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My Boyfriend Never Dated Within His Race Until He Met Me

A difference in perspective can be a bridge to understanding.

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Even though my boyfriend and I have only been dating for a little under the two-year mark, we've sort of developed the tradition of going to North Carolina for my mother's birthday in July. Four months after we met, her birthday came around and Gary was introduced to my family for the first time. Next year came around and we did the same thing.

This year, if Miss Rona doesn't stick around for too much longer, we'll be hitting the repeat button. I guess you can say we have a tradition flowing here. Two years ago when we went to Chapel Hill, we stayed in a hotel around the corner from my house and we were given our own studio apartment. A cute little air-conditioned Marriott-style bungalow, if you will.

One night, the vibe was great. We had just come in from a night of shooting the breeze and kicking it with my cousins, nephews, and my mother's friends from her old job. They traveled all the way down to North Carolina from New York for my mother's 61st birthday - still can't believe it. My boyfriend, my cousin and I were chilling in our Queen-sized bed and somehow the conversation took a turn and we began to talk about sex and relationships. One thing led to another and I mentioned, with complete conviction, that I will only date Black men moving forward.

At this stage in the game, I know what I want in a partner is a Black man to raise my Black children and they can be Black mixed with Black.

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Not to say that I'm racist or prejudiced against dating any other race, but that's just what I'm attracted to and where I foresee my romantic future going. I've dated Hispanic men, fooled around with a white guy during my study abroad experience in England, but I really like me some Black men.

When I said this, my boyfriend's face contorted within itself with touches of confusion and worry. "Why?" he asked me in disappointment. "I want a man who can relate to my lived experience as a Black woman," I responded. You see, my boyfriend is from Costa Rica, but he's Afro-Latino and identifies as Black. I'm Black. We're a beautiful, bold Black couple. I'm not saying that I would love him any less if he were another race, but I can say honestly that our conversations and interactions may be a bit different if he were. Sorry, not sorry. If you think back to the movie The Hate U Give starring Amandla Stenberg, her boyfriend played by KJ Apa - who is a white man - is a very woke, privileged Caucasian teenager who is well aware of his position in Amandla's character's life.

However, when he said, "I don't see race," that's where he fucked up...just a bit. "If you don't see race, then you don't see me," Amandla's character Starr replied. Little did I know, that movie would be a parallel to the conversation I would have with my boyfriend.

"I don't see race when I date," said Gary. "Well, if you don't see race, then you don't see me as a Black woman, or yourself as a Black man, for that matter," I replied. At this point in the conversation, I had forgotten that my cousin was even there on the other side of the bed. My boyfriend has had a few girlfriends, prior to myself obviously, and none of them have been Black. Considering that he lived in San Bernardino and went to a primarily white school, it makes all the sense in the world that he dated outside of his race. His last girlfriend was Filipino and every other girl prior to her was not Black either, so this is the first time he had been thrusted into a conversation like this with a romantic partner, I'm sure.

Well into my academic career at Spelman College, an all-female HBCU, and developing a close friendship with my father, a strong Black man and Morehouse College graduate, I've developed an appreciation for a strong Black man. When I have children, I want to be able to explain to my daughter the lived experience from one Black woman to another and the importance of wearing our natural hair. I want my husband to talk to my son about police brutality and demonstrate the importance of a prominent Black male figure in his life.

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As a Black man, my boyfriend does not agree with me necessarily, but that's OK.

The perspective of my relationship between my boyfriend and I when it comes to races as it pertains to romance, sex and lifestyle are kind of different because I have been vocal about my preference for Black men/men of color and he said he doesn't see color when he thinks of romance and love. While we have both experienced systemic racism, racism in the workplace and much more, it does intrigue me as to how we can have similar walks of life, but two very different views. And that's OK, too.

For anyone who may be reading this piece, don't worry - the conversation ended in peace. We agreed to disagree, and went our merry way to bed. We spent about an hour going back and forth trying to make one another understand our perspective, but the truth is, we can't. We never will, and that's fine. Even as two people in the same relationship, our views are very different when it comes to dating outside of our race. Let this be a lesson, a guide if you will, that a difference in opinions between two partners can either be a rut or a chance to create a safe space in a conversation - this is for you to decide.

When it comes to dating outside of your race, or even inside of your race, aside from the natural buzzwords, it's important to have the conversation about colorism, post traumatic slave syndrome, and old family traditions if you planned on getting married. Let's get comfortable with being uncomfortable and start the conversation.

xoNecole is always looking for new voices and empowering stories to add to our platform. If you have an interesting story or personal essay that you'd love to share, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us at submissions@xonecole.com.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

Lawd, lawd. I'm assuming that I'm not being too presumptuous when I start this all out by saying, I'm pretty sure that more than just a few of us can relate to this title and topic. I know that personally, there are several men from my sexual past who would've been out of my space a lot sooner had the sex not been…shoot, so damn good. And it's because of that very thing that you'll never ever convince me that sex can't mess with your head. The oxytocin highs (that happen when we kiss, cuddle and orgasm) alone can easily explain why a lot of us will make a sexual connection with someone and stay involved with them for weeks, months, years even, even if the mental and emotional dynamic is subpar, at best.

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