If you don’t see me as black then you will never truly know me. If you don’t see me as black, you aren’t seeing the color of my skin as beautiful, and you aren’t recognizing the larger community that I’m part of — being black in America isn’t just skin deep. Our amazing culture comes with obstacles, often dangerous ones, and facing them has made me who I am. I don’t want to be anybody else. My experiences are and will continue to be different than those of the white people I date.
When you deny the color of my skin, you aren’t doing me any favors.
In fact, ignoring my blackness makes it seem like you think it’s a flaw that one shouldn’t speak of. On behalf of black folks everywhere, we all know the color of our skin — and it’s super weird if you pretend you don’t. The reality is not everyone has to think about race, but anyone trying to get with me will have to give up that privilege because we’re in this together now.
You don’t need to be on the frontlines of fighting racism, but you do need to speak up when you see or hear something that isn’t right. and you can’t do that if you’re feigning ignorance. When you say you don’t see me as black, I wonder how will you intervene in the face of bigotry — after all, you can’t even acknowledge it exists. How will you be able to identify my receiving bad service and being unwanted because of the color of my skin? How will you be able to respond after I tell you that I was followed home by the police because I was black if you don’t see color? You can’t listen or support any racial trauma that I experience without addressing that I am, in fact, different than you.
You may have been conditioned to believe that it’s not nice to point out someone’s race. You certainly shouldn’t waltz up to people and marvel at their blackness, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it either. If you want to date a black person who you’ve connected with on other levels, you need to make the attempt to connect with them on this one too. Perhaps you were also taught the popular white lie that everyone is equal: That has never been the case in America and it certainly isn’t today. Wake up!
If you can’t see my skin color, then you are living a lie and are out of touch with my reality. But, as long as you are open to your ignorance on the topic, we can move forward. While I don’t expect you to already know everything about race, mine, in particular, I do expect you to be able to admit you don’t fully understand my experience and subsequently do your homework. We may have some not-so-fun conversations along the way where you feel defensive and I feel unheard, but I expect you to push through them instead of pretending our differences don’t exist. If you can shake off what you think you know, we’ll do just fine.