“This entry is a snapshot from one evening when I’d had enough”

This is a excerpt from my online diary about the constant harassment I faced in a neighborhood I lived in in Oakland. I literally couldn’t step out of my door at any time of day or night and walk a block without being harassed or threatened.

This entry is a snapshot from one evening when I’d had enough.

_______________________________

halloween

2001-10-31 – 9:39 p.m.

I tried to get to the bus. The 57. The same route, the same way I went the day I was mugged. The bus that used to take me to work before the day things blew-up and I collapsed into a ball and never went to work again.

It’s Halloween, my favorite holiday ever. The trick-or-treaters are smart not to walk on my street. I was wearing a 50’s housewife dress with my black beehive wig. The higher the hair the closer to god. I was trying to get to the bus to meet Prem and go to a party in San Francisco.

Slowly I opened my front door and looked out, a bus wizzed by and my gut clenched. My hand shook as I turned the little lock on my screen door. I stepped over the dead matted dirt grass we call a lawn, and San Pablo stretched out in front of me, all shady streetlights and anonymous cars. Five blocks to the bus stop. You can make it. Prem said you would be okay.

Block one, a red truck whirls down the street in front of me, does a quick u-turn, and stops in a near-by driveway. I can faintly hear the dark-haired man asking me if I need a ride. I pretend I don’t hear him, I keep walking. This happens all the time on this street. It’s going to be okay, just 4 more blocks, you’ll be safe.

Block two, a group of kids at a bus stop, they seem harmless. I listen for footsteps behind me, I make sure each car that rolls by doesn’t come too close. My eyes are panoramic. I try to see, anticipate anything.

Block three, black and orange balloons are tied to the fence of Phat Beats. The same fence I was looking at in september when I heard footsteps run-up behind me. It was daylight, 8 am on labor day and I was walking to the 57 to go to work. A man ran-up behind me, I knew from the sound of his footsteps what he was about to do, but even that knowledge gave me nothing to stop it. He put his arm around my neck, I screamed. He said: Give me your purse or I’ll hurt you. (how many times have I recalled this story? I remember one of the symptoms of PTSD is to constantly talk of what happened)There was another man waiting for him in a faded grey car. I was lucky they just wanted my money. If they’d wanted to hurt me, kidnap me, they could have.

Walking by Phat Beats in my 50’s housewife dress on Halloween.

Do I look like a hooker to you? It’s fucking Halloween, can’t I be left alone just one night of the year?

An old truck pulls up to the curb next to me. My radar sounds. The face peering out of the passenger window is an ragged middle-aged man. As he leers at me his eyes– hungry and glassed-over, are inhuman. That’s it. no more.

I turned and walked as fast as I could away from the truck, past the kids again, heading towards home. My hand shook as I put the key in my front door. No one was behind me, no one had followed me.

I ripped-off my wig and threw it on the kitchen table.

– D

Location: Oakland, CA

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Find suggestions for what YOU can do about this human rights issue.

3 Responses to “This entry is a snapshot from one evening when I’d had enough”

  1. Kat says:

    I know exactly how you feel. Thank you so much for describing it so well. It is torture, and few understand. You did a great job of explaining it.

  2. oh. What a scary story, and you have written it so vividly that I could feel my own neck prickle with fear. I am so sorry. To be scared to leave your own house. That is horrible. I hope things get better for you. thank you for sharing and I hope expressing your feelings here will help release the fear you feel.

  3. Editor001 says:

    As a young girl I grew up in a rough neighbor hood where the 15 used to come through. I was the only white girl for blocks, next to my mother and sister. That’s not what bothered me, not even the bigger black girls leering after me each day i was dropped off by the bu from my magnet school, 15 miles away.

    I’d been pushed and I had been beat up.Dirty old Mexican men would whistle and my waif form as I hurried home, clutching my books. Gang-banggers that frequented our streets would watch with a distant interest.
    At some point I adapted a mean, nasty snarl to my face when I walked home, one that stunk of ” I’m a fucking crazy white girl, and I hold no bars.” I was 13. At 32 years old I’ve been in the military, whistled, harassed, grouped and grabbed.

    In high school I was given the opportunity to take Takewando, kick boxing, weight training and jujitsu. Those classes built a foundation in self confidence, self defense and alertness.

    I’ve only been put in a position in where I had to use my years of training twice. Once in high school coming home, three Cholos rolled up on me in their school uniforms, demanding my back back. Two girls and a smaller boy. They couldn’t have been much older than me. The first girl grabbed my bag spinning me around.

    I snapped, the back pack went flying o the ground as my fist crossed her face, knocking her to the ground in a bloody mess, the other girl tried for a swing, and in a skirt, kicked her square in the gut, tumbling her back to the ground. She struck the ground staring, with tears welling up in her eyes,where she began to swear at me in Spanish, clamoring to her feet as the three took off.

    At the same time, the neighborhood, one which closed its curtains to the sound of a woman screaming rape, stared out from their lawns, one of the children in my apartment had gone running for my mother screaming I was getting beat up.

    She was pleasantly surprised to find me, standing wide legged, breathing hard with wild eyes.

    Only my hair was out of place.

    The lesson of my story.

    You can’t act and move like prey or a victim. I grew up in some of the hardest parts of SD.

    Show you’re teeth women, get strong, learn defense and know how to stop an attacker.

    ~True Dat,

    Doc

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