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.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Harassment in the Red Line District (Dupont, Farragut Square)

I tell you---unseasonably warm weather brings out the worst harassers.

  • "Strange Harassment"
    Walking down Connecticut towards Dupont Circle, a guy with dreads rode by on his skateboard. He singled me out as the 1) only other Black person 2) as a person with dreads amongst the many White people in that specific block.

    "Rastafarian powerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!" he squealed, while riding by. Great. He then stops near me.
    "Have you heard of Haile Selassie?" he asked, the craziness obvious in his tone.
    "Uh, no," I said, having a brain fart. The only thing on my mind was getting home to enjoy that burger I got from Five Guys. "And right now, I don't care."
    "What?!" he said in shock. "Haile Selassie is the ultimate being of Black righteousness! The epitome of Rasta culture!"
    "Dude, just because I'm Black and have dreads does not make me a Rasta," I said.
    "Sista, you need to recognize! Embrace your Rasta-ness!"

    This guy was annoying the crap out of me. He continued to skate on, screaming nonsense at me. I told him to please stop "coonin' and buffoonin'" and to leave me alone.

    "Rasta power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" he yelled from down the street. All these stuffy, middle-aged White people had noticed this, and started mocking this guy. "We need to embrace our Rastaness!" they said. It was just an uncomfortable experience.

    I thought he was gone for good, but when I continued on I noticed he stopped to talk to a homeless man. I sneaked by behind a group of people so he wouldn't see me. I have never been embarrassed that badly in public in my life.

The rest of my harassment instances of the night were more of the typical vein, but none less disgusting or aggravating.

  • Some guy standing in front of the Starbucks at Connecticut near the circle made kissing noises and winked at me.

    "I do not like it when men make kissing noises at me," I said. "If you want to get my attention or other women's attentions, just say 'hello.'"
    "Sorry, miss!" he said, nervously. "I didn't mean to look at you!" (So who were those kissing noises meant for? Either way, it's gross!)

  • Later this evening, I walked past the Pizza Hut on M Street. Two delivery guys were sitting outside of the restaurant on their delivery bikes. One of them was checking me out! Ugh! The other guy told the ogler to leave me alone, but the ogler wouldn't stop. He said something in the lines of wanting to "get wit' dat fine thing in that leather jacket." Barf-o-rama. I didn't have the words to respond back. I gave a look in disgust and shook my head.

  • Lastly, I made it to the bus stop and was waiting for it to take me home. This clown pulls up in a black SUV. Luckily for me he was in the left lane, so he wasn't directly near me. He beeps at me and waves as if he knows me, and I'm giving a look like "what the hell?!"

    "Where are you goin'?" he asks in this whiny-sounding voice.
    "I do not know you," I said. "When strange guys I don't know try to offer me a ride, it creeps me out."
    "I seen [sic] you around," he said. Now that makes me extremely uncomfortable.
    "I do not know you, please leave me alone," I said, trying to maintain my cool. I tried to use what I learned in Martha Langelan's workshop: a) naming the behavior ("When you _________________"), b) saying how it made me feel, then c) asking what I wanted the harasser to do in the future to modify his behavior. My rendering of it wasn't perfect, but I maintained a semblance of cool. My only huge mistake is saying "please." I was supposed to use an assertive tone with a neutral voice (which I did), and words like "please" and "sorry" water it down. Next time I'll remember.

    The light turned green and the guy drove off, but his "I seen [sic] you around" still freaks me out. I can't go about my day anymore without worrying about these weird-ass guys following me and knowing my whereabouts. Reminds me of another thing I learned in Martha's workshop---never do anything routine or in a pattern. I need to change around how I get around so these men don't have a trace locked in on me. Sad it has to be that way.

So that's how I spent the rest of the night, dealing with creeps and losers.