Is the Porn Industry Racist?

Why the adult film industry might be one of America's most discriminatory.

Aurora Snow (Ethan Miller/Getty Images for CineVegas); Lexington Steele (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Aurora Snow (Ethan Miller/Getty Images for CineVegas); Lexington Steele (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(The Root) — Porn star Aurora Snow surprised many with her candid confession to the Daily Beast regarding one of the last remaining taboos in the adult entertainment industry. According to Snow, while few sex acts are considered off the table today, sex acts with certain individuals can be.

Snow spoke specifically of the fact that a number of white female performers are discouraged from participating in scenes with black men. Often those doing the discouraging are men in power within the industry — specifically, white men who are managers or agents.

In an age in which multiracial families are among the fastest growing in the nation, it is hard to fathom that there is a national industry, $10 billion strong, in which interracial couplings are considered career suicide. It seems that the historical taboo of black men sleeping with white women is one sexual hang-up that even the porn industry is unwilling to get over.

And yet the reverse of that taboo — white men sleeping with black women, which also comes with some historical precedent — is quite popular. Interviews with various performers within the industry confirm that while racism within the porn industry is very real, the day-to-day reality of how such discrimination is meted out can get complicated.

Lexington Steele is considered the most successful black male pornographic performer in history. He is the only performer — of any race — to have won the AVN (Adult Video News) Performer of the Year Award three times, one of the industry’s highest honors.

When asked about whether or not interracial scenes are still considered taboo for white female performers, Steele told The Root: “It’s definitely something that exists, and I think it’s something that’s built within the fabric of the industry, because if you look at the individuals that are in positions of authority over some of the white females, the ones governing them are the ones implementing this practice of no interracial.” Saying that many of the white women in the industry he knows don’t have a problem with such scenes, Steele, who has worked with Snow in the past, explained, “It’s their managers, boyfriend or husband or family members.”

Steele explained that while women who won’t do interracial are becoming the minority within the industry, there are plenty who have family members who are much less concerned that their daughter or sister or spouse is participating in adult entertainment but extremely concerned at the thought of her being intimate with a black man. While he says that he usually finds it “laughable” when a girl says, “My family knows I do porno, but they’d go crazy if I was with a black guy,” the rationale behind it is not laughable.