It’s happened again. A young woman minding her own business was murdered because she refused to “talk” to a guy. Janese Talton-Jackson is the latest victim of street harassment. The senseless killing of Jackson is reminiscent of Mary Spears, a mother I wrote about who was shot for not giving a guy her phone number. When I hear these kind of stories it’s alarming how some men feel they are entitled to women’s everything. Why can’t they just go away when women express disinterest in them? It doesn’t matter if you try to be nice about it. If you don’t act how they think you should act you quickly become a bitch, ugly, etc.
Reading about the death of Jackson made me think about an incident that happened when I was 18 years old. I was fresh from the beauty salon sporting jumbo box braids I had seen Janet Jackson wear in “Poetic Justice.” I was waiting at the bus stop happy about my new ‘do. Two adult black males walked past me. One of them catcalled me. I tried to be polite gave (the head nod) and went back to staring off into space like a typical teenager. For some reason, my response pissed the guy off. Suddenly, this grown ass man became belligerent with me. I was shocked and scared. Luckily, the other man with him grabbed him and pulled him away. “Hey man,” I heard him say, “She’s just a kid.” The man went on a rant about “bitches” being rude. The friend continued to push the guy away as I looked on in confusion. The bus pulled up and I hopped on relieved.
When I think back on that day I get goosebumps. What would have been the outcome if the friend HADN’T been there? Would I be another victim of gender violence? Would my name even made the evening news. This was back in the early 90’s before folks really talked about street harassment, especially how it affected black women/girls. We are only more aware of this issue because of social media. BLACK WOMEN/GIRLS have made it their mission to say enough is enough. We can’t continue the kinship of “brotha/”sistah”if one half of the duo isn’t truly being a “brotha” to us.
OF COURSE, black men aren’t the only ones guilty of street harassment. But intra-racial violence is more common than not. That’s why it’s ridiculous when people talk about “black on black” crime.
And for the men saying they are the “good ones” it’s more than respecting the women in your life. You have to stand up like the guy did that day when I was all alone and stop your friend if you seeing him getting out of hand. Don’t laugh or encourage it. You may prevent an unnecessary loss of life.