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I’m not sure how far we were into our relationship, but that was the first moment I wondered if this was a huge mistake.To this day, I look back and question how and why I stayed.I told him that his assumption — that we were safe from shootings because we were in an all-white restaurant, that a predominantly Black restaurant would be likely to have a shooting — was shitty, ignorant, and racist. But, of course, it’s always okay for white people to be armed.When he pushed back, I pointed out that he and his friends were the ones carrying weapons. If they have a knife, it’s probably just for opening boxes.It was in one of these predominantly white spaces, a restaurant with a mostly-white clientele, that I first ran headlong into Kevin’s unrealized racism.I’d just learned that he and all his friends carried 4-inch pocket knives (or “box openers,” as they liked to call them), and I was kinda freaked out by it.We live in Atlanta, where multi-racial, multi-ethnic options are everywhere, yet when we socialized with his friends I was required to visit all-white neighborhoods, businesses, and events.Many of his friends lived in “white flight” zones, suburban areas where white people moved to avoid the “downfall” of urban areas.
I only had one friend who carried a gun, and nobody carried knives. When I pointed out that they were all carrying weapons, they laughed — didn’t I know the knives were just for opening boxes?His close friends are all white men and their spouses. While I’d gone to predominantly white schools and worked in mostly white companies, I’d never had so many white people suddenly in my intimate spaces.