SKIN OF A DIFFERENT COLOR

My Fellow Journeyers,

When you are eleven years old and in the fifth grade you are not thinking of the possible complications of interracial dating. But my preference for blue eyes and dark hair was created when I was 11. I know it was a purely innocent choice, similarly made as if  one day I chose pink. I don’t think my choice of RT Smith was influenced by the media in sort of a “whitewashing” which might have made me  wish to be a blonde or have blue eyes- because I wasn’t allowed to watch a lot of television as a child. So, it wasn’t that.

I was attending a private Catholic Prep-school  in Chevy Chase Maryland. It was the 1960’s after the Civil Rights Bill of 1964 was signed into law. This affected my choice because there were only white boys attending my elementary school. I will admit, that maybe it was because RT Smith’s skin was tanned a deeper brown than mine skin that I particularly found him attractive.

I didn’t recognize at that innocent age of 11 that the combination of things that I liked about RT Smith were his trappings of wealth and extreme privilege. At 11 years old, he wore fine cotton shirts and silk ties that picked up the navy of his cashmere sweaters when fall and winter came.   His loafers with tassels were always highly polished and I sometimes wondered if he had more than one pair that he switched  out so that they always looked new.

I was goofy when I was 11, although I  already knew too much about the real world. None of us, however,  were yet aware of the issues of liking someone else with skin of a different color could create. We were still innocent that way.  I was a reddish brown girl with a big smile and a chipped front tooth that my parents could not afford to repair. I  along with everyone else could see that RT Smith was interested in me. He looked at me as if I were an exotic bird which he had never seen an now he saw me everyday in our fifth grade class.

I can still remember my girlfriends’ names from when I was in the fifth grade. I  even remember their last names.  I have long since changed my last name at least three times to add on the names of husbands to my name of Clark.   Nevertheless they were faithful friends in the way that 11 year old girls can be  before competition and cattiness was even thought about –  that was years away.  They set up an after school date at Lola’s house where RT and a few of his friends were asked to join our group of girls.  I was too loud, too obvious, and probably too aggressive- all  things that I am often times accused of as an adult woman.  He turned his head away from me and on to his math homework.

 

There would be a number of blue-eyed boys that came and went in and out of my life. I married one. Ran away to Europe with another, and might have married him- but for the fact that we moved to Baltimore.When I returned  to the United States and moved to Baltimore, Maryland after having lived a year in France and in Seattle for ten years prior, I was in for a racial awakening. No where  had I ever lived -and I had lived in Columbia South Carolina for a year-  had I experienced such palpable racism as in Baltimore.  Within 90 days of moving to Baltimore in the early summer of 2004,  I was refused service by a  white waitress at a small book store which has since closed and  has never re-opened and was spit at by a mentally ill black man who called me a “Rich Bitch.” This was the first 90 days. Within two years of these initial incidents I would be illegally stopped and detained by the Baltimore Police and on another occasion released with out a ticket even though I had clearly made an illegal turn. It was  perhaps at that detainment, black I was wearing a full length mink coat and strands of pearls. Who ever I was, they did not want to mess with me. The appearance of money sometimes speaks louder than race.
Baltimore ended my interracial relationships. I felt like a modern day Sally Hemings.  To put it succinctly, I felt too much animosity from both white and black people when I was dating my then Caucasian boyfriend.    I was also embarrassed by my white boyfriend artist from New Mexico. The fact that he always wanted to make public displays of affection which included patting my ass in public- which no man- regardless of color should ever do to me- he was broke and opinionated and no-one in Baltimore cared that he was a well known American/Hungarian sculptor and architect.
12 years later, I am still not seeking to date anyone including white males which many more than their black counterparts meet my financial and educational requirements.   I feel I could not adequately convey what my life is like as a black female in Baltimore to someone who might not emotionally understand what this might mean.  My race and all that it brings is an essential part of my make up-one that I cannot change.  With all of the difficulties in navigating relationships, I don’t want to add race; however, if I fell in love with a blue-eyed dark haired man, I would hope we could ride any tide that befell either of us- even in the highly inequitable Baltimore City.
In light and love,
Brianna S. Clark
Your Fellow Journeyer

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