Story

HOLLA ON THE GO: Attempted pick-up

I was walking home at around 8pm at night when a man in a van slowed down next to me and whistled out his window, asking me if I wanted ‘to go for a ride’

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Story

HOLLA ON THE GO: Photographed

I was standing at a crossing waiting to cross the road when a guy turned around and said “Nice!” to me, and then took a photo of me on his phone and walked off.

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Uncategorized

HOLLA ON THE GO: “Lady”

A guy singing lady in red at me loudly.

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Stalking, Story

Emily’s Story: Threatened time and again

A few months ago I was followed and harassed by a man on the street. He verbally harassed me and did some very displeasing noises while he walked nearby. This went on for a few blocks and I kept telling him to stop, but he wouldn’t. The street was relatively lonely and I felt nervous and very angry. Some people on the street saw what was happening but did nothing; if anything, they looked away. When I finally got to a main road, I saw a policeman and decided to report what was happening. The policeman looked very confused and asked the man what was happening, to which he responded that he was just giving me a compliment. I told him that I had asked him to stop several times and that sexual harassment was a crime. The policeman kept doing nothing; he just asked for the man’s ID. I was feeling really angry and impotent, so I caught a bus to go home. When I looked outside the bus window, I saw the policeman letting my harasser go. I felt even worst than before, I was frustrated and a part of me felt that what I had done was wrong.
When I told my friends about wat happened they tried to be comprehensive but some of them made me feel like I had overreacted. They made me feel guilty and exaggerated.
A few days later I was walking on the same street (It was very near to my workplace), and I ran into the same man. He recognized me and started calling me names and saying “report me again bitch”. He insulted me from a distance and shouted really demeaning and hurtful things at me, such as “I will fuck you, whore”. I tried to defend myself but got really scared that he would hurt me physically, so I tried to walk away fast. Two men were going by while this happened and didn’t to anything, they just stood by and looked down, although this man was clearly threatening me. I told them that they could have done something to help me and they just ignored me. After this happened I felt really helpless, depressed, nervous, angry and scared. I cried all my way home, thinking that I should never have reported this man; If I had walked by and ignored him nothing would have happened. I knew, rationally, that I hadn´t done anything wrong, but I felt so guilty and foolish. For the next few days I felt terrified to walk to work and run into the man again. Still, sometimes when I walk through this area I try to make myself unnoticed and I feel really nervous. I know that I did the right thing, but I was silenced and now I look dow when I walk near there. And this makes me so angry. Public harassment is real, it happens almost daily, it is hurtful, and it needs to stop.

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Story, youth

Safia’s Story: Catcallers learn at a young age

I was walking in the parking lot of my boxing gym (which I started going to partially because I want to be able to protect myself) after a workout. As I was crossing the lot to my car another car drove by and I heard someone yell out the window “heyyyyy Babyyyy.” I have called men out for catcalling many times in the past and this time would have been no different. As I turned to say something, I saw that the person calling out to me was a preteen boy yelling out of the back window of his parents minivan. I was so shocked that they start them that young, I couldn’t even form the words. I can only hope that his parent disciplined him or at least explained to him that what he did was wrong and why. I took to social media to vent about what had happened, and while most people were equally appalled some people thought that it was “cute” that a little kid did it. I can see how that might be cute, kind of like when a little kid curses, but its just a sign of how much this is a societal problem. Kids start catcalling at a young age because they see other people do it and don’t see how it can be damaging to others and nobody explains it because “its cute” and then they grow up and do it as adults, and that is definitely not “cute.”

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transphobic, Verbal

Elizabeth’s Story: “I am a strong woman.”

I got harassed twice this morning, walking to my new favorite local coffee shop before catching the bus to work. I was not even dressed or acting sexually provocatively. Given I am a transgender woman, I personally feel I get a different type of street harassment.

Today, as I was approaching an intersection, a car stopped. He had his window rolled down and just waited for me to approach. He wasn’t on his phone (as in responding to a text message) or anything and there wasn’t any cars around. He started flirting with me and asking how I was doing. Thankfully, a car came up and he had to proceed. I didn’t say anything, as I usually do.

The second incident happened after the coffee shop visit. I was waiting at another intersection, an intersection with a traffic light, and this guy slows down with his window rolled down, and started to whistle at me and said, “I’d like to f— your tranny ass.”

While I am going to accept that I am very bothered by what happened, I am not going to let it stop me from being who I am or walking in my own neighborhood. I am not going to let them win. I am a strong woman.

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Stalking, Story

Daliza’s Story: Feeling unprotected in public

One morning on my way to work, I got on the bus and was the only person on besides the bus driver when a man gets on and sits directly in front of me in the back of the bus. Although I had my headphones on I could hear the man trying to get my attention and motioning towards me so that I could give him my full attention. Thinking I should probably be cautious, I moved my seat and sat directly in front of the bus driver under the impression that if anything were to happen the bus driver would protect me or at least ask the man to get off the bus. This was not the case though. The man followed me to the front of the bus and began to yell at me and laugh maniacal. At this point I was terrified, yet the bus driver still did NOTHING. My stop finally came and I attempted to walk towards the exit, only to have this strange man attempt to follow me off the bus. I then took a step back looking at the bus driver with no prevail, but the man then sat back down and I got off the bus only to have the man get off on the next stop. Thankfully it was as though God was on my side and it began to rain very hard and the man ran opposite to the direction I was in. This experience has left me completely traumatized and in the realization that I am not protected in the streets and not even on public transportation, which I have to take every single day.

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Story

HOLLA ON THE GO: No peace on the bus

A guy sitting next to me on the bus and constantly badgering me to go out with him until I got off the bus.

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Uncategorized

Reflections on Facing Race Conference from Baltimore Site Leader Mel

“Try to make it safe for people to be wrong [when talking about racism]. Part of that is including myself in the wrong-ness.” – Sally Kohn


Facing Race 2014, a national conference about racial justice, was held in Dallas, TX this year and I had the privilege of attending as a representative of Hollaback.  It was the largest Facing Race ever with 1,600 attendees and its accompanying hashtag #FacingRace2014 trended nationally as people documented conference highlights on social media.  It’s been a few days since the last plenary session and I’m still trying to soak it all in.  What weighs heavy on my mind as I make sense of everything is the consistent messaging for us, racial justice activists, mel with key and peeleto be kind.


From the first event, the biggest names in the racial justice world dropped bombs of knowledge followed by encouragement for us all to call people in and not call people out, as Jaime-Jin Lewis of the organization Border Crossers said.  Lewis told us to look towards a future movement that is based on healing.  Rinku Sen, President of Race Forward, then told us to, “lower our litmus tests for friends and allies, and trust that people become anti-racist by doing racial justice work”.  These notions aren’t new nor are they bad, but I was surprised at this consistent messaging and the honesty of the speakers.


As a woman of color, I value being in majority people of color spaces because they’re so rare.  I feel safe to vent about racism without a filter and there’s solidarity in our struggles.  This conference was speaking to a majority audience of color and the repetitive suggestions for us to “lower our litmus test” were blunt requests to do better that I hadn’t heard in that setting before.  The esteemed speakers and presenters weren’t asking us to shut up or stop getting angry, which is what sometimes can happen when asked to be kind; they were calling for us to have empathy and compassion.


Six community organizers from the Ferguson, MO protests spoke about their work on day 2 of the conference bright and early at 8:00am.  They were asked what the best thing is that we, as racial justice activists, can do to support them.  The resounding answer was to go home to our communities and talk to people about racism; create a dialogue about what life is like for people of color.  Having those difficult conversations is needed work and a first step in making sure people remember the names of young men like Mike Brown because every community has a Mike Brown.anti-imperial ballroom
I found myself thinking about all of this and feeling, for the first time, like venting or a safe space is not the priority.  This people of color-focused space that I hold so sacred was not meant for emotional release this weekend.  Hip Hop Legend and activist Jay Smooth described it best as balancing self-care and the needed catharsis of telling someone off who’s being racist while not always resorting to those reactions as a default.  I’ve been contemplating since then: what is my default — righteous anger?  Is that all it is or do I couple it with some compassion?


Just when I thought there was nothing else anyone could possibly say that I hadn’t already heard, the final plenary blew me away.  Ian Haney Lopez, Van Jones and Rinku Sen together were a trifecta of nuance on the next 50 years of the racial justice movement.  Ian Haney Lopez pushed us to fight the concept of non-Whiteness within communities of color and complicated the popular belief that White folks will be in the minority in 2042.  This prediction depends on whether or not the definition of Whiteness expands and with many White Latinos self-identifying as White, the percentage of White facing race bus tourfolks in the USA could actually increase in 50 years.  Van Jones came on stage and told us all to expand our hustle by leveraging technology to make our own money, not depending on the mostly White male technocracy of Silicon Valley to dictate the gadgets and apps we use.  And finally, Rinku Sen brought it all home as she actually told us not to place people on our “shit list” (yes, her word choice! so perfect) for making mistakes and reiterated the need to have difficult conversations about race.  She did not hold back in telling the movement that we need to be more compassionate than we are right now.  My favorite moment was when she voiced her dislike of critiquing one another on Twitter and urged us to hold each other accountable for mistakes both in person and in private.


Facing race is difficult not just because the oppression we’re confronting is at a larger structural level, but it hits people of color at the personal level, too.  Resulting trauma makes it difficult to see through the righteous anger we have; but this year’s conference was a wake-up call for our compassion.  The wisdom from this year’s conference is settling in with me now and I’m taking a closer look at how I define a friend and racial justice ally.  Social media has made us all especially easy subjects of scrutiny and it’s also easier to scrutinize one another than ever before.  It’s time to create a better balance of self-care and reexamine what our defaults are so we can be in a place to discuss racism with many others, and ultimately grow the movement to end it.


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Stalking, Story

Kimi’s Story: Followed while biking home

I was biking home from work last night, way after dark. I had stopped at an intersection because a few cars were crossing. A man pulled up in his car next to me. I remember his car was an SUV with an Auburn University sticker on it. I could tell he was looking at me, and I thought he was saying something. I figured he was lost, so I asked if he needed help. He couldn’t find a certain road, he said, so I gave him directions, then pedaled off toward my house. I expected him to turn at the intersection behind me, because that was where I had told him he could get to the road he was looking for. Instead, he followed me. I was worried, but I thought he may have forgotten the directions, so I hoped he didn’t mean any harm. As I was riding down a hill, he pulled alongside me. “You want to make some extra money tonight?” he said. I was so freaked out that I replied, “No thanks!” If I had had the presence of mind, I would have told him to fuck off. I braked my bike, hoping his momentum would carry him past me, but he braked, too. We repeated these maneuvers several times. I remembered feeling guilty for wearing a tank top and shorts, riding my bike so late at night, but at the same time realizing that what was happening was not my fault. I was terrified that he was going to knock me off my bike and rape me. And I remember being furious that a man had the power to make me so afraid. I was about to reach my apartment, and I wasn’t about to show him where I lived, so I cut in front of him and pedaled down a dark street a block away from my apartment. Luckily, he didn’t follow. I pedaled for couple of blocks and finally stopped, hiding in the darkness under a tree, still so angry that I was hiding, fearing for my life in a supposedly free country. I called my roommate and kept her on the phone the whole ride home. I never saw him again. I knew I was lucky, but I didn’t want to have to call it lucky. “Lucky” isn’t being able to keep your rights, is it? At the time, it never occurred to me to call it harassment.

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