Racial fetish is also different than other types of kinks because it’s not just about a self-chosen lifestyle (S&M, for example), a self-determined action (thanks for making Golden Shower well-known, R. Kelly), or sexualizing a body part (feet fetishism seems pretty prominent). Yellow/Jungle/Salsa/Curry Fevers are about exotification of groups of people based on a part of their identity that they have no control over.
One just needs to look at the history of women of color (especially in America) to see how this racializing of sex plays out. Colonizing land usually also meant colonizing the women inhabiting that land. They were described as uncivilized, hypersexualized, sexually inferior, and savage. Now contrast those descriptions to images of the pure white women that were upheld. The rape of women of color was then seen as no big deal, from the time Europeans settled in America to the time of slavery, and one could even argue to the present day. Rape was, is a part of women’s subordination. Of course, I am not claiming that anyone who fetishizes women of color is a rapist. What I am trying to do is call attention to the value (and the kind of value) placed on certain bodies. Women of color are exoticized and sexualized, but they aren’t valued. Don’t believe me? Consider the eugenics movement and sterilization abuse that happened in the early twentieth century.
This desire for transformation through the Other is not unique to fashion; it is connected to a much longer history of what Black feminist scholar bell hooks (always in lower case) calls “imperialist nostalgia”: the longing of whites to inhabit, if only for a time, the world of the Other. Bodily transcendence through sartorial and cosmetic play is enacted by the consumption of otherness – a “courageous consumption,” in hooks’ words – because it is about “conquering the fear [of racial difference] and acknowledging power. It is by eating the Other,” hooks explains, “that one asserts power and privilege.