I’m a 20 year old South Asian woman living in Berkeley, CA, USA. I was riding the 18 bus to Macarthur BART station in Oakland around 8.45 at night. I was sitting near the front of the bus reading a book and listening to music. There was a black man in his 30s sitting in front of me, who turned all the way around in his seat and staring at me. I managed to ignore him for a while, but when I took one earbud out of my ear to adjust it, he took that as an invitation to tell me I had beautiful hair. I smiled very slightly but didn’t say anything and went back to my music and book.
He kept talking to me, in a raised voice so as to be heard even above my music. Finally I took my earbud out again and said very quietly, “If you don’t mind I would just like to read, thanks”.
He proceeded to get very angry and began calling me an “uppity bitch”, a “fat ho”, and a “racist Indian cunt” who thought I was “too good to talk to a black man”.
I kept my eyes down because I really didn’t want to give him any more reason to follow me off the bus and he eventually stopped cursing at me and walked to the back of the bus.
I’ve lived in Berkeley for three years now and I’ve been catcalled, whistled at, had my appearance remarked upon multiple times but this was the first time I was actually worried I was in danger. Sometimes I hate living in this area.
Location: Berkeley, California
[editor’s note: see this blog post for how common this man’s reaction is.]