Privilege: When this white boy asked a black girl to date him in the ‘80s
In 1988, I had just turned 16, had recently started driving, and was attracted to a girl.
Well, I was attracted to several, but there was one in particular. She was relatively new to my sophomore class, and like so many new kids, she found herself testing the waters with different cliques of kids. Like me, she wasn’t exactly a nerd, nor one of the rich kids, nor in with the jocks. At first, in my youthful cluelessness, I couldn’t figure out why she didn’t seem to fit in. But there was one thing that set her apart from nearly every other student in my relatively well-to-do school in the suburbs: she was African American.
Lashanda’s race didn’t matter to me or to my immediate friends as we sat bleary-eyed in the cafeteria before school. With the exception of one Chinese pal, we were all white. Having just arrived off the school bus and waiting for First Period bell to jar me awake, my glumness at having to start yet another school day was uplifted a bit when she would wander over to my table each morning to chat. I can’t remember now what all we would talk about, but we quickly grew to be friends. Soon it wasn’t just mornings when we would get together, but during lunchtime as well, or in breaks between classes. My day always got brighter when Lashanda was around me, and the occasional day when we couldn’t find time to get together seemed gloomy. It felt like a privilege to be around her. She was gorgeous, with dark brown skin, matching eyes, a slim figure, and lips that I wanted very much to kiss but couldn’t find the courage to say so.
I was one of those studious and awkward teen boys. Short, smart, and fat, I was used to being bullied and teased by jocks, and I had a bit of social anxiety from it. I feared she would see me the same way. But at last, one spring morning after a couple months of knowing her, I summoned my courage, walked into the cafeteria, and told her how I felt about her.
Lashanda’s eyes lit up and she smiled. “I like you, too,” she said sweetly.
My heart leapt. So I took it a bit further and asked her if she would go out with me on a date. Maybe a movie? I had a car, and this would be the first time I would actually be able to take out a date myself without having to ask my mom to…