Let me first say that when it comes to men, I am of the Big Pun school of thought: “I don’t discriminate, I regulate every shade of that ass.” I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t attracted to someone of the opposite sex because of their race. But by the time I got to an age where I actually could regulate ass, all of them happened to be black.
It wasn’t a conscious thing. When I started to be interested in the opposite sex, the boys who ran in my social group all just happened to look like me. From my earliest childhood crushes (a family friend’s 16-year-old son when I was 5), to my first love as a teenager (another family friend I grew up with), all the guys I’d ever fancied or dated were all black. This wasn’t a problem for me, but I never really thought about getting involved with anyone outside my race. Until, that is, I went to college.
Perhaps it was the scarcity of eligible black men (I was one of about 60 other black kids out of 1600 students) or maybe it was my youthful curiosity. Maybe it was something in the water. Maybe I was just a fetishizing asshole, but I arrived on campus determined to get with a white guy. Let’s keep in mind that I’d never even kissed any non-black male in my life.
I had a crush on a guy living in my friend’s hall -- a very cute curly haired dirty blonde guy from Massachusetts who had full lips and a kind of goofy, sexy confidence. Let’s call him Liam. I’d been spending a lot of time with him, coming around his hall half to chill with my friends, and half to kick it with him. He had a cool personality, and enjoyed my company, but I never thought he was actually feeling me until we made out at a party one night (oddly enough, almost immediately after I made out with another guy -- who was black. Old habits.)
And it didn’t stop there. As the weeks progressed and the semester finished, I found that I’d mostly just been bagging white guys. And not some ‘ol questionable-looking cats either. No ma’am. These were some seriously fine dudes, that only a few months ago I never thought would have even looked my way. And they were looking indeed. A cute, scruffy stoner type blonde guy from my French class. A tall, strawberry blonde baseball player, a wealthy Masshole who panned to eschew a career in selling weapons to be a teacher.
I was racking up a hookup history I thought was reserved for the tall, blonde, narrow hipped, slight bottomed types. But there I was, with my wide black girl nose, big lips, high round bottom and King magazine thickness, getting with all these young white men in spite of myself. It was oddly empowering. These are fellows who only a few months prior, I would not have even considered an option -- mostly because I didn’t think they would be in to someone who looked like me.
Things with Liam weren’t going well. My crush on him turned into real feelings, and no matter how I tried, I just couldn’t get him to reciprocate them in the way I wanted. He wound up royally screwing me over in spite of the feeling he claimed to have for me. At first I just thought it was because he was confused and young and well… a boy, but when I actually started to pay attention to some of the things he said to me, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was something else bothering him.
Little comments like “Oh, I’m just a goofy white guy, “ and “My mom always catches me checking out the ‘exotic’ girls at the country club.” He always seemed to point out his whiteness to me, as if to remind me that we were different. It seems my fallout with Liam started to mirror the rest of my romantic life.
Random hookups became more infrequent. My dating prospects began to thin as I progressed in my college career. In social situations like parties, I began to notice I would often be passed over by white men in favor of other white women who I thought were less interesting and attractive than me. It was like being invisible.
Any attention I did get was tarnished by the gratuitous use of (what they might have thought was) hood slang, or mention of my rear end. Of course, the amount of male attention I got didn’t dictate my self-esteem, but that didn’t make my situation any less lonely, confusing or frustrating. I found myself one night getting ready to go to a formal cocktail party, blackening my waterline with a kohl pencil, and stopping before my right eye was fully lined. I put down the pencil, and wondered aloud “Why am I doing this? To look cute for whom? These (white) guys ain’t checkin’ for me. “ My roommates were silent.
There I was, either an exotic fruit to be tasted once just to say you tried it, or to be completely looked over because it doesn’t look like any fruit you’ve eaten. I started to get upset. I wasn’t used to this sort of thing. I just wanted to feel like a woman when I dealt with the opposite sex. Not an experience. So, before I graduated, I decided I wasn’t going to have anything to do with white men.
And I didn't. I returned home to New York City, and for a year and a half, my boycott was in full effect. I passed over them as they’d passed over me. I greeted any come-ons with blank, blinking stares. I gleefully (and loudly) proclaimed my stance when I had too much to drink at bars. I felt oddly powerful, like I was really sticking it to someone.
But after a while, the whole thing just seemed a little silly. I wasn’t at school anymore with folks who weren’t used to being around people like me. I wasn’t a token, or a conquest. I was just another person in a mass of people. I was back to being a woman, as opposed to a BLACK woman, and all those feelings of being exoticized, the feeling of otherness, completely dissolved. My blackness was normal again, and it didn’t completely define who I was. It was instead a happy addition to the person I already am. That’s the feeling I was missing at school, and it felt fantastic to have it back.
Now, I’m happy to report that I’m back to playing in the snow, or rather, regulating asses of all kinds. Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what shade the man is -- as long as he sees me as a human being.