Monday, December 29, 2008

Black Women Walking

A few days ago KB and I were talking and he asked "how often do guys hit on you". Without so much as a second thought, I replied "every single day". The surprise on his face called for further explanation. My response?

"I am very shapely. It has nothing to do with my beauty, my smile or anything I could actually consider an attribute. It is my body. No matter how how pissed I look, how tired or exhausted I am, whether I am dressed professionally, in Uggs and jeans, or a burlap sack...they look at me and think sex. That is it. So it is hardly flattering."

He sighed. I sighed. Nothing more was said.

On a daily basis, I am inspected by the men I come into contact with. In the same way that a food is checked for quality assurance, myself and millions of other black women, are dissected by the men we walk by. There is always a feeling of being scrutinized. We are judged by some misogynistic criteria, after which we are catcalled. Every single day.

On one particular day, in 1998, 16 year old Adailah Gaither was gunned down at a bus stop for refusing to give a young man her phone number.


Let that soak in for a moment.

For refusing to give a young man her phone number. While nothing I have gone through equates such a tragic end to her young life, the thought has crossed my mind. I have wondered if saying something in my own defense would lead to some sort of violence on more than one occasion.

But my experience is my own. And the next woman may feel very differently. Which is why I was surprised that this young girl's death has inspired a documentary. In the film, Black Women Walking, several ladies detail their experiences being harassed by black men in passing.

Upon hearing about the video, my initial reaction was..."ok??" How could a documentary define this phenomenon? I wasn't sure that this was something that needed extensive exploration. I've talked about my own experience in a post or two, but the magnitude of the problem was lost on me until watching a youtube snippet.

What really hit home for me was the young woman who said "Anytime I pass by a black dude, or a big group of them, I expect something to be said. And sometimes I am actually surprised when they don't say anything at all."

Her words were so simple, but when she spoke them I realized that it really isn't about how shapely you are. It has nothing to do with weight, complexion, height, or any of our vast differences. It is a scrutiny that knows no preference...other than female. How many of us are going through this daily?

1 comment:

RunningMom said...

That was a FANTASTIC documentory. Thanks for sharing!