Two months ago I dumped a ¨nice¨ white dude I met on Tinder nearly two years ago. I had begun exploring a couple sites and apps when I began to reconsider what led me to such an unhappy relationship to begin with. Was my profile as misleading as his? If I was to create a dating profile that ¨men fight for,¨ I’d want to make a good first impression so the core of who I really am would not be highlighted. I would first choose some fun pics that, by chance, also accentuate my assets. Then I´d write that I play guitar and piano (poorly, lol) and that I also practice Mixed Martial Arts(this would accentuate that I’m ¨one of the guys,¨ teehee) and 3D art. I might specify that I love the outdoors, cooking, reading, writing and travel – I may even show off that I have been to 18 countries and have lived on three continents (I would add an amazing deep-water-solo-climbing-in-Thailand pic and a black-water-rafting-in-New Zealand shot as proof). Since societal norms tell me me to avoid discussing religion and politics, I would definitely leave out that I am a socialist, secular, social justice activist (alliteration only half-intended).
Current Mood: Fire Squad by J. Cole
Someone once shrieked that there was ¨nothing normative¨ about me. True story. So, in a non-normative fashion I am creating a new profile in my own space. BEWARE! THIS IS NOT A TYPICAL DATING PROFILE! I´m about to try something totally different now because I am 32 years old and I’ve been dating unhappily for over a decade now. I will now avoid that bullshit advice that tells me to hide who I am because I am now listening to the ¨own it¨ culture of my Millennials. In the words of Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Proudly and loudly I will shout from any rooftop my identities as a bilingual, Latinx, mestiza, dual citizen of the U.S. & Ecuador, cis-hetero mujer, socialist, secular, social justice activist and a third year Ph.D. student (alliterations intended)!!
Today commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery (#Juneteenth). In the past week, though, the world learned just how little Black Lives Matter in the U.S. This Father’s Day weekend was marked by Philando Castile´s cop- killer being acquitted and then Charleena Lyle being gunned down by a cop also in front of her children.
So, what does all of this have to do with my current dating dilemma? I do not want to believe that you can be a beautiful, decent, intelligent individual worthy of dating unless you truly believe and live Black Lives Matter. I vow to center Black Lives Matter in all aspects of my life starting by explaining why and how I came to understand the movement, which also explains the following 5 key facts about who I am and what you’re in for when dating me (and I will wear one of my #BLM tees on my profile pics and all first dates from now on too!):
- I am unapologetically a New Yorker (so I say it like it is) who grew up in Sanford, Florida (so I will let out some y’alls). Not only was there active Ku Klux Klan groups nearby, but hate crimes were committed frequently in my neck-of-the-woods. Sanford was cruel to me and most black and brown folks I knew and heard about. Remember Trayvon Martin? That beautiful black body was destroyed about 6 miles away from my childhood home. The killer was acquitted because racism is not aberrational. This started the Black Lives Matter Movement. The first tenet of Critical Race Theory, CRT, claims the centrality of race and racism in society, and that racism is a permanent component of American life (Delgado & Stefancic, 2012, p. 8). In other words, “Racism is a permanent part of the American landscape,” racism and white supremacy are normative (Bell, 1992, p. 92).
- After undergrad, I went back to New York City to join a non-traditional teacher preparation program to obtain my Master´s and a teacher certificate. I´ve been teaching for nearly twelve years now – five of those years were spent in various Title I schools of Central Florida and the Bronx in impecunious neighborhoods. In that time, I learned about the “The ‘social construction’ thesis, another theme in CRT, holds that race and races are products of social thought and relations” and since race and racism are not biological or genetic and traits, such as intelligence or behavior, they are not predictable through racial observation and or generalizations (Delgado and Stefancic, 2012, p. 8). I have been witness to such terrible, inhumane practices that uphold the social construction thesis such as stop-and-frisk and policies that lead to the proliferation of the school-to-prison-pipeline.
- During my time in New York City, I began to fight inequities in my classrooms and in the streets with the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) and the Movement of Rank and File Educators or (MORE). With the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, I learned the definition of ¨race¨: A specious classification of human beings created by Europeans (in the 17th-18th centuries) using “white” as the model of humanity for the purpose of establishing and maintaining social status and privilege and a legitimate relationship to power.
- I now live in Mid-Michigan, where there is“the positioning of white cultural norms and ways of life as the advanced and most beneficial way of living for everyone, including non-whites…” (Warren, 2012, p. 199). Passive form of racism, such as microaggressions, are normalized and embedded in every form of life and are unnoticed and unchallenged. As a woman of color, I experience microaggressions nearly daily in Michigan. I was once told by the Aveda institute that their free blow out offer is not meant ¨for my type of hair.¨ I also get random strangers in grocery stores asking me how to peel and eat ¨exotic¨ produce. People are often shocked that I ¨speak English so well¨ and that I´m educated (in sharp contrast to my monolingual, uneducated white ex, who has poor orthographical skills but people always assume he is well-educated).
- I openly admit that I once believed in white supremacy. I cannot deny it. I own it now. I once believed there was a right way to speak, dress and act. ¨If it ain´t white, it aint right,¨ I used to joke with my friends (who were all white then). I once believed in the myth of meritocracy and that the reason my family ¨made it¨ was because we worked hard and learned to assimilate. I even admit that before I moved to NYC at 23, I´d only dated white men. It is painful to admit because I, too, always believed that I was a well-meaning person that doesn’t contribute to racism and oppression. But now I know better. I know that Latinx anti-Blackness killed Trayvon and Philando and I´m committed to un-educating myself about what bell hooks coined: imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. We have been lied to for so long about power and privilege, who is allowed to have power, privilege and who is liberated and truly free.
I am not looking for ¨nice¨
Nice is neutral, a standard. Nice means polite and silent in the face of truth. I used to think excellent dates were with people whose company I enjoyed sober (this is still half true because I rarely drink now). I also once thought I could only date men who liked to read, listened to grunge music and hated videogames. But dating for me is now about finding a partner. I have now found that what I look for and require of a partner is not that much different than what I look for and require out of my friends – these people, who I consider my chosen family, are by my side during protests or helping me getting signatures to support a cause. I seek integrity, honesty, kindness, empathy and justice and I am committed to undoing racism by loving and supporting Blackness and doing so loudly and proudly. This does not mean that I will only date black men or that I will avoid white men. To be clear, I can only be with someone who centers their own humanity by humanizing others. Some people write their favorite quotes on their profiles, so here are mine:
¨We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.¨ – James Baldwin
¨If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.¨ -Desmond Tutu