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Black History Month: Get your swirl on but be mindful of distinct flavors

Illustration by: Ninette Solis | Staff Illustrator

Ah, love. So light, airy and free—except when it is not. Love can be treacherous and soul-crushingly damaging, yet people love to be in love. Finding that someone special produces the heart flutters like no other sensation—or so I’ve heard.

Love is great—all kinds of it. Romantic love, familial love, love between friends, food love—it is all marvelous to me. There is nothing like meeting someone so amazingly perfect for you, when the question is begged, “Were we carved from the same mold?”

But love is difficult in and of itself. Once interracial dating is added to the equation, you may find yourself in a very rocky love boat.

As an African-American woman in, well, America, I will have experiences that members of other races will not encounter. There will be emotions and feelings that cannot always be expressed but are understood by every member of my community.

This is not to say that other races will not be able to understand, or sympathize with our struggles, but instead suggests sometimes it takes more than sympathy. For example, a dolphin swims with its dorsal fins and flippers. Humans swim with their arms and legs. Sure, a human knows what it feels like to swim, but we do not know what if feels like to swim with dorsal fins and flippers—appendages that have been there since birth.

We can imagine it, but we won’t ever quite understand it. And that’s the point.

The same can be said for growing up as an African-American in the United States. I did not grow up as a white woman or an Asian man, so I do not know what it feels like to experience shared events as that race or sex.

My experience growing up as an African-American girl in the southern United States is unique. And naturally there are going to be experiences and realities someone outside of my demographic would not be familiar with.

Now, this is not to discourage interracial dating because the swirl is beautiful. It is important to keep in mind, however, that our experiences are not the same. With this base understanding in any relationship—whether it be interracial, heterosexual or foodsexual—nothing will be able to tear love apart.

The differences between cultures are what make America such an amazing and beautiful country. Instead of abiding by the typical “we are all the same” ideology, it would be more beneficial to recognize and celebrate our differences. Diversity is a wonderful thing, and is it not much better to be two halves of a whole instead of the exact same pieces?

Whether it’s brown sugar, warm vanilla or some other blended love going down, cherish the affection for what it is. If you don’t understand the complexity and beauty of my hair or the cocoa-buttered brilliance of my melanin complexion, it’s OK.

So, if anyone is looking, I know an opinionated, beanie-loving, super-cute columnist who is single. Holla at your girl.