We were friends. Nothing more. Just two kids from Jersey traveling abroad that happened to bump into each other by stereotypical mistake. His White European friends dared him to go and talk to that Black Brasilian girl sitting on the beach, who was really a Black American girl in disguise. After listening to his tried pick up line in American-accented Portuguese, I cut him off and bluntly asked him in English where he was from. Shocked, he laughed and said, “I totally thought you were Brasilian.” He wouldn’t be the first to make the assumption.
Nonetheless, he invited me back to meet his friends staring at him in disbelief thinking he actually succeeded in picking up this Brasilian girl. He broke the ice immediately and said, “She’s American.” And once again, I got the line, “We thought you were Brasilian!” After watching the sunset together, he invited me to meet up with them to salsa that evening. I wouldn’t give him a definite answer, as I had articles to finish and work to do. But he was persistent, followed up by Skyping me that evening re-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. And frankly, I just wouldn’t let my guard down to the idea of hooking up with a white American guy when there were so many Afro-Brasilian men in my surroundings. 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 Brasil. 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 Brasil. 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.
My toes curled, more than once. I screamed, a few times.
What followed was a “first” to remember, as we took our time kissing and exploring each other’s bodies for the first time. While I know I wasn’t the first black woman he ever had sex with, he was the first White American that I had ever let into such an intimate space. 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. But the opportunities weren’t equal or treated the same.
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. So when I finally allowed myself to sexually enjoy and explore men of other races and cultures, I found these stereotypes blatantly untrue, just as several of the Black men that I had shared my body with didn’t live up to the Mandingo standard.
My first time with this White kid from Jersey was intense. The sex was focused primarily on my pleasure, and he wasn’t lacking in anyway to be able to deliver it. 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.
Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn, co-author of the soon-to-be released Swirling: How to Date, Mate, and Relate Mixing Race, Culture, and Creed, put it best in the chapter called, “Let’s Talk About Sex … and