We rolled down the windows in her beat-up car and took in as much air as we could. Every black girl I knew was saying, “Get yourself a white man,” as though they were selling out quick.
The only girl in my group of black girlfriends who had a boyfriend was dating a white boy who was white enough to have a family that hated black people. We would sit squished in a row behind them with all of our smirks perfectly even as they drove us home.
When my cousin on the all-black side birthed a baby girl whose father had become abusive, we took a long ride to a shopping mall. On the ride home we were quiet and I decided I would never date a black man as long as my feet touched this earth.
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.
The year before I graduated college, black boys started dying on TV: Trayvon Martin, then Eric Garner, then Michael Brown, then Tamir Rice.
There was something about watching a black boy murdered from the comfort of my home that made me want to go out and love a black man as hard as I could, as though somehow it could resurrect the child in him.
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 didn’t date for two years following that breakup.He joked like friends from my hometown, but there was a newness to his voice that I didn’t know.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.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.Our portrait was perfectly hung and constantly dusted for shine.