Recently, a video documenting one woman being harassed on the street by various men in New York went viral and sparked numerous discussions on news channels and talk shows. While I am glad that this discussion is being had, my concern that once again , black women are left out of the discussion and it annoys me that the only time these serious situations that endanger women spark “concern” is when it happens to white women.
Black women have talked about being street harassed for years and there are numerous articles I have located on line that attest to this fact, but their voices on the matter went un heard. While it is very obvious to anyone who watched the video that the unwanted attention unnerved the woman and I certainly do not discount how uncomfortable she must have felt documenting her ordeal, but she is still fortunate that she and I would say MOST white women have never had to experience the level of street harassment and assault that black women have had to endure at the hands of men ESPECIALLY black men almost from the time they hit puberty.
If you look at the video, (although they edited out the white men, but that is another post all together) the black and latino men who tried to get her attention kept their distance to some degree, but they never tried to physically touch her and none of them called her names when she ignored them. Most black women are not so lucky. Not only have they been called names, some have been assaulted and even murdered for not entertaining the unwanted attention of black men, one black woman was recently shot and killed by a man in a club because she refused his advances though she explained to him she was seeing someone (she was engaged to be married). She was a mother of 3 killed by a man who felt entitled to her company even though she was engaged to someone else.
Another story I read and saw the graphic photos of was that of a young woman in the carribean who had refused the marriage proposal of a local man and he retaliated by hunting her down at the bus stop and decapitating her with a machete in broad daylight and parading her head around like a trophy before he tossed it on the ground establishing the fact that this is not just an American problem. Now of course this is not all black men but this entitled behavior is more common than not and it is dangerous. I reached out to my friends and colleagues to share their stories of street harassment and the number one comment they made that proceeded the story they shared was, “there are too many stories to count.” WOW they had so many stories that they had probably lost count and that is very sad to report they had to put that disclaimer before they shared the following:
Once I was walking to the store. These bm were on their porch, and because I didn’t speak while walking past, one of them yells “fine, fuck you then bitch you can’t even speak!” Um, you didn’t even speak to me… I’m obligated to speak to every person I see, even in this bad neighborhood? Okay. I was lucky they didn’t try to do more than that and lucky I was really close to the store when it happened. – J.
Twelve years ago in Manhattan I applied for a job at Diesel, the black doorman said ‘Hello’ to me and I didn’t look at him or say ‘Hello’ back and he said ‘F*** you then’ . I was waiting for the manager an Asian lady to finish up with these Asian tourists who were taking forever because I wanted to hand the application back to her and while that happened one young BM employee rubbed up his arm and shoulder against my arm and shoulder and then another young BM employee just laughed and laughed at me. I felt so violated. I was so upset and this was all because so many BM always feel entitled to BW’s attention, time, money, sex, everything. I left the place and cried later on I remember. Their ways sadly have made me feel very unsafe and have marked my life– D.
…I did worry that the guy from the last encounter would look up my car license plate which is personalized and try to track me down.– L
Sadly so many to choose from. When I took the transit to work for 5 years it was almost a daily occurrence. I would be dressed in a business suit and BM thought it was cool to ask for my number or money. I would ignore them. Some would pull my earbuds out and curse at me, other would just curse at me. One time my husband and son got on the same train while coming back home from a baseball game. I was seated with a BM standing up next to me. He kept turning his crotch towards the side of my face. When I told him there were free seats available, he smiled and said he knew but thought I liked what I was seeing. I gave him a look and turned my head. He called me a stupid yellow bitch. Thought I was special because I had a job. My husband steeped up on him and ended up catching an assault charge over it. After he threw the guy off at the next stop he dressed down the so called men that saw all of it go down. The assault charge was dropped when we went to court.– C.
One night I was out and as I went into a bar, some BM I didn’t know was speaking to me but I didn’t know it. I didn’t know him so I had no reason to think he was talking about or to me. When I left, he said something else and I turned around and asked him if he was talking to me. He said he was. I was like who the f*** are you? I don’t know you. He said he knew me and I said good and started to walk away and he started in on me.
Y’all, I really am not the one. My mouth is a registered lethal weapon in 3 states. I’m one of those don’t start none, won’t be none.-B.
My mother told me to always make sure I acknowledge when a black man speaks to me so that I do not risk the chance of being beat up by one of them because I ignored them.. –Britt
When I was younger and walking home from school, some men were catcalling me. When I ignored them, they threw rotten eggs at me, two hit me on my school skirt. I was also travelling home a time and when I ignored the catcaller when the maxi taxi stopped at the corner where they were, they cussed me and called me a Lesbian. One of my students had a piece of iron thrown at her. Several were threatened, myself included. It seems to be DBR BM-ism EVERYWHERE.-C.A.
I was at a bus stop as a young teenage girl when some black guys pulled up in a car and one of them said hi to me.Though I am shy and soft spoken, I said hi back but he must not have heard me because he screamed at me “BITCH, I SAID HI TO YOU, YOU CAN’T SPEAK?” it scared me. Thankfully the light turned green and they drove off because he was about to get out of the car and come at me. -Anonymous
There was a BMW project manager who kissed me in public while we were working. Also, I was accosted by two other BM at that VA hospital with one literally touching my a**. Another called himself putting me in my place because he had spoken to me several times and I refused to acknowledge him. I declined three jobs at that VA because I didn’t feel safe.– C.B.
There were plenty more stories and if I posted them all here, there would be a book or two. I let these women speak for themselves so that those who want to believe that the street harassment of black women is exaggerated, will be forced to realize that it is not and these are the tame stories! I am of the belief that the street harassment assault and sometimes murder of black women is more brutal than their white and non-black counterparts is because black men and many men of other races know that black women have no one to protect them so the feel free to say and do to black women whatever they please. These men know when it comes to women of other races ESPECIALLY white women that there will be hell to pay if they DARE escalate the harassment that will result in her physical harm. Black women need the same protective measures taken on their behalf and it needs to start when they are very young. I have had my share of street harassment, but have never been more afraid than when I have been confronted by entitled black men who have threatened me and called me names when I refused their advances. While white women do have their share of harassment, the dialogue on the subject is always re-directed to focus on them and this has to STOP! But how? Because it is not just about them but every woman who experiences the brutal reality of street harassment. Otherwise the lens we see it through will always be distorted and the message compromised.