Ok. I pick a woman from 2020.
My girlfriend laughed when I said what I wanted.
“You are black! Black girls will never be models.” She stopped quickly and her expression became more sympathetic.
I was angry. Tearing my gaze away down into my eyes in the coffee cup, they were as beautiful as everyone said. My blonde boyfriend loves my eyes. He never hits me unlike her ex-boyfriend did - who’s dad sadly didn’t teach him better because he was never there.
His parents love me. I wish I could say the same of my parents about him. My uncle loves him, but he’s from Africa. South Africa, but he always encourages me to just say Africa, like America is many states, but one. He’s a pan-African. He’s more open with me about these things than with my folks because we agree on politics these days.
I‘m voting for Trump, and so is he. Gone is the America who pretends the KKK can be ignored. Now, because of Trump, they are officially domestic terrorists.
Helping him at his thriving business on the edge of town, I told my uncle later that day what my friend said. Motioning me to sit in his golf cart before he drove us off his green he said, “You are an American! With the biggest, most beautiful dark brown eyes and strong bone structure. Your skin is flawless like your mother’s. Go for it! I moved here because it is the land of opportunity, so I could build my dreams and take those advantages back home!”
He also plans to take us back to Africa with him when he is ready. He tried talking with my parents about this desire last week for the first time. Mom and Dad are scared of the idea. They don’t feel like they will fit in, as they only speak English. But I’m excited!
They all agree it will be culture shock, and it sounds scary but I always love a good thrill! Next year my parents will let me visit with my uncle and his kids during summer break. They hope I’ll realize how much easier American culture is. Instead I will learn and bring home my confidence and experience and I really think Uncle and I will break them! They don’t realize how stubborn we can be!
I was warned, though. Even my uncle wonders if I will get the career of my dreams where we move. It might be more like settling. Lots of hard work, stumbling through awkward and even dangerous language confusion. South Africa has seen a lot of violence. This is where Uncle might suggest that we be open to other areas of Africa and remember, she is one, and she will be, again. But I was really hoping we could see my uncle’s home town. Sadly, it is on an unstable border. Maybe in ten years. Peace is spreading across the world. I have more hope today than ever before.
Lately, though, it’s been weird. I saw a man who was wearing blue (who looked too much like my dad for comfort) getting assaulted and called unbelievable names by white college kids who were trying to “dox” him.
I try not to let anything scare me, but I’m feeling nervous about the street activism these days. And then I saw a skinny guy with earrings in a pink shirt being screamed at because he had on a pink MAGA hat. One girl even threw her drink at him and called him bad word meaning - a bundle of sticks. You know the name. I’m sickened. Some white teens attacked my boyfriend yesterday and said he was a racist, to which I shouted, “he’s my boy, F-off!”
They screamed back “his parents have a flag like a bunch of fascists!” One of them pushed him. I got so mad I jumped and grabbed her hair, throwing her to the ground. She didn’t dare hit me. I got to go on a field trip because I’m BIPOC. It wasn’t a minority field trip, but the white kids in my class only - were excluded. Teacher’s idea.
Suddenly I felt bad for her and got up. She’s annoying and wrong as can be but she’s trying to do the right thing and now I have too much power.
The teacher steps in. Only asking me how I was. I said nothing to get the brat in trouble because only she would be punished with detention. I’d seen it before. She was too privileged to get away with anything. My stomach turning, I suddenly really wanted to leave America even more.
Thank you for an interesting interpretation of the challenge, in the way you have situated the Black persona of your vicarious experience. You have been quite convincing in grappling with “the issues.” Here is what I have gleaned from your presentation:
Yours is a smoothly integrated character of the 21st century with the not-atypical ambition of believing you could be a model—after all, many Blacks of both sexes have been successful models on the world stage.
The interracial bridge has already ferried you into the arms of an Afrikaner (assuming he is of Dutch East Indian origin) lover. Your girlfriend is evidently also Black because, if she were White, she would have found a covert way to let you know that Black girls “cannot become models.”
The parents of your South African boyfriend are more receptive to interracial relationships than the typical White American; they have no issue with BIPOC. You are an American citizen—you can exercise the franchise to vote. Strong family support gives you confidence in yourself (appearance included), although your self-esteem faces its fair share of challenges.
Well sheltered at school, you seem to hold some privileged position among teachers and students, and you are not afraid to flaunt your aggressive power in the streets, as in the fracas that required you to defend your boyfriend. You know you have some power, yet you do not always want more trouble than necessary for your assailants.
I am not certain that you or your parents want to move back home with your boyfriend to SA. You are willing, despite the possibility of having to shelve your modeling dream, but they are uncertain because of the language barrier. Violence is another factor that concerns your family—would you be safer remaining in the USA?
Why would anyone call your bf racist: is it because of his SA origin, which teeters on the edge of White supremacy and deep skin discrimination? Or could it be based on the notion that he seems more like a White traitor for endearing himself to a Black girl?
I hope I have interpreted you accurately and wholesomely. Your sense of situation comes across powerfully and convincingly. I believe you have done with my challenge what lepp was asking me to do with his. I hardly believe I could manage as well as you, because I live in Jamaica, where racial lines are invisible in everyday living and I would not have the experiential vocab to do justice to such a perspective.