Dear Culture

Is Monogamy Still The Move: Chaneé Kendall Jackson and Cheri’ Calico Roman 

Episode 102

Read the full transcript here.

We all know Black love comes in all shapes and sizes. This week on the Dear Culture podcast, our hosts, theGrio Social Media Director Shana Pinnock and theGrio Managing Editor of Politics Gerren Keith Gaynor, go beyond the stereotypes and stigma to talk about the growing number of Black Americans practicing polyamory and ethical non-monogamy. 

Chaneé Kendall Jackson and Cheri’ “Calico” Roman are the co-founders of Young, Black and Poly, and together co-organized Black Poly Pride, a weekend conference, party and reunion which celebrates Blackness and polyamory. 

While there are a number of Americans who are choosing to explore relationship models outside of monogamy (a Newsweek study says one in nine Americans have tried it), Roman and Jackson say there’s still many misconceptions about non-monogamy.

Shirtless Black couple with backs turned to each other,
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

“Polyamory is the practice or willingness to participate in multiple committed relationships with the full consent of all involved,” said Jackson.  

Although polyamory is a love-style, Roman says choosing to be non-monogamous is not just a personal preference but can also be a political stance. 

“It asserts the notion that women do have the same relational rights as men and for me, that was really important as a foundation to loving relationships,” said Roman. “My polyamorous relationships extend beyond those that are romantic. They also recognize platonic partnerships, co-parenting relationships, and it’s just a more expansive style of relating to me that allows for the totality of my identities to be present in my loving relationships.” 

For Pinnock, polyamory is not a relationship model she intends to practice, however she says there’s much she admires about the principles of polyamory that can be applied to other relationships in her life. 

“One thing I do acknowledge in terms of monogamy, in that I think I admire so much about polyamory, is there’s this idea—and I don’t know if this is a patriarchal thing, if this is a capitalist thing—of you are supposed to be someone’s everything,” said Pinnock.

Black couple lying on bed together
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

“If you have, like, a singular partner, and that to me has been insane, I don’t need my man to be everything for me. I don’t need you to be my best friend, my therapist like any of that. So, I love the fact that there is this level of communication and deep, deep honesty within self and with your partners.” 

Gaynor also said he found value in the principles that help cultivate healthy romantic relationships regardless of structure.

“I try to lead with love in every facet of my life and really look through everything through a lens of love,” said Gaynor. “This is such an important reminder that people are not possessions—that they are humans and deserve to be loved and to love in whatever structure that looks like for them.” 

Tune into the Dear Culture podcast to hear the entire enlightening conversation, including why one guest says monogamy is actually not a choice.