Program Success Fall 2018 - Page 11

Program Success 11 Fall 2018 This Is How a Black Woman Unravels By Temi Oni Guest Columnist I walk a lot. I have a car, but sometimes, it’s nice to be able to look around you and see what’s out there. I lived in New York City for about four years, so walking is no big deal. Cat-calling is no big deal. I was walking, today, in the Baltimore Inner Harbor. It was broad daylight. 2 p.m., or so. I was minding my business—I’m always minding my business. I saw a boy—couldn’t have been more than 17—walking alongside me, but it really isn’t a big deal. I call him a boy, because I’m almost 30, and anyone who is less than 25 I equate to be the same as my little brother; He’s 21 and to me, he’s still a kid. A kid walking beside me isn’t a big deal because I’m used to being spoken to, or flirted with. I don’t like it, but I’m used to it. I’m polite (if they are). I decline. I keep it movin’. Whatever. I have my headphones in. The Carters are playing and I hear this kid saying something to me. I think I hear him, but I’m not sure. My music is kinda loud, kinda not. He says, “Do you suck d—k?” Nah, he can’t be talking to me. I keep listening to my music. Walking. He’s closer now. I lower the volume. He’s closer. He’s testy. He’s agitated. He repeats. “I said, Do You Suck D—k?” I’m looking around like, “Who the **&# is he talking to?” I’m wishing my girls are here, because they know I’m crazy. I’m wishing my husband is here, because he knows I’m crazy. I’m sizing him up, because he must think I’m someone else. He’s a good 5 feet 11 inches, probably 180 pounds. He looks like he tried out for the football team and didn’t make it. His clothes are dirty. He’s sweating. He’s raggedy. I see what this is. Maybe he thought he would try to say something slick because my headphones were in and he knew I couldn’t hear him, so he’s practicing. Maybe, he’s the guy that doesn’t get girls and is trying to play tough because some girls around his way like to be spoken to like that. I pause. I tell myself, “Maybe you can use this as a teaching moment.” I say to him: “You should be ashamed of yourself.” I’m proud. I handled that like an adult. He’ll feel bad. He’ll say, “Damn. My bad shordee.” He’ll be sorry. He looks at me. Dryly. Directly. “Shut the fuck up before I take you behind this tree and rape you.” It’s like I’m hearing in slow motion: “Shut the fuck up before I take you behind this tree and rape you.” I see red. Then and now. If you’ve ever been to the Inner Harbor, you know that it’s kind of like a strip with no beach, just struggling shops and a body of water that goes around the city. I think, “Maybe I should push him.” Maybe I should push him in the water so that he can never say some BS like that again. Or spit in his face. Or slap him. Or kick him. Or something. Or something … Maybe, if I hurt him, he will never say something like this to another woman again. I stand there for a second and try to think of what I should say. What do you say to someone when they tell you they’re going to rape you? I’m a hot head so I have insults for days. I’ll start by telling him he’s a piece of shit. How he’s never going to be anything. How only someone who was nothing would say something like that. I can’t do this. How can I look a black boy in his face and tell him he is nothing? I crumble. I hate him and feel bad for him at the same time. I wonder who failed him; Who in his life made him feel like it was OK to be like this. I start to walk away. In a split second, I go from angry to anxious and I have this sudden feeling that I’m in danger. My bag is dangling on my shoulder, but I quickly switch it to cross- body position. I start speed walking to put some distance between us. I look over my shoulder. He’s sitting down on a cement-like bench near the water, staring at me. Smiling. I want him to fall in. I wonder if he can swim. I hope he can’t. continued on page 12