“I’ve never had sex with a black girl before – is it pink inside?” Definitely not the most romantic words anyone can say to a young woman. Whether he found out from someone else, or Google, I’ll never know. What was certain about this potential sexual encounter was that it was abortive – over. My black vagina was not going to be his first medal in the ethnic Olympics. I got up and readied myself for the walk across the University of Manchester campus. The search for someone decent continued.
Things did much improve and with time I learnt to make better choices. I even met someone and dated him for a year and a half. The incest-like nature of university friendship groups meant that best friends dated other people’s best friends until we all became one group. And when we all broke up – luckily – we remained friends.
Two years later, celebrating our maturity, we had a reunion in Manchester. Ahead of the trip, my colleagues praised our ability to have kept in touch and still get along. Sat together in a beer garden, huddled under the one patio heater, we began to catch up.
“I went to Moss Side carnival the other day and I could feel people being racist towards me,” this was something my ex-boyfriend said, and yes he is white. I could feel my rage sizzling under the surface. He then finished by saying, “but I understood why.”
“They weren’t being racist to you, that’s not a thing,” I replied.
“She’s right – the fact you can have some kind of bird’s eye view of it all, feel you can be ‘understanding’, and not impacted by it is exactly why it’s not racism,” my friend interjected.
“Yeah I guess. I dunno, I’m working in a kitchen at the moment so I’m not really having these conversations but I was never really into this kind of stuff anyway. People say racist and sexist stuff all the time and I never laugh or anything but there’s not much I can do about it either, as I have to be there everyday.”
I thought back to my collection of cut outs from the Evening Standard on institutionalised racism in the Metropolitan police, needing to prove it existed so I could show him. Or maybe even try to explain that any of my actions could impact an entire section of our society, and how people saw us. “Who cares what people think,” he said. That is when I knew I could never be with someone again where ‘race’ wasn’t important to them. Being kind or funny just isn’t enough.
With each feminist text and page of Frantz Fanon, I feared my ability to meet someone who didn’t cause me to erupt into debate and ruin a dinner date was dwindling. How many smart, interesting, well-educated 20-something left-wing anti-racist feminists are there in the world – 1000 at most? And where are they?!
“If you pick and you pick, you pick shit,” mum enlightened me helpfully one day on the phone. She probably said it in fear that her only child was never going to have children. What’s more is that, of all the West Indian phrases, it was the least imaginative and at this point, my least favourite.
“I’m only 25 mum,” I retorted. “I have to go.”
Although, she did have a point. In Aziz Ansari’s book “Modern Romance,” psychotherapist Esther Perel tells us that people are demanding more when looking for someone to date: someone who is your best friend, great at sex, similar interests but teaches you new things; not boring but provides you with stability. To add to this, the university gender gap, over the past decade has widened, more and more young women are graduating from university whilst the number of men has been declining. So when my friend cried – “WHERE IS HE??!!” In the smoking area of a club, we all empathised.
Dating is already terrible – but what happens when you add ‘race’ into the mix? It shouldn’t be too much to ask for someone to not be a racist but previous articles like ‘Being mixed-’race’ on Tinder’ and ‘My Tinder date told me I’d look better with lighter skin,’ have made it clear this it is. All of this is before you’ve even arrived at stage two: do we share similar values and interests? Do you like books? Can you deal with my strong opinions and tendency to fall asleep on public transport? Once you’ve filtered out the fetishisers, microagressors and deleted the penis pictures, how many people are left? And by then – are you too exhausted to carry on swiping? I also can’t be bothered to spend the rest of my days schooling anyone in ‘race’ or feminist issues.
So I propose a new website – wokeonlyanti-racistfeministnicepeople.com with app coming soon. Investment welcome.