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Once I’d officially been promoted to fiancée, we drove cross-country to our new home.Of course, Portland was just as amazing as he’d described; this city is full of doughnuts shaped like voodoo dolls and an air of creative enthusiasm that encourages locals to "Keep Portland Weird."There was only one detail my husband had left out.In my hometown, the guys who were genuinely attracted to me (beyond mere lust) would never admit it to their peers—they’d have been ridiculed for actually liking a black girl.So in order to feel the touch of a man in my adolescence, I played the role of a "Jezebel."I grew up black in a mostly white area, so I was accustomed to casual racism.But on the East Coast, there was so much more exposure to diversity, and I’d worked in New York for several years.Outside of working in metro areas, I had a support system of friends and family to seek refuge with when I felt like a black person engulfed by white space. Thanks to Google, I quickly discovered that we were now living in a place that is often referred to "Whitetopia." Not only is there a shortage of black people, but their lack of diversity was actually intentional, and the city has a long history of white supremacist activity.Prior to moving, I thought I had mastered the art of navigating white spaces—being surrounded by white people didn't strike me as something I’d need to prepare for.However, after I moved, I became more and more aware of strangers’ inherent biases against and irrational fear of black people. Xavier thought perhaps I was being too sensitive... People we met were never overtly racist, but they seemed to tense up once they saw me approaching them, and they’d relax once they realized I was with Xavier.
For starters, he seemed to express genuine interest in me as a person…
As the weeks passed, I slowly started to realize that I hadn’t seen any black people since we’d arrived.
Because my husband is white, the lens through which he views the world had allowed him to visit Portland and never think twice about the fact that it was such an overwhelmingly white city.
When he came back, he told tales of a magical land packed with breweries on every block and fine artisan cuisine spilling from food carts all over the city.
Then he produced an engagement ring and persuaded me to move west with him.