It was a weird experience

Several years ago I started dating a black girl in NYC. The city is very culturally diverse, but we still attracted lots of attention as a mixed-race couple.

I’m an introvert that doesn’t like to be the center of attention. Dating a black girl in one of the world’s greatest cities meant that I became the center of attention. I wasn’t expecting that.

We met by chance in a Starbucks on 3rd Avenue. I had stopped for a coffee, but there was no free seating. Except for one table where a black girl was sitting with her bags on the chair next to her. She saw me looking around for a seat, so moved her bags and said it was ok to share the table.

We started chatting and hit it off immediately. We made a dinner date for that evening and then dated for a few weeks.

I was expecting that we’d blend in easily. Oh boy, was I wrong!

The next day we went for a walk around Lower East Side. We stopped to sit down at some seats outside two basketball courts. One court was being used by 8 white me playing football. The entrance to the courts was on the opposite side of where we were sitting.

After a few minutes, 3 black guys arrived to practice some basketball. They walked right through the middle of the court where the other guys were playing football (soccer as you Americans call it). They kicked their ball away and walked slowly through the court, almost taunting them. The white guys ignored them.

Then came that part that shocked me, and frightened me a little. The black guys were about 10 meters from us and chatting with each other. They started talking about how too many white guys were “stealing their women” and that something needed to be done about it. Maybe they need to be beaten up to teach them a lesson, one of them suggested.

I was glad that the entrance to the court was not on the side we were sitting. It helped me feel a little safer.

Even though they were close to us, I didn’t think they had noticed as, as we were slightly hidden outside the court. But it felt like they were talking about me. My girlfriend looked slightly alarmed as well and suggested we leave. We got up and walked away. Maybe they hadn’t seen as and had been talking generally. It still didn’t make me feel great though.

Later that day we were walking in the East Village and saw 4 black guys ahead of us. They were guys with huge muscles. They looked a bit scary to me, especially after the earlier encounter. At the time they were exercising on some street furniture. When they saw us, they all stopped and looked at us.

I should point out that as well as being a mixed-race couple, I’m pretty slender, while my girlfriend was pretty large in comparison. I guess we looked like an odd couple in many ways.

As we got near the guys, the largest one, with the biggest muscles, gave a thumbs up. He said… I like it. You two look great together. The others nodded in agreement. We exchanged some chat and went along our way.

I was shocked for a second time that day. This time I wasn’t expecting such positive vibes.

We walked back up to 3rd Avenue to just across the road from where we’d met. There was a great restaurant there, so we stopped for a bit to eat.

The waitress came and took our order. When she brought the food back she said… you two look cute together.

As an introvert, I always try not to stand out too much. But here it was almost impossible to blend it.

I was now feeling better about the situation though. The first set of guys were probably just a bunch of idiots. You get them everywhere. Everyone else seemed pretty supportive. It seemed like they actually liked seeing a mixed-race couple.

There was still something a little odd about it though. If I’d been with a white girl, probably no one would have mentioned it. But being mixed race we stood out. That almost forced people to have an opinion about it.

We had a few similar comments over the next few weeks, all positive.

Unfortunately, my time in NYC came to an end. The distance between the UK and US was just too great for a long-distance relationship.

We still stay in touch and are just friends these days. We’re both married, although not to each other.