Earlier this week, Willow Smith spoke openly about her choice to be in polyamorous relationships. While the revelation came as a shock to some, there is actually a growing community of Black women who have chosen polyamory for a variety of different reasons. We’ll be profiling some of these women in our Black and Polyamorous series.
This week, we spoke to Nneka Brown-Massey, who first gave polyamory a try when she was 27 years old and says that her interest in history is what first led to giving polyamory a try.
“I’m a self-sustained history major outside of college. I’ve just always been interested in watching history channel documentaries, anything just learning about cultures and humanity. I remember taking a class at Fayetteville State when I was in the military,” said the entrepreneur, who is the founder and CEO of Innovative Supplies Worldwide, Inc. “I was taking some history classes and just learning about the African diaspora and how that [polyamory] was practiced heavily there and it just made a lot of sense economically and legacy-wise. Everything about building.”
Upon leaving the military, Nneka met a man on Instagram with similar interests and who saw polyamory as an “opportunity for building.” Ultimately, this connection would evolve into her first polyamorous relationship.
“He was pretty much on the same wavelength as I, in terms of that being something that would be [helpful] financially and for legacy building. And so he’s like, ‘I have a roommate who’s also interested in it.’ And so I was like, okay, so they moved to Georgia with me,'” Nneka recalled.
Unfortunately, the experience went south when Nneka learned that her newfound partner had been dishonest.
“She tells me, ‘I was not his roommate, I was his live-in girlfriend for the last six years.’ And I was like, okay, well, first of all, he told me one thing, so. That whole introduction to this equation just left a sour taste in her mouth that released energy amongst all three of us that we couldn’t participate in as a group. So we just had to part ways shortly after,” she said.
Despite the negative experience, Nneka says that she is still very much open to the idea of being in a poly relationship. Naturally, when the average person thinks of a polyamorous relationship, they assume that sex is the motivation. And while some people who are poly do engage in group sex, that is not the case for all.
“There was none of that so she was gonna have her own bedroom, I was gonna have my own bedroom and he was going to have his own bedroom,” said Nneka. “You know, it was, it wasn’t going to feel anything like what a lot of people’s minds tend to think where the man’s curled up in bed with two women and they’re all sleeping together. No, for our particular situation, everyone’s getting their own room and, and it wasn’t ego-driven, for him and I anyway. We knew it was about building something strong — a foundation and just building community. Also for me, I know, I’m not gonna show up a hundred percent to be a man’s bed partner every single day. So I had to wake up to that reality that sometimes you’re not gonna want to show up. But they still are. And do you tell them, ‘Okay, go out and cheat into the neighborhood’ or do you tell them, ‘Go to the next bedroom over and there is a community partner on this journey of life with us that is going to do that for you because I’m not showing up today?'”