This was originally published in 2020.
The skills associated with unlearning toxic monogamy culture (TMC) are cultivated by the assumed white poly person (WPP) in order to deconstruct implicit understandings of themselves in relation to and within a culture that is reinforced through power structures. In unlearning a ‘common sense’ understanding of ourselves, our relationships, and our society we have skills which can be turned to unlearning other ‘common sense’ understandings. One such application of these skills is in anti-racism work. This is the work of deconstructing systemic structures of white supremacy, in order to eliminate racial oppression. For a white people specifically it is the hard and necessary work to make apparent our privilege, understand its unintentional impacts, and leverage the implicit power that we have as a white person to address and deconstruct supremacy wherever possible. This doc outlines a panel of skills that the WPP may have already cultivated in the unlearning and deconstruction of TMC, which can be utilised in anti-racism work. These skills fall into three categories - skills relating to internal work, skills related to communication with others, and skills related to culture and new-norm building.
Skills on Internal Work: These are skills relating to the internal work of the white poly person. Skills relating to emotional management, and personal development may be used to face your privilege and unlearn supremacy within.
Skills for Communicating with Others: Communication skills are a valuable addition to a WPP CNM experience, which usually means communicating effectively with those in their immediate partnerships and wider polycule, and my include communicating with lawyers, career associates, and family members
New Normal: These skills are surrounding the ways that the WPP may seeks to actively deconstruct the TMC constructs through personal action
Further notes on Racism in Non-Monogamous Spaces.
A substantial footnote needs to be made to all of the above, which concerns the inherent and implicit racism within our own polyamorous/CNM communities. The polyamorous community and our cultural artifacts are perenially whitewashed, and USA-centric. We are not immune to racism. And there are some key ways in which this presents within our subculture: Othering: This is behavior that points to or emphasizes the characteristics that set a person apart from the monoculture. I am a white person and have never had an experience in a CNM community meet up of feeling that my ethnicity was pointed out. I have certainly never felt it was a source of discomfort, a potential source of contention between partners (eg a veto exists on interactions with me purely because of my race), or fetishization. But this othering does happen, frequently, for members of a CNM community that are black or POC. Erasure: Does your CNM/poly space, polycule, or party have POC or black members? Probably not. If there are member who are non-white, does your space or party tend to meet their needs, do you tokenise them, do you actively include them in decision making?
Resources for Racism in Non-Monogamous Spaces:
Five Things White People Can Do to Make Their Poly Communities More Welcoming for People of Color
CLAIRE LOUISE TRAVERS
(C) CLAIRE LOUISE TRAVERS. She is a writer, academic researcher and polyamorous community organiser.