Ever since I can remember, I have always been the only African American. I went to a predominantly white private school from Pre-K to fifth grade, participated in predominantly white sports and activities, and even lived in a predominately white neighborhood. So, it became natural that I started to like guys outside of my race.
My brother who is 8 years older than I am, has always dated interracially so I never thought anything of it when I started. My parents are absolutely amazing, and are very accepting. Growing up, I was used to being around white people, so I never thought dating them would be a problem.
When I entered high school, I had an on-again, off-again boyfriend who was African American who I was madly in love with (it was just the hormones). When we finally called it quits, I started seeing this really cute guy (he was not at all African American). Not only was he cute, but he was also smart and could make me laugh, which is the best way to earn brownie points.
The first time we went out, we went for ice cream (he won brownie points for that, too). There were senior citizens there when we walked in, and I politely smiled and continued to go to the register. As we got our order and sat down, I had a really weird feeling. When I looked around, I realized that they were all looking in my direction so I assumed that there was ice cream on my face. I wiped my face so many times, I could feel my skin getting dry. Anyway, even after I wiped my face, we were still getting looks, so I then thought it was because he was talking to loud so I told him to quiet down. But we were still getting looks. I had come up with so many excuses as to why they were looking at us: a wardrobe malfunction, something in my teeth, or my hair was messed up. I checked for all of those, but it wasn’t that. When I was finishing up my ice cream, I wiped ice cream off his face with a napkin and that’s when I saw what they saw: our skin color. I automatically remembered my best friend telling me a story about her family’s disapproval of her dating interracially and I knew that’s what they were looking at. The uncomfortable feeling I had was being judged for dating interracially.
After that date, I became more aware of the places we went, and the looks we got, which made me very self-conscious and insecure. I was constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure no one was looking at us, that it made me no longer want to go out. Over time, I talked to him less and less, and soon we weren’t talking at all. It was like a cycle, I would talk to guys outside of my race and really like them, but then I became self-conscious and eventually stopped talking to them.
It took about three more cycles for me to realize that those strangers in the ice cream shop had been dictating my life and I had been letting them. I was so worried about what others were thinking that it was getting in the way of my own happiness. Although my realization was amazing and changed my life, it came a little too late, and I lost some amazing people. Even though it’s good to please others, it should never get in the way of your happiness. Interracial dating taught me that if a person makes you happy, then no one else's opinion matters.