I was four mimosas in when Malik decided to give us his take on black women being “hoes.” He stood up from his chair and slammed one of Savannah’s stemless wine glasses down on her dining room table. Loud enough to quiet the drunken dissent around us; commandeering enough to capture everyone’s attention; obnoxious enough to make my shimmery eyes roll.
“All I’m saying is!” he shouted, as if he were Moses delivering commandments from Mount Sinai, “we need to hold our black women to higher standards! I know I ain’t marrying nobody who been bustin’ it open out here!”
A few of the women threw their hands up and collapsed hopelessly into each other. Some of the guys burst into trios of head shakes and laughter. Malik basked in the glory of all the attention.
“Well what if a woman just wants to explore her sexuality?” one of Savannah’s other friend’s asked, sweetly and innocently taking the bait. A precious little lamb being led to the slaughter. The whole room seemed to hold its breath in anticipation of his response as I took another sip of my pear mimosa — studying the sense of hope all over this poor girl’s face.
I, too, had been hopeful once about the possibility of converting a non-believer to the light. Of showing a card-carrying member of the Black Patriarchy that my views on black women’s sexuality were based simply on freedom, love and personal autonomy, then watching hearts and minds transform before my eyes. “Who knows,” I used to think. “Maybe one day the two of us will get a kick out of how hopelessly misogynistic he once was.” I wanted so badly for this little lamb to snooze safely inside her dream.
“I don’t give a fuck if she’s Marco Polo,” he said. “Ain’t no exploring bi-, women, welcome over here! ”
The room burst into a fit of commotion, and I totally understood why. I mean, come on, were they not entertained? This coon ass nigga would provide fodder for the group text for days. It’s not like there was some vast historical precedent of literally everyone trying to control black women without any repercussions, right? They’d probably think about it on the drive home from work the next day, and have a good hearty laugh to themselves about it. Ha. Ha. Ha ha ha. Oh, Malik, what a ham.
But for me? Myself? When it came to black women, I personally was not with the shits. Even less so when the shit was coming from a black man. And don’t let your girl be gone off the fruit juice and Andre.
I gathered my phone and my clutch and my pear mimosa, giving polite “excuse me’s” as I stepped over legs wrapped in chic textured tights; smiled and waved at no one in particular; suddenly dying to catch up with folks on the other side of the room. Almost as if, in that moment, there were nice feelings inside me. As if there were anything but flames dancing under my skin.
My eyes landed on Sav’s as I moved through the maze of furniture, guests and fuck boys that lined her and Devin’s living room. She was busy Phylicia Rashad-ing in the breakfast room of their brand new house — bantering in French with a guest someone brought from Côte d’Ivoire and setting out a new charcuterie board — while keeping an ear to what was going on in the living room. You wouldn’t be able to tell from watching her, but I could tell that she wanted to fight that nigga too.