“I always see it. That surprised face. That face that says, ‘Oh shit! My daughter did not bring home a black guy.”
This is one of the first lines his Harris’s poem ‘Black Boyfriend,’ performed at the 2015 Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam in June. The line describes the moment of meeting the fathers of past white girlfriends — and the visible surprise and disappointment.
Harris, a Yale University student, goes on to break down the prejudices he faces when dating interracially in the performance, posted by Button Poetry on Aug. 2.
“To the fathers of too many of the women that I’ve dated,” Harris begins, “The day I meet you, I always straighten my tie. I use the biggest words I know. I break out the good shoes. So you can see them before you see past them.”
For Harris, no matter how respectable he tries to be, he’s still viewed as a bad influence of “just a phase.” The poem rejects this notion, arguing that outdated ideas about interracial dating must end if America can ever truly live up to the idea of being a “melting pot” of racial equality.
In the last line of the poem Harris tells disapproving fathers to “Wake up,” powerfully adding:
“If I am your worst nightmare, you need to figure out what the f**k is wrong with your dreams.”
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