Born and raised in a community where you are the minority, yet you are white passing, was setting me up to fall for a white boy. There is nothing wrong in falling in love with your oppressor because white people are getting better (some more than others). Where I come from there is a lot of ignorance, so my number one fear was to fall in love with someone who was wearing a MAGA hat. While it didn’t happen, we still struggled with talking about politics or social issues because he just couldn’t fit into my shoes and I just couldn’t put his hat on.
Within the small group of minorities in my neighborhood, we didn’t date one another. We wanted more privileges and more opportunities to make our lives easier. If you walk into a store with Brad, Aaron, Carter, Ryan, or Wyatt, you aren’t going to be followed and observed; they aren’t going to be waiting for you to put something in your pocket because you are with the white boy. When two non-white people date we would ask why: Why make your life more difficult when you have so many choices of whites? Why love Dominique or Carlos? What are they going to give you? Unconditional color love and support? Fuck no, we want that white privilege!
The long eight months that I had with my first boyfriend was a great first relationship full of learning experiences. He wasn’t completely privileged as he experienced poverty. For him, his social status was low with his mother battling addiction and his father being a veteran. Neither of his parents went to a four year university; they struggled with finding stability. His father found it but his mother didn’t. He was born and raised in poor communities. He was overweight and he would get bullied. Besides his color of skin he was at the same level of privilege and opportunity as me. I was the loud white passing Colombian girl, who spoke her mind when there was an injustice; even with my colorful background, people expected me to become someone someday because white people love those stories about the colored underdog. Even if I was an honor roll student and even if he was a straight C’s student he still out-privileged me.
As I yell at him that he has something that the minority doesn’t have and that makes him have white privilege, he yells at me that white privilege doesn’t exist. I looked into his eyes and I said, “If white privilege doesn’t exist then my suffering is invalid.” I keep yelling that if white privilege doesn’t exist then why are black children being used as targets. If white privilege doesn’t exist then why are brown children being held in cages. If white privilege doesn’t exist then why do I have to explain to people that I am not white. If white privilege doesn't exist then why do their opinions change when I say my parents were undocumented immigrants? If white privilege doesn’t exist then why am I dating you? I didn’t say that last one.
I held back my tongue like I had with everyone else who didn’t understand. They will never understand that they don’t have to explain themselves. We have to explain that we aren’t hiding anything, but they don’t believe us because they can’t see through our skin and we are abused because of that assumption. Their skin color is transparency and our’s opacity. I thought it would be different after you fall for each other, but not even love can erase generations of ignorance. He told me to stop teaching him and just listen to him. I told him I have been since I was born and that it’s my turn to be listened to. He did try to apologize but the damage was done.
I will always remember you, Toni, because you are the first out of many white boys I am going to fall in love with. The first out of many I am going to teach. Even if we aren’t meant to be I hope you learn something from me because I sure as hell learned something from you. That our colored heads are too big to fit in their hats and their white feet are too small to fill in our colored shoes.