Wishing tinder had a clause that said, “Black Girl Magic might die a little here” so that my early twenties wouldn’t be colored in eggplant emojis and jarring pillow talk. As Valentine’s Day nears and I celebrate the beautiful bliss of my first long-term commitment to my partner, I remember the occasional blips. I look in the mirror and remind myself I came a long way from swiping into the yes zone and picking a profile that didn’t hold a dead fish on a hook. That chaos of potential dating partners will forever be a lesson in patience and mental endurance. However, there is one lesson I wish I had pulled out earlier in my life to save me from the mental loops I pulled to agree with cis men. That lesson is at no point should a potential partner need to utter about how excited they are for sleeping with some aspect of your identity for the first time. If that partner does so, dip, bob and weave out of there and go shopping for someone else.
A lot of years went by, where the preliminary sexual encounter started with “I’ve never been with a… (insert identifier)”. Whether it was my Blackness that was exotic, my kinky hair or lack of it, my sexual identity, my body type, or even hell my academic alignment. At this point, I don’t want to hear anything close to “I’ve never been with a…” Words rush out before any foreplay, after tongue-tying kisses, or before the dinner bill is set on the table. It’s exhausting to feel like the appeal of your person is limited to your identity in some physical manifestation. At this point in the Buzzfeed quiz culture, pick and choose your partners on zodiac signs, Hogwarts Houses, or even what type of tea they prefer. Anything that doesn’t rely on ethnicity, sexuality, or physical looks. If you want someone who falls in those “Identifier” categories, keep that horrible personality trait and opinion to yourself.
The first cis man to say “I’ve never been with a Black Girl” was back in my cyber stranger dancing on online chats. I used to think that those words meant something special and that I was the sword in the stone. HOWEVER, quickly hearing a repetition of those words, I began to catch on to the foolishness. People really had a checklist of sexual counters to have and/or had a social hierarchy that allowed them to view partners as tokens or awards in sexual exoticism. It made me sick. Gasping for my chocolate dewy thighs is not a compliment, especially not for the woman who actually is allergic to chocolate. The mess continued both on online dating, direct messages on social media, and occasionally in person. Hearing these words over and overkilled romanticism, chivalry, and the ideals of a young hopeless romantic. What was a girl to do? I didn’t think I would hear anything worse than “Never been with a…” until I experienced the grown-up version. I started to listen to words like “I don’t see color.”
That’s when all hell broke loose in my mind. How could a Black girl date in a society where fifty percent over sexualizes her identity into fetishism, and the other half just completely erase it? The worst part is, juggling between those two phrases its hard to tell which is worst to experience. As I navigated college and college experimentation, I started to hear that phrase more. Coming out of the “Never been with the era,” I was eagerly open to partners who said anything but that. The first time I heard the words “I don’t see color,” I thought it was endearing. In a youthful, naive way, I thought it was cute. Little did I know those very words would haunt my pink-tinted world. He was just another man; like many before him, that phrase was simply a golden ticket into my pleasure ridden city. It took a really long time for me to understand that some words are too easily said without understanding but quickly rewarded.
The phrase “I don’t see color” is an upside-down compliment. A saying that sounds like it has good intentions but is rather cruel. It is a token phrase in gaslighting, fetishization, and diet racism (Micro-aggressions). I heard it a lot while dating or interacting with new melanin deficient people outside of campus. Writing off the phrase because it sounds like the person accepts you is easy. It feels like you win a relationship with someone who won’t let your Blackness affect them. However, let’s stop for a moment and think about what that means. Not “seeing color” isn’t equivalent to racism-free. In fact, please take it as someone who sees the issues and ignores it because it’s easier for them to not engage with the matter. Ignorance is not bliss; it’s dangerous. Having someone dismiss your Blackness in favor of ignorant peace is not a win. The problem is my non-color seeing folk will be the very ones to call the police for suspicious black happenings in their neighborhood. The men I met that kept saying “I don’t see color” were utterly ignorant of minority politics and injustice. Lividly cuddled by a Trump-supporting two pump chump killed the dating joys of college experimentation.