Our family is a classic case of women and the black men who left them versus the white men who stayed.
I remember being 6 and slapping my white uncle in the face to figure out why his face turned bloodred.
I didn’t date for two years following that breakup.I cleaned myself up: I got a well-paying job; moved to the city; got my own apartment and painted it yellow and got plants to place on the windowsill. I joined Tinder on a whim to break the routine of eat, work, eat, sleep.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 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.He rode skateboards and carried around napkins in his front pocket, a habit he’d learned from his grandpa.
He joked like friends from my hometown, but there was a newness to his voice that I didn’t know.He was gentle in a very straightforward way, pulling out chairs for me at restaurants and picking me up after work to take me to exhibition openings, where he would look at me instead of looking at the art.He supported my work and called me Butterfly; our relationship was nauseatingly blissful. I posted photos of black love on every social media account and considered myself as part of a larger revolution.He told me that he had gotten out of a 10-year relationship with the girl he thought he would marry and I told him that I had spent two years alone finding myself.The match wasn’t ideal, but we took to each other like people end up doing when left in a room alone.Half of my mother’s four sisters are married to white men.