Basically, I grew up with a pretty privileged lifestyle, especially for a black girl. My parents aren't rich by any means, but we always had what we wanted. I went to Catholic school as a child, a ritzy private summer camp, and we always had yearly vacations. My parents never really said no. I mean, if we wanted something, my parents would work hard to get it. They didn't spoil us - we weren't allowed anything outrageous, nor did we ask for anything like that - and they made sure we knew that we had the things we had because my father busted his ass 7 days a week working overtime. But, it was still a lot of privilege. I never really grew up around people who didn't have some kind of money. While none of my friends are crazy wealthy or anything compared to some of the kids we went to school with, if you compare our families to people in the rest of the country, we're all doing pretty well for ourselves.
I live in a biracial family (black mom, light-skinned Puerto Rican dad) although I'm not biracial (well, at least as far as I know - I'm adopted, but I've been told by several people - including the Intellectual that if I told them that I was half black/half hispanic, they'd believe me). Race has always been an odd things for me. I live in a family where races have mixed and my dad and mom look nothing like each other and nothing like me. When I was a kid, we lived in a predominately black neighborhood where I was teased mercilessly by kids over my "white father." For some reason, having a parent that isn't black is like the kiss of death in the black community. It takes away your street cred. Add that to the fact that I was a dorky, nerdy girl who read a lot, watched Jeopardy for fun, and my whole wardrobe was from the Gap, and you could tell I was going to get teased. Most of my life other black people (with a few exceptions) shunned me. In America, you're told if you're black and you're smart and get good grades and stay out of trouble, that you're "acting white." Well, let me just say this - I'd rather be "acting white" at an Ivy League university than "acting black" in jail.
Basically, after years of the teasing, the shunning, the discomfort, I just sort of gave up. I tried my hardest to integrate myself into the community and I've pretty much failed at every turn. Instead I've tended to make friends with other black women who've had the same shit happen to them. I love the black community, I love the way I was raised, I love the heritage and the traditions, but I can't deal with the bullshit. And so I've tended to surround myself with kids like me - other bourgie black kids who value education and have goals and dreams and ambitions and don't tease me because I use proper English.
As far as black men are concerned, I am so awkward around them. I get really nervous because I remember all the kids who teased me in my youth. Also, I don't really interact with black men on a regular basis. Most black women interact with a black man every day of the week - their father. My father isn't black, doesn't really have any black friends, and so the only black men I see are my younger brothers, two of whom are mixed race. I never grew up around black men and so in some ways I'm afraid we won't connect. In my fantasies, my ideal man is always black, because I think that black love is beautiful and I feel more comfortable physically with black men, who tend to appreciate my body type and features. But, I end up dating white men because they're more readily available in the circles I run in, they approach me, and they seem to accept me for who I am as a person. I'd love to fall in love with a wonderful black man who's educated, intelligent, and has an amazing sense of humor. But the statistics don't seem to pan out in my favor. Black women are the least likely group to get married in our society. In 2001, 41.9% of black women have never been married. That's scary. That's really fucking scary. So when I complain that I will always be alone and never get married, it's not just paranoia, it's logic and statistics.
I don't know. Race is such a complicated thing. It never really goes away. I probably haven't done this topic justice, but I wanted to put some things out there.