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It didn’t feel like love at first, more like companionship at our all-time lows.We were open with each other; he had been warned to stay away from black girls, and I was advised to not date men of color.Half of my mother’s four sisters are married to white men.

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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.

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.

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.

The only girl in my group of black girlfriends who had a boyfriend was dating a white boy who was white enough to have a family that hated black people. We would sit squished in a row behind them with all of our smirks perfectly even as they drove us home.

The year before I graduated college, black boys started dying on TV: Trayvon Martin, then Eric Garner, then Michael Brown, then Tamir Rice.

Our portrait was perfectly hung and constantly dusted for shine.

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