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The email contained conditions for us working things out beginning with “you have to agree not to engage in this kind of behavior again” meaning that I would have to agree not to date black guys.
Your parents are supposed to be the only people you can count on to love you unconditionally.
The conversation quickly fizzled and I walked away knowing my pain was now his too and there was nothing I could do to fix it.
I left Aaron alone for a while both because I wasn’t sure what else to say and because if it were me, I would have wanted time and space.
And yet here he was, proposing ridiculous conditions in order for us to even be in the same room together.
The truth was that our relationship would never be the same so I thought it pointless to agree to live with racism, rules, and unhappiness just so that we could all spend Christmas together.
They had met him before through some work functions and he had attended one of my dance performances earlier that year, but this was long ago, and now we were an item. I spoke to my mom the next day and she said my dad had pretty much gone off the deep end and I needed to let him cool down. I thought he would trust my judgment and know that since I’ve only dated a handful of people that this person was special to me and would make the effort. I had no appetite, no interest in going out, being with friends, and definitely neglected my boyfriend in pretty much every possible way. I cried and cried and cried ahead of time both by myself and with friends hoping to ensure that I wouldn’t have a complete meltdown in front of Aaron.
I politely responded saying that I appreciated the explanation, but that these were not terms and conditions I was willing to live by.
As I told him about Aaron and I, the phone was silent; a pause on the other end of the line, “Is that that black kid? I was not to call him anymore, I had 2 weeks to get all of my items out of our family home, he had removed me from his will, and Christmas was cancelled. My dad wasn’t one of those crazy racist confederate flag people, right? My Dad’s birthday was in January so I decided to reach out and try to get a conversation going, even if it was awkward. All I can say is that I got through it only by the grace of God and I have no recollection of my words.
Aside from the occasional comment on the freeway my dad never said anything about race. He responded saying and there was no point in trying to correspond with him. There was a pause, followed by “I wish you wouldn’t have told me that so I would still think the world is a cool place”.
He had real questions; What kind of support will we have? What is everyone else thinking when they see us walking down the street?
How does he feel like the personification of why my Dad is not around? News reached my Dad that Aaron and I had broken up, and on the eve of my 29 birthday my Dad wrote me a lengthy email attempting to mend our relationship.