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I was 19 the first time a man of colour actually expressed halfhearted interest in me; he was a biracial friend who repeatedly asked me out and then repeatedly forced me to pay for these dates.Meanwhile, throughout high school and college, the few black men I knew found my blackness as subpar to theirs.For us, that means learning about each other’s cultures.

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I could love my skin and also love Britney Spears and country music.

Blackness isn’t homogeneous, but it took me a while to see that.

But sometimes, like when I encounter a well-dressed family man with a mutual love for certain breakfast cereals, I wonder if I am failing my people.

After all, 50 years ago in many states it was still illegal for us to marry anyone who was not also black. Although race relations are still far from perfect, I acknowledge the steps toward inclusion that we’ve made.

Still, at times I feel ashamed for dating outside my race.

I am an ally to my people, but I have not connected with them in the deepest way possible — romantic love.

More important than his looks are his kind heart and gentle spirit.

I’ve gladly shared my version of black love with him.

Even when I have expressed romantic interest in black guys, it has always been a futile effort.

That was perhaps the most frustrating aspect of my well-meaning friends’ advice.

Black guys have more easily understood my gripes about my hair or institutional injustice.

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