Please note. . .

Don't Be Silent DC has been inactive since March 2008 and has not been accepting entries since. If you are in the DC area and have a harassment story to share, please go to HollaBack DC. If you are outside the DC area and want to submit your story, go to Stop Street Harassment. Thank you.

As of 3/1/08, I will no longer be working on this blog. Please read this post for more details.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Intraracial Tension

I was originally going to publish this Thursday (the day of the incidents), but I typed it, deleted it, typed it, deleted it---but now I have the courage to put it out there.

Forgive me for going beyond the scope of street harassment today. I have typed and deleted the following quite a few times. I have wanted to be politically correct about it, but for once, I cannot. Everyone expects me to always do the right thing and to be infallible. They ask me questions about harassment and I tell them that I'm no expert and am in the same boat as they are. I am not perfect, I don't always make the right decisions. I may lose readers and supporters, but I must get my feelings off my chest. So here goes:

As a Black female, I am angry, hurt, disgusted, and frustrated with the way I've been treated by Black men in the District. As many decent Black men as there are, they get overshadowed by the ones who act like harassing assholes. The vitriol is simply disgusting. I deal with nonsense from harassers of all races, but I feel Black men aim for the jugular with me because we're the same race. I feel as if I'm hated by the men of my own race, simply for demanding them to treat me with respect.

I had a long, rough day at work today. I left feeling worn out and burned out, and was going to get some takeout from this Chinese restaurant in Dupont I've been going to lately to uplift my mood. I'm a fast walker, and when I catch up to people on the street I need to get around them so I can keep on going. I was attempting to get around a group of five guys, but this one guy would not stop walking on a diagonal and into my path.

"Hey!" I said. "Behind you!"
The guy turns around and try as I might to get around him we collide.
"Why didn't you walk to the side to get around?" he said, copping attitude with me.
"I was trying to!" I snapped back. Hard to do so when you're taking up a chunk of the path by walking on a diagonal.
"Why you gettin' like that?" he said.

I wanted to get away from these men, but they started clowning on me and thought the whole ordeal was funny.
"She mad 'cuz she alone! She wouldn't be so mad if she had a man!" the one yelled. Laughter ensued. "If I had a beard I'd shave it off and give it to you so you can have some real hair!" (???)
"You're a bunch of no-class, no manner-having, tacky, ghetto, ignorant Negroes!" I yelled. It'd been said and can't be undone.

In turn I was called a "self-hater."

"Why you got dreads?" the one who collided with me said.
"I know where I came from and don't need to act like a tacky Negro," I said.
"You may hate Black people but we love you!" they started saying in a taunting, sing-songy tone.
"I can't stand you...leave me alone!"
"You're sexy, we still love you, you're sexy..."

The one who collided into me kept yelling things at me. They kept walking towards me. I wanted to hit him so badly, but I had to restrain myself. My safety is jeopardized already, I cannot make it worse, and I'm not trying to go to jail for these sorry people.
"Why you keep comin' up on me?" he said.
"Keep on walking!" I yelled. "Go away! If you don't go away I'll call the police."

The one guy in the group who looked like a bum kept trying to approach me. I kept backing up.

"Sorry, my friend ain't mean nothin' by it," he said. I didn't believe him because they were all still laughing and giving me shit.
"Go away or I will call the police," I said.

These men kept walking, but they stayed in the vicinity. The one I collided with had the nerve to get indignant after all that was said and done. Because they weren't going anywhere, I turned back and took a different path to get to the restaurant, looking over my shoulder to make sure they weren't following me.

I got my food and was on a train home. I didn't want to have anymore run-ins. I normally take my headphones off after getting off the train in the evening, but I was tense and music was the only thing to calm me. I did keep the volume low enough so I could hear the street noise and was on guard.

I thought it was going to be a safe walk home, until I got close to where the "Loitering Losers" usually hang out. There were about 10 men hanging out in front of a liquor store across the street, and three on my side. Shit, I'm outnumbered.

A man coming near me tried to go "Hey, girl, whaddup?" and I tried to use the fact that I was wearing headphones to ignore him.
"Why you ain't talkin? Oh, you listenin' to headphones!"


The Thompson Twins song I was listening to couldn't tune out the sounds of ten screaming drunk-ass men.

"Shut the hell up and leave me alone! Do something with your sorry asses!"

"SHORTAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!" turned into "Fuck yourself, ugly bitch. You ain't shit anyway."

I snapped. "You sorry-ass, no-good, ain't doin' shit with yourselves drunk-ass losers! You are the sorriest people! Nothin' going on with your lives except standing on a street corner getting drunk and yelling like idiots! You're tacky, uneducated, not going to be anything except passed out dead on the street because you're getting drunk!"

They thought this was funny. Steam was rising through my ears. And in all this I noticed a little kid out there with them and a female. Those punks were teaching him how to disrespect women, and this chick standing there with them apparently has no respect for herself either. I'm sure if clowns were heckling her she'd get loud like I did too. But seeing that little boy---dear. I hate cursing around kids. I should've been upright so he'd have some positive example to see, but the damage had been done.

The men on my side of the street were just as bad. Laughing at the whole ordeal then having the nerve to try to talk to me. I didn't want to be bothered.

"Don't talk to me either!" I said. "I am tired of you sorry-ass people!"
"Girl, we ain't mean nothin' by it," one of them, with gold teeth in his mouth, said. "We always tryin' to talk to you when you walk by---"
"I don't want to talk to you! I don't want to get to know you! I am not trying to talk to you when I walk by...I'm trying to get home!"

The light finally changed and I walked swiftly to cross the street. These men were still trying to talk to me.

"Talk to someone who cares because I'm not trying to listen anymore!" I said.
"Have a nice day, sistah!"
"Go to the library and take out some books and educate yourselves," I yelled. "Leave women alone."

I barely made it home in one piece. My legs were like Jello and I nearly collapsed when I got inside. I felt lightheaded and nauseous. I lost my appetite for the Chinese food I'd been craving all day.

Self-hater. As I said earlier, I've had run-ins with stupid men of all races, but when it happens with Black men they attack where it hurts the most. I'm tired of being accused of being a self-hating racist because I don't tolerate stupid behavior. I'm tired of being questioned as to why I have dreads (dammit, it's hair! Why does it have to be about Black pride?), I'm tired of being made fun of for how I speak, I'm tired of this intraracial bullshit. People who know me know I'm proud to be Black and the first one to defend my race. But today I'm worn out, beaten and defeated. I just want to crawl into a hole and die.

Too many of these misguided men think acting like a "triflin' Negro" is what it means to be a Black man. Acting like a common, harassing thug is not being a stand-up Black man. A real Black man doesn't degrade Black women, won't intimidate them, won't refer to them as "shorty" and "bitch." There is a lot of racial tension and intraracial tension in DC and I'm feeling the brunt of it.

There is no happy cookie-cutter answer to this. Do I wish I acted differently today? Of course, but all I can do is learn from it and move on. I wish I had a thicker skin so I could ignore the taunts instead of stooping to these punks' levels, but the hurtful comments I continue to receive from these scrubs on the streets eat through me like a caustic acid.

I know I have to put my safety first. I can't walk home anymore because it's getting too dangerous. I'm going to have to wait lord knows how long for a bus at the train station (though walking is quicker than waiting). Your "fearless" leader is now fearful. I've taken too much abuse and I can't take anymore. I'm tired of worrying about the "Loitering Losers" and now the "Liquoring Losers."

I'm going to rest now, and hopefully it's a new day not only literally, but figuratively. It's gotta get day.


Kandy said...

I am black myself and I must say that what you're saying is the truth. It is not racist at all. It seems as if our own men are the most disrespectful to us but if a white person does something to a person of color, the black community wants to call in Sharpton and get the person fired. Never mind what Imus said was no where near as bad as the things I have seen black men say to black women on the streets. You said you may lose readers but the truth has to come out. Perhaps the readers you lose will come crawling back after they've walked a mile in your shoes.

CHIC NOIR said...

You have not lost me. This pst was 100% truth!