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Half of my mother’s four sisters are married to white men.
My cousins can be split into two groups: Ones who grew up with weaves and skin lighteners and ones who needed sunscreen and haircuts.
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.
I had hushed conversations in the corners of cafés about how important it was to keep feeding the black community with positive affirmations and how it began with loving black men.
I wore Black Lives Matter buttons, attended marches, sported hoodies, vowed to date only black men, and prepared myself to raise a son who might be faced with a death in the same vein as Trayvon, a name I had spoken so often that it felt like that of a brother.
She was looking to me for advice on raising a fatherless child, considering my firsthand experience. It was like that for a while—dismissing every suitor who resembled my father.
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 didn’t feel like love at first, more like companionship at our all-time lows.
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.
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 always felt halfway to a crime that we could never commit.