I continue to this day still find little ways that the different households I was raised up in imposed on me tiny bits of prejudice, tiny inklings of racism. “Remember, black people may smell different, they may smell bad.” “I’m not racist but just having you made me jaded, it made me scared of the world wanting to come for my son.” “Sometimes you just can’t trust black people, they tend to have sticky fingers.” “I never want to see him take a black girl home.” “I’m okay with him dating that black girl but would never want to see them get married.” These are hate-filled words I heard in my formative years, words that shaped my reality for years and words that I still contend with, as I try to turn from my conditioning, my upbringing.
I remember a very wonderful girl in middle school who admitted her crush on me but I wouldn’t give her the time of day due to a toxic mixture of fear from the words my father may have for me and the words that have already so deeply ingrained into my mind. I could not find her attractive, if only she wasn’t black, if only she wasn’t different. I still think about that girl from time to time.
When I made my way through the doors of high school I found myself many times in the mindset of “she’s cute, FOR a black girl.” I would anguish over my attraction to women of a darker complexion. That was until I found my current girlfriend.
We were introduced through a friend who declared us soul mates due to our shared birthday. Though I still had another hang up. She was black. I remember fights we got into early on about reverse racism. I remember fights about Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter. I remember so many fights that stemmed from race, insecurity, and honestly even fear. I never understood what being black was like and I never will. But one thing I began noticing was looks. We walk together in the mall, stares, we go to the beach, stares, anywhere in public, stares. Stares like we were some abnormality, some fucking alien from another planet. Then with the staring came the whispers, the hushed tones to keep us from hearing. I noticed how she brushed these things off like a windbreaker as she was used to it. Followed in the store? Been there done that. Hushed tones and darting eyes? What else is new? I hadn’t experienced that before. I was upset, I was apprehensive and defensive. This was the world I wasn’t aware of, the world I wasn’t ready for, and the world I wasn’t enjoying. A world that black people deal with every single day.