Guess Who’d Be Coming to Dinner, if I Could Bear to Subject Him to It

by Marinka on April 15, 2009

When I was a senior in high school, with a promising college career ahead of me, I had to sit my parents down at the kitchen table, and like so many girls before me, break some harsh news to them. I was going to the senior prom with a black guy. I also suspected that he was gay, but I didn’t want to overwhelm them all at once.

I was prepared for them going wall to wall ABC Afterschool Special on me, where they would become hysterical, ask themselves what they’d done wrong, forbid me, and maybe, in my wildest fantasies reveal that they were Klan members, and I, through patience and wisdom, would show them that love triumphs over skin color and invite them to join me and Jamal in a chorus of “We are the World” with a few chords from “Ebony and Ivory” thrown in for good measure. Because I anticipated that this would take a long time, I scheduled The Talk for Monday night, so that I wouldn’t have to miss any important television, like Family Ties and Dallas. (Scientists hadn’t invented the Tivo yet).
“Mama. Papa,” I started with a dramatic sigh, “Tyrik and I are going to the prom together. As you know, he is my black friend. Please do not do anything to stop us. We already reserved the limo.”
My parents surprised me. In that they didn’t require immediate medical treatment.
“Are you in the love?” mama asked.
“What? No. We are going as friends. Bi-racial friends.”
“You go with the Rashid why then?” papa asked.
“Because he was the only one who asked,” I told my parents. I mean, others may have asked, but not while I was within their earshot.
“The only one, but you have face and personality that is pleasant at times!” my lioness of a mother leaped to my defense.
“She is too tall,” papa said. “Boys scared of Amazon, Darnell basketball player, not scared.”
And that was that. No hysteria, no threats, nothing. How was I supposed to get all Rosa Parks on them if they didn’t cooperate?

One day I hope to forgive them for depriving me of this opportunity to educate them.

One year ago ...

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