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The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

That Girl I was With the Other Night

Recently, I found myself in a circumstance that is both rare and terrifying for me: I found myself in a relationship. I know, it was a shock to me too. Having found a woman who was, surprisingly as it may seem, interested in associating with me romantically, I lost no time in beginning the association. A few appearances together at social gatherings, and soon we were part of the rumor mill.

            After we went Facebook official (at her insistence. According to her, a relationship doesn’t count if it isn’t on the internet), I ran into a friend whom I had seen at one such social gathering. “Hey, I heard you have a girlfriend now,” he said with a thinly veiled tone of surprise, “Is it that black girl I saw you with the other night?” Thinking little of the statement at the time, I promptly responded in the affirmative. My girlfriend is awesome, and I don’t at all mind people seeing us together. When I thought about it later, however, I found the question rather problematic.

            Let me begin by saying that I don’t for a moment think that my friend is a racist. He’s a nice guy, and my opinion of him didn’t change at all when we had this recent conversation. However, some observations about its accuracy and implied meaning should be made.

First of all, my girlfriend isn’t black, she’s mixed (half black, half white). True, her dominant features come from her black side, but saying that she’s only black is an oversimplification. Referring to her as solely black ignores half her heritage, especially since she gets along with her mother (who is white) much better than her father (who is black).

The thought that stayed with me was that he could have left her race out of the conversation entirely and it wouldn’t have changed. We both remember the last time he saw me. We both remember who I was with. It’s not like he saw me with an entire harem, which might justify asking for some specifics and clarification of exactly which concubine I had committed to. He could very well have just said, “Is it that girl I saw you with the other night?” I would still have known exactly who he was referring to, and I still would have said yes. That got me thinking, what if she had been white? Or just very tan? Would he have said, “Was it that white/tan girl I saw you with the other night?” With all due respect to my friend, I very much doubt it. So, why did it change when she was mixed?

I’ll give my friend the benefit of the doubt, as I’m sure he only meant it as a genuine point of clarification. Truth be told, I may well have said something similar if roles were reversed. Having thought about it, however, I don’t think I will anymore.



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