You know who was my first crush? The first time I could articulate the flutters in my heart? Zack Morris.
(Note: Since I spent a very necessary day with family, I did not have a chance to write something new. In lieu of that, I’m sharing a piece that I performed at a Sparks House event back in February. Enjoy and we’ll be back on track for day four!)
So, listen, let’s talk about representation matters. It’s such a cache phrase right now but for the uninitiated, it means that it’s important for you to be able to see yourself in other places and spaces. It allows for you to believe that you belong. That you belong in this space. That you count. Even in fantasy. Because why do White men only get to be superheroes. Or villians. Big up to T’Challa and Killmonger.
So for me, six year old me, Lisa Turtle was super important. I saw myself in her. I wanted to be her.
And there was one episode where Zach Morris wanted her. He wanted to be a part of the winning team. And I thought: oh, this is what it means to be wanted.
All of my crushes up to 7th grade were White. I was a product of my environment, okay. I was the Black girl of the neighborhood. You like what you like, man. A snack is a snack. If you cute, you cute.
Justin Timberlake was cute. And he participated in what I’ll kindly call ‘performative Blackness’. He was so immersed in Black culture, he wanted in. I mean, look at all of his leads in his videos as a solo artist: they weren’t White.
I remember when I had a poster of him next to bed. I wanted to wake up to Justin Timberlake. I needed to rest and reset in the visage of JT before I went to middle school every morning. My Dad hated it. I guess he couldn’t understand why I would be engulfed in what these “White men” were doing. So mad that I came into my room one day and the poster was gone. So I covered every wall. Take that, Pop Dukes.
But then I hid the fact that I was attracted to him. I didn’t want to be judged. I knew I would be. So thank God that B2K happened. I could put as many posters I wanted up on my wall. And from that moment, it shifted. I would never dare to put another White boy on my wall again.
We have a lot of internal conversations about interracial dating. Especially that we’re supposed to scoff at men who date outside of their race. Especially Black men. Especially by choice. He was to be hated. He was to be seen as a traitor.
Because why would this White boy want me?
But then I remember what we did in high school. You know who we fawned over? The racially ambiguous. You know? Black and something. Salute to the something.
So did we make some Black boy feel undesirable? Did we jack up his self confidence because we had these jaded and shallow perceptions of beauty? Such a vicious cycle.
Black women have always had to fight these ideas that we’re undesirable. Not wanted. That we’re only wanted within this sexual prism. That’s why the moment with Zack and Lisa has transformed for me as I age. In that moment, the one that was to never be wanted was wanted by the one that was wanted by the most.
Like there are people in this room that I’m supposed to hate because of who they date. Like, fam. I don’t care. Because, trust, if Tom Hardy walked up in here… Girl, what?!