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.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.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.They smoked weed in their parents’ houses with abandon. If they wanted me, I thought, it was because I seemed free like them.He put his hand on my knee and reminded me that I was safe with him. And too many times, those same white boyfriends decided to sit out being my partner.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.Sometimes, they’re enraged — like the time when I called my last boyfriend after I left American Apparel in search of nipple covers for a white bodysuit. And then there are the quieter times, the ones that weigh more heavily, that bring us closer together.
” before heading for the door, but instead, I sit down, and continue talking about which dystopian novel best describes our current predicament, or whatever.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.Later, I tried to convey how hurt I was that he didn’t say anything, but he didn’t seem to understand how bewildered I was.There are, in my relationships with white men, so many moments like that.