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Nick This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


ick is a 6Ɖ", handsome, muscular guy with brown hair, brown eyes and a confidence-building comment always on the tip of his tongue. He’s the type who would go up to an 80-year-old woman and tell her she has great legs. He sweet-talks everyone.

We met at a conference and hit it off immediately. His charm was infectious and soon I had Nick fever. We spent the whole two-day conference together. When I arrived at dinner, I found him standing by my chair, waiting to pull it out. That same night he pulled me onto the dance floor and taught me how to dance. The next day he proposed and offered his favorite ring. We pretended to be married the whole day and walked everywhere arm in arm.

Nick was the first guy I could have really fallen in love with. Every time he walked in the room I couldn’t help but grin. It was insane, overpowering and fun. After a great day he walked me to my room and gave me the sweetest kiss on the cheek. The world started spinning, my heart started pounding and nothing was more important than that moment. Then he asked if he could take me to my prom. He said he’d rent a white tux, a limousine and make dinner reservations. It sounded like my fantasy prom with a handsome prince.

The next day I was in a dream world, constantly thinking about him. I hadn’t said yes to his invitation but had promised I would tell him the next week. I arrived home still floating. I couldn’t wait to tell my family about my new love interest and date for the prom.

Then it hit me. My bubble of love popped. Nick, my prince, is black. I knew my parents wouldn’t approve and my grandparents would have had me dragged into the street and beaten. I am an upper-middle class, white girl from the suburbs whose grandfather once told her that the most disgusting thing in the world is interracial relationships. He said that I was never, under any circumstances, to date a black guy. These are the words of a man brought up in a segregated America, but they lingered. I’m in love, I thought. What does it matter that he’s black?

Reality struck me right in the gut, screaming, “What will other people think? What happens when you show up at a white, private school’s prom with a handsome black guy at your side? How will you tell your grandparents?” They would want to see lots of pictures; how would they feel to see photographs of their perfectly raised and overprotected granddaughter smiling next to a black guy?

Not only did I start to question others’ feelings, but my own as well. Was I feeling something I shouldn’t? Was I doing something terrible? I decided that if I had doubts it must not be true love. That’s the excuse I used, repeating it to myself every time I thought of Nick, to make myself believe it. In my heart I knew it would be too hard to love him. I told him I had decided not to go to the prom and that I was really sorry. I think we both knew it was because of race. When I told him, my heart sank; I hung up and cried. I was angry and frustrated for allowing others and parts of myself that I don’t like to overwhelm me.

I went to the prom with a perfectly nice, well-raised, wealthy, white young man whom I forced myself to like for the purpose of justifying going to the prom. Nick and I have never gone back to the way we were at the conference. We smile and give each other a hug when we see each other, but even then I wonder if my mother, standing across the room, is watching and questioning me.

I hate myself for allowing race to dictate our relationship. Race is a subtext in my life that will always be there. I, like everyone else, keep my racism tucked away in the back of my heart where it keeps me in check. I’ve tried to suppress it, I’ve tried to ignore it, I’ve tried to purge myself of it by telling myself how wrong it is, but I am not immune to it. It may have stopped this princess from being with her prince, but it also taught me a valuable lesson. When you take the “race” out of “human race,” you’re left with humans.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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TheEarlofZercesThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Nov. 5, 2011 at 2:59 pm:
If you're looking for sympathy, oh Narrator, you're not going to get it from me. What you did was cowardly, and I hope you regret it for the rest of your life. So yeah, I thought it was a great piece. Good job.
 
beautifulspirit This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 16, 2012 at 7:49 am :
You know, it took guts to write this piece. Yes, this writer admittedly made a mistake---but then again, we are all human. She is not a coward, but the complete opposite. How dare you insult her! I don't believe she is looking for sympathy, this was her story and it is a real thing that happens in life. '"Race is a subtext...that will always be there."' It's true, no matter how much we deny or try to ignore it. This piece was deeply personal, and I liked reading it. So sincerely, good job from m... (more »)
 
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