During a bathroom break or a trip to the bar, I’ll check my phone, and almost always there is a news alert telling me Donald Trump is attempting to curtail, or has just succeeded in curtailing, the rights of marginalized people in America.It’s an odd thing to then go back to my date and continue the performance of “getting to know you.” I fantasize about walking up to him and saying, “Gotta go!” before heading for the door, but instead, I sit down, and continue talking about which dystopian novel best describes our current predicament, or whatever.Even if I did want to talk about how I feel, I’m not sure I’d be able to articulate it, especially to someone with such a different frame of reference from my own.The other day, I was on the subway platform playing my usual game, and I caught the eye of a black guy.It felt different this time, like the flirtatious version of the “black nod” at work — an acknowledgement between two black employees who might not even know one another, but who have a shared experience.In every relationship I have with a white man, there comes a moment when they come to understand a simple fact of my life: that racism is an intimate part of my daily existence.
Despite knowing I can feel intimacy with white guys, right now what divides us feels like a chasm.They smoked weed in their parents’ houses with abandon. If they wanted me, I thought, it was because I seemed free like them. Since college I’ve had five boyfriends, and all of them have been white. They’re no longer the object of my affection, a mirror for my self-worth, or an affirmation of my beauty. The night Trump was elected, I wrote about feeling lonely.I wanted to be comforted — but I wanted it to be by someone who had an inkling of the anxiety I felt for my family, my loved ones, and for myself.What I’m craving right now from a partner — more than feeling beautiful, more than anything — is a “black nod” version of a relationship.