Somehow their politicization has begun to seem cartoonish, filled with performance and self-congratulation. But it wasn’t only on election night that translating experience felt so fraught.Communication is necessary for any healthy relationship, and in an interracial relationship it’s paramount.In those moments, I’ve wished to be sitting in front of someone who could relate.
Whenever I’m standing on a subway platform, I play this game: I hover near a person I think is cute and try to slowly make my way over to him so we get in the same car. Like most of the girls in my class, I wanted attention from the boys.
When we do, I look his way every so often to see if he’s staring back, to see if we’ve got what my best friend and I call “the affinity,” a mutual acknowledgement that we one another. But while they chased after blondes and brunettes, I was ignored.
It’s a pretty good way to pass the time from Brooklyn to midtown. I spent my childhood surrounded by black and brown kids, but when I got to high school, suddenly everyone around me was white.
And on those rare occasions a white boy kissed me in the copy-machine room at our high school, or when a white boy told me over the phone he had a crush on me, the acknowledgement made me feel chosen. The white boys I grew up with were cool: They rode their skateboards on private property.
On election night, I thought about all those moments, and I felt overwhelmed at the possibility of taking that on over the next four years.
Since Trump was elected, I’ve felt paradoxically alienated by white people finding or doubling down on their commitment to change.There are, in my relationships with white men, so many moments like that.No matter how close I held the mirror up to their faces, sometimes their good and liberal wells of understanding and compassion were simply inaccessible.They smoked weed in their parents’ houses with abandon. If they wanted me, I thought, it was because I seemed free like them.White men have preoccupied me my whole life, from the schoolyard to the subway, but these days I’m seeing them differently.I lost count of the times my boyfriend in my late 20s would tell me to “just leave” parties or social events when I complained of being the only person of color in his all-white friend group.