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Color Inside the Lines


OK, so I tried to duck my own personal recession and go off to graduate school because, God love me, I get to hang out with this amazing group of black females, each one model-gorgeous, smart, kind, loyal - probably the most stunning group of women I'd ever seen of one place. Yeah, it was good.

Now, in return for being seen with them, there are a few unwritten understandings. It wasn't that I couldn't date white girls, no, no, no, no. But if I did something like that, I had to be respectful - don't just spring some random white girl out of nowhere. Introduce them to everybody first. Newcomers have to respect pre-existing relationships. Cool.

In this group of friends, we all date each other first and foremost, but the dude sometimes - on the secretive, 007 down-low tip - dated on different sides of the color line. But the women said they would never ever date white guys. And when I ask them about it, they say because white guys never ask them out. (Laughter) It's unbelievable, but it makes me glad because it confirms that white guys are slow.

Now, for the black students, the social event of the season is this big African-American fall gala and I asked Astrid (ph) to go with me - she's from outside the group, from Argentina - super cool, dances the tango, she's fine - and I know everyone's going to love her. I don't worry about the racial codes or whatever because Astrid's Latin, and I figure I'm entitled to a brown pass. But then I start hearing stuff from one of my crew, Sonia (ph).

SONIA: You know, she's not let Latin-Latin, she's European-Latin. She's got the blond hair and the blue eyes. It doesn't make any sense to bring this woman to an African-American event.

WASHINGTON: Oh, really? You're a geneticist now? But Sonia's having a great time riling everybody up.

SONIA: He's taking a white girl to a black event.

WASHINGTON: And people start talking, and I wonder if I'm setting up Astrid for a bad experience. And I think, maybe I should just disinvite her. It seems ridiculous but perhaps better than the alternative. So I'm dropping off some books, late night, to the Black Student Association. I open the door, turn on the lights. And I see one of my boys, a white dude - actually from Nebraska - Brian (ph). And it takes me a moment to realize who it is scrambling off his lap - Sonia - gotcha.

I retreat from the room, laughing (laughter), and it occurs to me that everybody is getting busy with everybody else. The whites, the blacks, the Asians, the Latinos, the Indians, Samoans, Dominicans - yeah, the Dominicans - and the Indians - everybody is hooking up with everybody else, and everyone is lying about it. We're even lying to ourselves about ourselves, and today on SNAP JUDGMENT, we've got proof.

From PRX and NPR, SNAP JUDGMENT proudly presents "Sex, Lies, and Audiotape." Amazing stories from real people confronting the biggest lie they ever told - the one about themselves. My name is Glynn Washington. Please close the door behind you because you're listening to SNAP JUDGMENT. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.