We were friends. Nothing more. Just two kids from Jersey traveling abroad who happened to bump into each other by stereotypical mistake. His White European friends dared him to go and talk to that Black Brazilian girl sitting on the beach, who was really a Black American girl in disguise.
After listening to his tired pick up line in American-accented Portuguese, I cut him off and bluntly asked him in English where he was from. But he was persistent and followed up by Skyping me that evening again extending his invitation.
I still politely declined. A few days later, he was headed to a nearby island and invited me to come along to explore. I was looking to get away from the city, so I accepted, of course, booking my own hotel room and arriving days late on my own schedule.
We spent the following days hanging out, walking the beach, but still keeping things platonic. He had met and pursued a local Brasilian girl who was beyond sweet. I was prejudiced, or in kinder words, had a preference for brown beautiful men. Eventually, our vacation ended and he headed to the south of Brasil to start his new job. I returned to the city to continue living my life, and we kept in touch through semi-frequent Skype chats about our lives as Americans in Brazil.
He told me to hit him up when I came to his city. And when I finally made the trip, I did. It had been almost six months since we had first met, and I certainly had changed. I had opened a different chapter in my dating life, one that included more interracial dating than relationships with Black men in Brazil.
So when we hung out, all of the sudden our platonic friendship transformed into a prospect, even though it had likely already been a prospect for him months back. I was sick, blowing my runny nose, and coughing, but he still wrapped his arms around me, made me tea, and made sure I was comfortable in his home. Prior to that, I had shared my body with White Brasilians and Argentineans. But this was different. This made me feel like my growth had come full circle, as I struggled growing up in a predominately White Jersey suburb to feel like interracial dating was an option for a young Black woman.
While young Black men certainly enjoyed relationships with young White women in my town, Black girls rarely were seen exploring the same types of relationships.
Part of it was prejudice; part of it was reality. I grew up believing a number of stereotypes about non-Black men, especially when it came to sex. If you asked most of my friends, their packages tended to be small unless they were of Latin or Italian descent, but they made up for it in the oral sex arena. My first time with this White kid from Jersey was intense. But it did make me reflect on why I had limited myself for so long to just having sex and dating Black men or never challenging the popular stereotypes. We know how hard it is to fight against the stereotypes of black women as lascivious, innately promiscuous, and even predatory, deviants— and yet we feel more than justified in projecting our own labels on others, unfairly sizing up men and defining their capabilities between the sheets or lack thereof based on what so-and-so- said instead of considering the realities of the individual that just might be the guy who can makes your toes curl.