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He rode skateboards and carried around napkins in his front pocket, a habit he’d learned from his grandpa.

He joked like friends from my hometown, but there was a newness to his voice that I didn’t know.

I wondered how men with such delicate bodies seemed to be the only ones who could endure the storm. We bought crop tops, tight jeans, and earrings so big that they touched our shoulders.

When my cousin on the all-black side birthed a baby girl whose father had become abusive, we took a long ride to a shopping mall. On the ride home we were quiet and I decided I would never date a black man as long as my feet touched this earth.

It felt too ironic; the first black man who I dated had left me in exactly the way that I feared.

He had grown tired of letting me pretend, I realized.

I started dating my first official black boyfriend, a neuroscientist, shortly after.I had hushed conversations in the corners of cafés about how important it was to keep feeding the black community with positive affirmations and how it began with loving black men.I wore Black Lives Matter buttons, attended marches, sported hoodies, vowed to date only black men, and prepared myself to raise a son who might be faced with a death in the same vein as Trayvon, a name I had spoken so often that it felt like that of a brother.She was looking to me for advice on raising a fatherless child, considering my firsthand experience. It was like that for a while—dismissing every suitor who resembled my father.We rolled down the windows in her beat-up car and took in as much air as we could. Every black girl I knew was saying, “Get yourself a white man,” as though they were selling out quick.

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