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. Shocked, he laughed and said, “I totally thought you were Brazilian.” He wouldn’t be the first to make the assumption.
Nonetheless, he invited me back to meet his friends, who were staring at him in disbelief thinking he’d actually succeeded in picking up this Brazilian girl. He broke the ice immediately and said, “She’s American.” And once again, I got the line, “We thought you were Brazilian!” 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 because I had articles to finish and work to do. 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. 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-Brazilian 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 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.
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 Stereotypes”:
“We think we have evolved into new-millennium modern-day thinkers, but black women all over the country, regardless of education and socioeconomic status, are living with age-old ideas when it comes to our consideration of the ideal sexual partner. We yearn to embrace our sexual bliss, and yet have allowed what our mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and sister-friends have said about “them” keep us from pursuing something new. 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.”
My toes curled, more than once. I screamed, a few times. And even though I doubt me and this kid from Jersey will ever be more than just friends due to our chosen life paths (he’s ready to settle in one place and pursue a serious relationship, I want to keep traveling and find a partner who is willing to go with me), it was still worth giving us the opportunity to share intimacy, a deeper level of connection, and now, a stronger friendship.
I don’t know what color my husband will be, or what culture he’ll be from, but I will say this. It’s amazing what I’ve learned in life when I’m open to more than one possibility. I’m no longer limiting my options in love or sex.
Have you ever tried sex with someone outside your race and found it went against popular stereotypes? Did you enjoy yourself or did you want to ‘go back home’? Share your story.
Arielle Loren is the Editor-in-Chief of Corset, the go-to magazine for all things sexuality. Find her on Facebook and Twitter. Download Corset’s inaugural issue now and join the community’s daily discussions.