneath the afternoon sun, I stopped to take a good look around at the people there sunning themselves, strolling in the surf or playing in the sand. As it was a clothing-optional beach it was easy to observe them in all their naked splendor, but that is not what caught my attention. It was something else I noticed – or that I didn’t see as the case may be. My exposed ass cheeks were the only ones of color to be found there. Where were all the black nudists?
So few black nudists
In most of my public nudity experiences, I have experienced a similar lack of representation of minority races. The first time I participated in the World Naked Bike Ride – Ciclonudista in Madrid, Spain – I was the only black out of roughly 400 participants. Many of the cameras of tourists and pedestrians we passed were trained on me. I definitely stood out and gave them a focus for their photos. Fortunately, in one of the following years, our numbers doubled thanks to a black woman who joined me.
People of color are scandalously underrepresented in the world of nudists and naturists. And there are especially scant black nudists. Why should this be considering that we have all seen those National Geographic photos of naked Africans going about their daily lives with no shame or concern for their nudity? And of course we have seen similar illustrations and pictures of some Native American groups. Yet nudity – public or otherwise – is rebuked by much of black, Asian and Arabic culture.
I would not and cannot begin to speak for every culture or society about this topic any more than I could on others. But as a black American I have observed some of the motivations for this lack of acceptance of naturism within my culture.
Established naturist places are seen as remote and alien worlds to many . Beaches, forests and mountains are not our natural domain and are seen as unattractive to most blacks. For example, the US National Park system has struggled with little success to attract more people of color to their sites. Yet, we tend to conglomerate in cities and towns. Most blacks are simply unaccustomed to being in nature. Perhaps our collective shame of being forced to work in fields or of being associated with the jungle prevents us from exploring our inherent connections to nature. Very few black that I know when given a choice between a luxury hotel or a tent in a majestic landscape would choose the latter. Naturism doesn’t speak to our desires and aspirations and this includes its nudist aspect.
All black men are supposed to be very well-endowed. And all non-blacks are said to be eager to seize any opportunity to verify this fact. This becomes very annoying to most blacks, who are continually stared at and ogled even while clothed. Unless the man is an exhibitionist, walking, sitting or lying around nude would seem to only invite more of this behavior. Women too face the same curiosity regarding their breasts and asses. And to my knowledge, there are no exclusively black nudist sites in North America. So, one must brave the torrent of looks and gasps or avoid the places altogether.
Will is a gay, black friend of mine who spent a couple of years in an apartment overlooking a gorgeous nudist beach on the Costa del Sol of Spain. However, he rarely visited this beach preferring to go to the adjacent textile beaches unless the nudist one was deserted. Will was ashamed of the size of his penis and felt that people’s disappointment showed in their eyes when they saw him nude. Mind you, he by no means could be described as small, just not big. And that was not good enough for a black man, much less a gay one.
Welcome or not
Naturist places do not have signs that say “whites only” but in many ways, such sentiments are implied. Black are either made to feel unwelcome or treated as curious oddities. I have had many such experiences. This latter leads to an overly enthusiastic welcome with big showy grins and gestures whose genuineness can be questionable. I do fully understand this impulse as I have likewise made a beeline to introduce myself to the occasional black I have encountered on nudist beaches. Perhaps, I come across as being overly friendly and welcoming too like some of the whites who have treated me the same way. But I wanted to make sure the recipient felt welcomed and embraced. Genuinely.
Clothes as status
Clothing denote status in today’s society and this is even more true among the black populace. And so being without clothes implies having no status or being below everyone else. Naked signifies poor, helpless and hopeless and who would choose that? After all, even our slave ancestors had rags to wear. Consequently, looking at black media is like watching a continual fashion show. Bling matters. Additionally, clothes are used to sexualize the body. I wholeheartedly agree that they do because clothes are very often much more overtly sexual than nudism. Sex and seduction are about suggestion and the imagination. Nudism strips these away. But the general population has yet to comprehend this.
On my first solo trip to Guadalmar beach in Malaga, Spain as I lay roasting under the stinging autumn southern Spanish sun, a black man walked by. Let’s call him “Joe”. Once Joe had settled in on his towel, I approached and found out he was a resident originally from Nigeria. He had been coming to this beach for some time but he came because he wanted to see nude women. Using the stereotypes of black men for his benefit, he figured he stood a better chance of getting the ladies if he too was naked despite this being a clothing-optional beach. He was not a nudist but rather an inappropriate predator taking advantage of the opportunity. And this is what people assume naturists to be like. They have not been educated to know the difference. People in general — and blacks specifically — do not understand that nudists enjoy the feeling of being free of restrictive clothes. It is all about oneself.
As a nudist, I am constantly having to explain that nudism is not about sex. Yet, the hypersensitive religious morals of many blacks cannot separate the two. To their minds, naked means you are flirting, fucking or freaking. And each are seen as amoral and sinful. The Joes of world make overcoming these attitudes all the more difficult.
The boot of law
Blacks, with good reason, tend to be much more skittish about breaking laws. When just driving or sitting in your own house can arouse suspicion and result in being shot by the police, who would risk getting naked in public in a place where its legality is uncertain? This view is understandable and justified. And the existence of legal nudist sites doesn’t often filter into the community. In the black mind, being caught naked would just add more ammunition to the arsenal aimed against us.
You are not likely to accidentally stumble on a nudist site and this is why they are located where they are. You must seek them out or know someone who has that knowledge. Blacks do not often know such people.