Racial Profiling the International Lover

By Celeste T. Parker

They say the best way to get over a man is to get under a new one.  They also say that in order to find him, you have to get lost—in new classes, hobbies…even in aisle four of Home Depot as you feign the need for help with screws and…ahem, wood.  Not that I’ve tried it.  In other words, you need to get out more.  After all, “the one” is not going to just show up on your doorstep. 

Although it didn’t knock, opportunity was found dialing the lobby phone of my condo.  I kid you not, Avon came-a-calling, or at least a delivery man built just like I like ‘em: a broad, burly, blue-black brother to the night.  He handled his package with ease, but struggled to locate its’ recipient on the phone’s roster.  His goatee surrounded his lips like the chasing lights of a Hollywood marquee.  I was seeing stars and struggling to stand flat-footed on the red carpet.  When he looked in my eyes and solicited my help in locating said neighbor, I thought the Great Carpenter in the Sky had hand-made and shipped this man to me.  Better still was when his foreign tongue revealed he was an overseas delivery.  God I love an accent.  “Lord please let him be from Jamaica” I swiftly and secretly prayed.  I was flying high until he disclosed his Nigerian origin. 

Now before you call Jesse and Al on me, or threaten to take my Black card—hear me out.  I consider myself pretty liberal and open-minded.  Throughout my love life I’ve cried many a river and so without hesitation if given the chance I would no doubt make the switch and take a dip in a “Timberlake.”  And I ain’t mad at Paula Patton, but if I were fortunate enough to wake up to the sweet song of a Robin like that, GirrrlI would at least hyphenate my Thicke-ness.  At this point in my life, with the residents of Prospectville being fewer and farther between on the marital map I’ve declared myself an international lover, open to love in all shades, or so I thought.  As an African American, female, and teacher how could Ipossiblybe prejudiced?  Yet as I later Googled “Nigerian men” and speed-dialed my sister-friend whose divorce settlement included a slew of slurs based on her former matrimony with one from the Motherland, Spirit revealed the African elephant in the room…me. 

The fact that there are websites dedicated to classifying the dateability of a race gave me momentary solace.  “So I’m not the only one who’s had these thoughts,” I tried to convince myself.  But plurality does not justify prejudice.  Regardless of how plentiful the jokes about African men’s attentiveness being a means to citizenship, dominance, etc., every punch line ain’t funny.  No matter how deeply rooted, the fruit of stereotypes is not sweet, nor is it always true. 

Unfortunately my international flight was grounded.  First, I checked myself in and sat down my baggage of bias.  Then dude caused too much turbulence—and it had nothing to do with his nationality.  His answers to how many children he has didn’t line up.  One day he had three, the next week he had four.  “Mi twinz dere two fah one.”  Naw bruh, the exchange rate for offspring is the same back home as it is in these here United States.   Call me picky, but no matter where you’re from or who you are: North, South, East or Kanye West—children are a gift to be proud of.  I was turned off after that.  I therefore stamped his passport with doubt and suspicion and decided to keep it movin.’  Although I hate layovers I’ve decided to wait on the next flight.  When the time zone is right, my prince will come.

Etiquette Correspondent Celeste Parker is an educator and author of 'Pigs Don't Wear Pearls' Bedtime Stories That Awaken Your Child to the Gem That Lies Within. Follow Celeste on Twitter @PigsDWPearls.

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