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After years and years of internalizing the beauty standard promoted all around me, I headed off to college with a low self-esteem and essentially no sense of self-worth.
I went out to a frat party with my roommate on our first night.
But then something happened: people started talking to me, flirting even.
Once I escaped the small, isolated microcosm of Upstate New York, I met people who didn't think of me just based off of my skin color.
Black women have told me it's because I'm a sellout.
The white men who can get past the mental anguish of my black penis tarnishing "their" women think I'm making some latent admission that their race has the most attractive women... I'm not a "black man" who "dates white women." I'm a person.
I have my own unique experiences and some of them include having dated women who are white, but because interracial dating is such a historically tense and loaded subject, it's hardly ever looked at with any understanding or compassion for the people personally involved.
The concept of a black man in a relationship with a white woman is a "thing" that people have an opinion on...
He would lie with his head in my lap, and I would run my fingers through the blond strands.
When you look at the role models of my youth, the people and products the media put forth and said, “This is beauty personified,” you’ll notice a distinct theme: Barbie, Britney Spears, Polly Pocket, Sailor Moon, Mandy Moore, Mary Kate and Ashley — all white.
I was fully submerged, I mean genuinely immersed, in a culture where people like me weren’t valued as beautiful, so much so that I remember wishing the thick, coarse hair on my American Girl doll, Addy, was straighter and “prettier,” like that of my other dolls.
I was in a new city and in a completely new situation.
I expected things to be similar to the way they were in high school.