We rolled down the windows in her beat-up car and took in as much air as we could. Every black girl I knew was saying, “Get yourself a white man,” as though they were selling out quick.The only girl in my group of black girlfriends who had a boyfriend was dating a white boy who was white enough to have a family that hated black people. We would sit squished in a row behind them with all of our smirks perfectly even as they drove us home.But whenever he would call, I would let my phone ring until the screen went black. ” “Soon,“ I would say, as though there was more urgency in believing it to be true.
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My cousins can be split into two groups: Ones who grew up with weaves and skin lighteners and ones who needed sunscreen and haircuts.
Our family is a classic case of women and the black men who left them versus the white men who stayed.
We were open with each other; he had been warned to stay away from black girls, and I was advised to not date men of color.
We stood on the head of our warnings every day as we got to know each other. I knew I was a far away from the Latina girls he was used to with silk hair, milk-toffee skin, and sharp tongues: I had forgotten how vulnerable it felt to be black in the apartment building lobby of a potential love. Before every date I would always buy myself a new outfit or piece of clothing to impress him, as though being constantly new would distract from any shortcomings.
I found myself on a first date with a guy who was born and raised in Yonkers, with a family from El Salvador.
He rode skateboards and carried around napkins in his front pocket, a habit he’d learned from his grandpa.
I would stretch my hair every inch that I could, to make it appear longer. There were days when we fought and said things to each other like “That must have been from how you were raised.” We got assaulted on the street by men who would yell “Black and white don’t mix” and smash their shoulders into ours.
It was only when he started saying things like, “They’re all wondering why you’re with me,” while gesturing to a group of black men, that I realized he was doubting himself, too. We got stared down in every bar that we entered, and approached with unsolicited offers for company, as though our relationship could only be sexual, as though we needed more than each other to be satisfied.
Half of my mother’s four sisters are married to white men.
The match wasn’t ideal, but we took to each other like people end up doing when left in a room alone.