Safety

I hope to God that in four years, we will be coming out of this nightmare, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m back here because I don’t want to be silent. As I start to speak up again, it may be halting and loose at first. I’ll describe clumsy circles that trace back over things that people have already been saying everywhere else all over the internet. But I have a responsibility now to have a voice and to use it. This is just the tip of the iceberg of my new responsibilities. Like parenthood when it’s new, the responsibility I feel now is frightening, all-encompassing. But the love I feel for our rights, my family, and the people of my city is also heightened.

I’m not wearing a safety pin. So far, I have only seen that in Facebook profile pictures, and not in real life. I hope that if I see bullying and cruelty, I will do the right thing. I have a decent track record with that.

Several years ago, a bus full of white collar white commuters gaped like stupid fish in my direction as I drew four young men away from a woman who looked like she was trying to disappear into herself. She was smaller and younger than I was, and they had her surrounded, were calling her racial and sexual slurs. After I told them to leave her alone, they spent my whole bus ride harassing me, touching me, poking me, jeering at me, draping their arms over me, and flicking (wrapped) condoms at my face and eyes. The white people on the bus just watched. They saw everything while they acted like they couldn’t see anything.

The young men were black, and the woman was Asian. Did the white people think, it wasn’t their (our) business? Are young black men such boogeymen to them that they are afraid of them? They think they are all serious criminals with guns? They can’t just see them as young people who are behaving badly? I was angrier at the older white people than I was at the young men. None of them had my back. They were cowards.

After several stops of trying to tough it out, I went up to the front and told the white male bus driver that there were men in the back harassing women. He said, “What do you want me to do?” I got off the bus at the next stop. The guys got off the bus behind me, laughing. I hurried up the block and hid in the back of a store. I texted a friend. He said, “If that happened in SOUTH Seattle instead of North Seattle, an older black person would have intervened and straightened them out. That is some white bullshit.”

So let’s at least get over our white bullshit, Seattle. And that also means we get out and march with Black Live Matters like we should’ve done all along.

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