It’s that time of the year again, and I love it. The smell of football is pungently in the air, and the season is making the leaves of the trees change in an array of beautiful colors. Families come together for the holiday season, and I love setting up my home décor to reflect my favorite holidays. This season is also time for homecoming. Homecoming is very popular in the south, and it’s an even that many people try not to miss. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend my high school’s homecoming, but I was able to catch up while talking to my friends. While talking to them, it took me down memory lane, and for some reason, I thought about my experiences while in high school. High school for me was a time period filled with a multitude of experiences, emotions, challenges, and growth. Additionally, seeing that my high school wasn’t your average school, the totality of my experiences weren’t average. Matriculating via The Baylor School taught me a lot in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom, particularly in class, racism, colorism, and yes, interracial dating. Interracial dating among Black people isn’t popular in the south, but it’s more acceptable with Black men. Black women are expected to hold true to some form of loyalty and accept what they’re given from Black men. This “acceptance” includes the fate that you’re given due to your aesthetics. Meaning, if you’re a darker-skinned Black woman, your fate is that you’re more than likely going to be overlooked by Black men, and you have to accept that instead of dating outside of your ethnicity because that’s damnation for hell. *rolls eyes* It’s a horrible truth, but it’s still the truth. Although just about every Black male student (especially if he was an athlete) dated a White girl on campus, the Black girls were forbidden to do so. I was introduced to this notion while on our school’s annual welcome trip for the boarding students, and I didn’t know it then, but it would be a notion that would follow me into my adulthood.
As a new boarding student, I was
forced invited to attend a welcoming trip that included white water rafting down the Ocoee River. I’m a city girl who barely went swimming, let alone venture into a river, so I was scared out of my mind. After we were shown the safety precaution video, I started crying because I really didn’t want to partake of the event. I feared one of the snakes would jump out of the river and bite me (yes, I was a weird child with a weird imagination). In order to make me feel safe, I was put in the raft with the faculty and staff. Even though I looked like a lame, I didn’t care; for I knew, the faculty and staff knew what they were doing, and I would rather be alive and look like a lame than to look cool with my peers and be dead in the river. I ended up making it out of the raft alive, and I got ready to eat lunch. I made some wonderful friends during that time, and I also made friends with a boy named Scott. Scott was extremely tall for his age. Standing at 5’10” at 14 years old, he was a gentle giant. He had dark hair, blue eyes, and he was also a boarding student from Georgia. We became friends instantly, and when we got on the bus to go back to campus, he sat next to me. I didn’t think anything of it because he was a fun boy (and cute). However, I felt the glaring stares from the Black boys on the bus. Mind you, these were also boys who didn’t dare come and speak to me, and when I tried to speak to them, they acted as though I wasn’t there. I continued to talk to Scott until we arrived on campus, and as I headed back to my dorm, I was stopped by two of the Black boys. One said, “I know you’re not going that route.” I thought he was talking about the way to get back to my dorm, and I responded, “I don’t know any other way to get back to the dorm. I’m still trying to figure out this campus.” The boys laughed and the leader proceeded to say, “I’m talking about the White boy. Y’all were talking a lot.” I kindly told the boy standing in front of me that Scott and I had just met each other, and we were cool. Before walking off, the Black boy said, “Well y’all can’t be anything more because it’s not right.” I walked off, and thought about those words for the rest of the day.
Scott and I continued our friendship, and eventually, he wanted us to date. Even though I wanted to, I refused. At the young age of 14, I felt some kind of sick loyalty to the Black boys. I call it sick because I soon found out the Black boys didn’t feel any kind of loyalty to me or any other Black girl because they didn’t date us, defend us, or care about us. Instead, they quickly dated anyone who wasn’t Black, and during a Harambee club meeting (a.k.a. the Black student club, LOL), a Black boy stood up and said something I will never ever forget. He said, “We date the White girls because we can, and we don’t like the Black girls. The Black girls are ugly. That’s not dysfunction; it’s the truth, and y’all just don’t like it.” There was long pause in the room after he said that. His statement was during a conversation while talking about the lack of communication and respect among the Black student population. Of course, the boy’s statement caused a heated conversation to follow, and I left the meeting because I had a chemistry class to attend. Plus I was pissed off, and I didn’t want to get kicked out of school for throwing my TI-89 calculator at his head. That statement made during the meeting stung me like a bee, and it hurt. Here we were, the Black girls, expected to be loyal and defend Black boys at such an early age, but yet we were being disrespected to our faces. The tension quickly thickened when a light-skinned, long haired Black girl began dating a White boy on campus. You would’ve thought she committed a crime due to how the Black boys acted. To them, their “pride and joy” was “dating the enemy.” They weren’t going to have it, and they teased and taunted the couple so much that the girl broke off the relationship and ended up dating one of the fellow Black boys (who ended up cheating on her with a White girl).
After that, no other Black girl dared dated a White boy, including me. We felt as though it wasn’t worth it. Scott and I continued to be friends, but sadly, he didn’t come back to Baylor the following year. There was one Black girl who “flirted” with the idea of dating a White boy, but she refused to take it far. Instead, she settled for her Ryan Lotche-looking friend (coincidently, he was also on the swimming team too) coming over to our dorm on the weekend, and watching TV with her. One of my friends and I would sneak and watch them as we passed by the entertainment room every ten minutes. She would have her head on his shoulder, and he would run his fingers through her natural hair. One time, they kissed, and we squealed and giggled. After getting caught, we ran away to our room and talked about whether or not they would end up dating.
Even though this girl was very opinionated and quick to tell someone where they could go if she felt slighted, she still harbored a sense of loyalty. She shut down this persistent guy’s attempts at making her his girlfriend due to the treatment from the Black boys, and even when he persisted while they were in college, she still said no. That’s too bad because that boy was FIONE, and he is now a lawyer working on Wall Street and happily married…to a Black woman. As for the girl, she has her master’s degree…and three babies by Black men but no husband.
As stated before, this notion of “loyalty” and the “place” of a Black woman in society when it comes to relations has followed me in my adulthood, and so many Black women fall victim to it. We hold onto a dream that more than likely will never manifest into a reality, and that dream is that our knight in shining armor…our prince charming…will come in the form of a Denzel Washington. We’re so willing to hold true to that dream, even in spite of the constant disrespect and “disloyalty” to us. It’s wrong, and it’s a form of conditioned, abusive psychology. This psychology leads us to suffer from many forms of mental and physical health ailments, including Sojourner Syndrome (which I will go into detail later in an upcoming post). I’m fortunate to have the veil of ignorance lifted from my face and realized that the only loyalty is the one I owe to myself and my God, and I wish so many more of us would realize the same. As one of my current professors constantly says (when we don’t study enough), we as people are given free will and a range of choices. The choices you make are yours, and the actions to follow will either benefit you or harm you. We as Black women must start making better choices for ourselves and our future or else we will continue in this conditioned cycle of self hatred and self doubt.
Hopefully next year, I will be able to attend my high school’s homecoming events with my husband on my arm. It will be nice to show Joseph my old dorm, the places where I studied, and take him to one of the most popular BBQ spots near campus that is filled with University of Alabama paraphernalia. It will be also nice to look in the faces the Black boys who told me “it’s not right” and professed Black girls are ugly as I also proudly introduce myself as Mrs. ____________, a current housewife, with a generous rock on my finger.
Yes, I think it will be a sight to see when I go home next year.