I cut off every curl.
Every nappy thread that would forever belong to him
unless I disposed of them.
Even now, when I lie alone at night and close my eyes I
can feel his cool fingertips tracing through my scalp.
Until he clutches his fist, my strands tangled around his fingers, forcing my head back.
His mouth suspended above my lips.
Or was it a bite?
I had never dated a white guy before. I had never considered not wearing a weave before. But he loved my hair, so I tried him on along with my afro. My natural hair would usually frighten men away, and I believe I actually heard my father scream once when he saw me, Afro unveiled. Feeling beautiful without the artificial additives was empowering. But what does empowerment look like hung against a black background? Perhaps it’s similar to that day when you first take off your training wheels, or when you slip your bra through the sleeve of your shirt upon arriving home, or the first time you say “no,” without explanation. I believe they call this liberation. I think I love my first white boyfriend for this reason alone.
My friend Khalil asked me for a number.
The number of white guys I had dated that viewed me as an object of exoticism. I stopped for a moment. A long moment. For I had never considered this to be a part of my narrative. This contemplation was not a result of ignorance, but confidence. A confidence in my capability to recognize this type of purveyor immediately and never fall victim to such. I told Khalil, “a few.” He laughed loudly, “I’m sure there have been more than a few.”
When my lover and I dress to go out for dinner we mustn’t forget our armor. I think I may need to apply three layers to his one. We never know what we may encounter but it certainly depends on which neighborhood we are braving. There are always those who assume that we are not a couple and I am most definitely not his wife, because black women aren’t wives. If we’re on the Upper East Side the old white couples glare, eyes consumed with evil. In Harlem the black men shake their heads in shame and shout across Lenox, “You aight sis?” The black women either pity you or smile encouragingly with an applauding wink. And then there is always the liberal white couple downtown that says you look like a celebrity couple and tell you how cute your children would be with raised voices so that everyone can hear how progressive they are.
I Googled: Black porn
Tight Black Girl Pounded
Black Whore Punished
I Googled: White porn
Beautiful Blonde Amateurs
When Girls Play
Two Kittens Make Sweet Love
It is difficult to spot bruises on black skin, but when I look closely I can see your blues.
I met a beautiful foreign man a while back. He was kind, gentle, and had a peaceful demeanor. He had long cool blonde hair and olive oil eyes. We met at a hookah bar where he told me he was visiting from Vienna for four weeks. He had recently arrived in New York and wanted to hear live jazz music. We exchanged numbers so that I could send him information about great places to visit in the city.
I met him again, four weeks later, hours before he was to depart and return to Austria. I asked him about his time in the city and what he had done during his adventures. He smiled brightly. I assumed he had seen the Statue of Liberty and eaten hot dogs with mustard on Broadway. But, no. He beams that he had sex with a black woman for the first time and he had never felt so white.
“I’ve always associated black women with wild sex but I’ve always been told black women don’t give head. Anyway, both weren’t true.”
God bless America.
It’s often difficult to differentiate between the impact of a kiss and a bite. Both can impose intense pressure and cause persistent numbness. Both can induce a rupturing of blood vessels beneath the skin. Some refer to this as a bruise, or maybe you call this a passion mark.
Sasha Bonét is a writer and activist based in New York City. She is a recent graduate of Columbia University’s creative writing MFA program, and is currently at work on a collection of essays around the idea of radical black feminism in America. Her work ranges from topics of feminism, race, studies of cultural origins and travel.
Artwork by Damon Locks