It's Friday night, like many a night in Milan this time of the year. We're a lively group of young people and the festivities have just begun.He moves over to walk next to me and we start to talk.
"I think Black people are beautiful," he says.
What I'm hoping he means is, "I think you're beautiful."
These types of bumbling, somewhat offensive compliments always seem to be more fun because I'm in Europe. But I know he means well, and isn't it just a bit flattering? I like to think so.
We walk down uneven Roman roads, usable even now, and pose for a group picture. The romanticism of the evening is enhanced by this group photo, as I am reminded that my ideal way to start a relationship seems to be coming true. In this world of instant gratification, I'm pleased with the pace this is going. We look at the picture, and someone thinks it's amusing that I'm harder to find than others. Ah, the classic 'Black people at night' joke. I brush it off, even laugh along at how fresh and clever this all is, but then I've reached my limit.
"Basta, dai cambiamo argomento."
"That's enough, come on let's change the topic."
Imagine my surprise then, when I find myself the center of a game, a joke on Facebook a few days later.
"Chi trova Allegra vince."
"Whoever finds Allegra wins."
This time I'm not flattered, and I am less apt to find the humor in this situation. Now, I could choose to focus on myself and explore the myriad ways in which I took offense or could have taken offense in this matter, but the teacher in me instead prefers to see this as a learning opportunity: a teachable moment, as we sometimes say. I have the opportunity to lovingly encourage others to enter into another level of sensitivity. This, my friends, is living the dream. Well, to me at least.
In all of this I am learning that I am much more comfortable with confrontation than I used to be, and that I have grown and healed a lot regarding matters of race. I'll be sure to update on how the convo went. :)