I didn’t want this post to be about my fear of Black people.
Because if word gets out that I’m scared of Black people, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West will call and ask me to come on The Smiley & West Show on PRI so they can talk to me about internalized racism (which is what happens when you eat a tiny White man in West Virginia), and I will tell them I don’t even live in WEST Virginia, so how could I have eaten him, and, furthermore, how could I possibly hate myself? But Smiley and West are like the Ben & Jerry’s of Blackness ‘cept Blacks don’t live in Vermont and those who do are lactose intolerant, so if they say you ate a white man, you ate him. And there will be so much backlash from my radio interview that I’ll have to appear as an extra in a Tyler Perry film, but that won’t fix anything. Then somehow Touré will get in the middle of things and tweet about me, so then Piers Morgan will be all, “I wanna bloody meet this girl,” and my face will be all over CNN, and I’ll just be sitting there, all postpartum like, looking drab compared to Anderson Cooper’s baby blue–
OMG, I’ve done it.
You see, folks often compliment Elie Mae on her eyes, and I think that’s swell. I mean, really nice. I don’t mind a compliment from a stranger.
But I do mind strange compliments. From Black folk. Who scare me.
So this blog is about my fear of (a couple) Black people. And now I’ll have to be an extra in Tyler Perry’s I Can’t Figure Out for the Life of Me Why I Married Your Black Behind: Fine, Call Your Mother, I Don’t Care.
Here’s why: So Elie and I are in Whole Foods, and this Black woman says, “Those are the brightest eyes I’ve seen in a long time.” Nice, right? But then she leans in and adds, “Well, since my birth.”
Whaaaat?! Are you saying your eyes were light and your hair relaxed at birth, or are you saying your mama’s doula had blue eyes?
And just like that, she has invited Elie into some secret sisterhood, where everyone’s eyes turn into purple diamonds after dark. And they sing Vanessa Williams songs around a campfire.
I wish that this were the only offense.
But another day, Elie and I were in Starbucks. It started out nicely. The middle-aged Black woman saw Elie and said, “Look at those eyes!” But then she got right in my face–like I could feel her forehead breathe–and realized that I didn’t have hazel eyes. Then the secret sorority thing: “I had light eyes,” she said. “Actually, mine were lighter than hers.”
Great? How is your second toe? Got any freckles? Strange moles I should know about?
She continued. “But then when I turned 17, they got dark.”
Whaaaaa…? Get me outa here. Is this some kind of voodoo? What do you mean your eyes went dark? Is that a metaphor about your soul?
Did they ban The Bluest Eye in Charlottesville or something? What is going on here, my people?!