Race and street harassment in North London

I read this blog regularly and I often notice posts in which a black woman has experienced harassment by black males and that there is a power dynamic of some sort at work there which they can see very clearly. After walking home today, I wondered what white women’s experiences are of this and if/how/why they differ: I have a 5-minute walk home in London from my tube station, through generally quiet suburban streets. It’s very much a multicultural area but I find myself experiencing a disproportionate amount of harassment from young black men.

Today, walking home, I see a guy walking towards me on the same side of the street and I can tell, even before I get near him, that he’s going to say/do something. Right on cue, he moves right over to my side of the pavement [sidewalk], taking up all the space so I can’t get past. I’ve had a good day until this point and am so annoyed I shove into his arm with my bag to get past. He doesn’t do anything, just keep walking, not even that shocked – maybe it happens all the time. Then, turn onto the next street and there’s another guy walking towards me, giving me that same attitude with eyes up and down my body, leering, swaggering. I don’t need this on my 5 minute walk home.

Both these guys were black and I would guess in their late 20s to early 30s, and both had the same attitude towards me which I’ve encountered countless times in London. I don’t know – I’m willing to accept the suggestion that it’s a coincidence. Maybe I ‘project’ something that makes me a likelier target for harassment? And maybe this is exactly what they do to anyone, regardless of race, and it feels ‘racially-oriented’ whether you’re black/white etc. It just feels – call it feminine intuition or whatever you will – that this is a specific, somehow different, attitude to me as a white woman.

I don’t like saying that. It feels like I can’t say that I experience this because it’s me being ‘discriminatory’ in some way. It really feels like this is a taboo subject but it seems to happen so often to me that I am, in some awful way, starting to distrust young black men generally, which is horrible. Has anyone else felt this? Maybe it’s just an attitude that comes from a small group of young guys, influenced by whatever, who are more visible in their harassment because it is so aggressive? I don’t know – I just feel frustrated that I’m not enjoying living where I live because of these incidents….

– Anonymous

Location: North London

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.

4 Responses to Race and street harassment in North London

  1. PooBerry says:

    Harassers don’t care what your ethnicity is, how tall you are, how you’re dressed, blah blah. I will admit, though, that even here in DC, I’ve only ever been harassed by black men, my own kind, and it’s actually given me an aversion to them. It wasn’t until recently that I realized why I cared more for men of other races. From most of the black men I’ve ever had any kind of contact with, it’s been harassment.

    It always seems as though it happens so often to YOU, but believe me, there’s probably 5 other cases of it happening around you while you’re getting harassed. There never seems to be a special case. They bother almost any type of woman.

  2. Amelia says:

    I think that some sexual harassers do care about ethnicity (as well as other things like gender and class).

    I’m white, and I live in New Zealand. Six months ago me and a friend were sexually harrassed by a few Maori guys. To me it felt hostile, like the guys didn’t like us not only because we were female, but also because we were white. Their gender was the one card that society had given them to put themselves ‘above’ us.

    I’ve been sexually harrassed by men from a range of ethnicities (white, Asian, Maori, Turkish), but that is the only time it felt motivated by race or class to me.

  3. Frankie says:

    I’m sorry you were harassed.

    Have you considered that your fear of black men might be being heavily reinforced by your White socialization? Perhaps if you explored the idea you may begin to feel more comfortable where you live?

  4. noz says:

    The black men who behave like that are sleaze balls plain and simple. When I lived in London the same thing would happen to me and I’m a black woman. These men target women whatever colour they are! It isn’t happening to you because you are white…In fact I’ve had a couple of white men behave like that towards me too! It happens because they are sad pathetic losers.

    Men worth getting to know of any ethnicity see no need to behave like this in my view.

    Also the guys who do this seem unaware that rather than being viewed as harmless flirty fun by women that they can seem intimidating. They may not be aware of how most women walking alone especially at night and/or the tube are unfortunately unnerved and suspicious of men they have never met before striking up a conversation with them.If some understood this I would like to hope that they would think twice before behaving like this!

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