I am dating a black guy
During a bathroom break or a trip to the bar, I’ll check my phone, and almost always there is a news alert telling me Donald Trump is attempting to curtail, or has just succeeded in curtailing, the rights of marginalized people in America.
It’s an odd thing to then go back to my date and continue the performance of “getting to know you.” I fantasize about walking up to him and saying, “Gotta go!
It’s a pretty good way to pass the time from Brooklyn to midtown. I spent my childhood surrounded by black and brown kids, but when I got to high school, suddenly everyone around me was white.
And on those rare occasions a white boy kissed me in the copy-machine room at our high school, or when a white boy told me over the phone he had a crush on me, the acknowledgement made me feel chosen. The white boys I grew up with were cool: They rode their skateboards on private property.
While I tried to explain to this man why what he was saying was offensive, my boyfriend stood there in silence.
Later, I tried to convey how hurt I was that he didn’t say anything, but he didn’t seem to understand how bewildered I was.
Despite knowing I can feel intimacy with white guys, right now what divides us feels like a chasm.
Every white man I’ve dated has, sometimes consciously and sometimes not, asked me to explain to them some aspect of blackness.
“Can I say the N-word if I’m singing along to a song? ” (I don’t know dude, I ask myself the same question every goddamn day.) I know that I shouldn’t feel compelled to always speak for my race, but I can’t expect a white boyfriend to stop asking some of those questions if we’re to come to a mutual understanding.
It felt different this time, like the flirtatious version of the “black nod” at work — an acknowledgement between two black employees who might not even know one another, but who have a shared experience.
What I’m craving right now from a partner — more than feeling beautiful, more than anything — is a “black nod” version of a relationship.