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.

I've got your back!
1+

no comments 
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.


3 comments 
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.

I've got your back!
62+

no comments 
demonstration, transphobic

KP’s Story: Followed by a man in the library

I’m not terribly attractive compared to a lot of other girls I know. Plus I wear baggy hoodies, jeans and my hair’s naturally messy. Even so, I did experience street harassment twice in the past. What happened recently took the cake; even if it wasn’t on the street, where it happened was as public as a street was.
I was at the library, buried in a book. All of a sudden, a guy just sat down on the other end of the couch and said hi. I gave a nod, politely said hi and turned back to the book. The guy looked to be in his 50’s or 60’s. When he started rambling, I nodded and replied with the occasional “mhm” because I was taught to respect your elders.
I began to notice he was slowly sliding over to me. And his eyes were looking everywhere else on my body BUT my eyes. Some of the language he was using made me feel uncomfortable and the stranger began asking me very personal questions.
I made up a quick act about how I’m running late to meet my friend, got up and hustled down the stairs. A moment later, while scanning the bookshelves, I noticed the same guy following me. Panicking, I fast-walked through the library to the girls bathroom. I stayed in there for a few minutes and when I asked another woman to see if the guy was still out there, he was.
Lucky for me, the bathroom had two doors. I used the other exit and ran down the hall to the elevator. I was back upstairs where I could hide out in one of the secluded areas and spy on the first floor through a special window.
It took an hour before that guy left the library. Entire time, he was looking around the first floor.
The library has always been my sanctuary to escape from stress and to relax for awhile. But that creep ruined the library for me. I can’t go back there cause he could return and the librarians won’t do anything about it. The library may not be the street. However it’s still a public place and women do have the right to be in public without harassment.

I've got your back!
17+

no comments 
Story

Sara’s Story: Her glasses are not up for comment

I was leaving the west village to meet my boyfriend, after having worked a long shift at the west village restaurant I’ve worked at for the past two years. I was wearing jeans, boots, a hoodie with the hood up and my glasses were on. I think I put the hoodie on because it was cold out and wanted to cover my head, not to make any kind of “statement.” It was a Tuesday night. As I’m walking along Macdougal past Turkiss Falafel shop, some guy looks me up and down and says “Wow, you look like Super Girl, and if you took off your glasses you would probably look awesome!” I get endless catcalls leaving work in this area, but this one stuck with me mostly because the nonchalant way this guy said this subversive comment, with no concern for how it actually came out, like he had just sneezed and kept on walking. Who are you to tell me what I do and do not look like to you?! Would you ever say that to a guy who had his hoodie up? And who are you to tell me if I would look better or worse without my glasses on?! I do not just exist for your viewing enjoyment! I am not the couch in you and your roommate’s place that you can just say, hmm it would look better on that wall, and maybe without the couch cover. I am human being. I need glasses to see. And if girls with glasses are not sexy to you, why would you feel the need to say that to a random stranger who wasn’t even making eye contact with you.

I've got your back!
19+

no comments 
Stalking, Story

Tori’s Story: Harassed and followed in many cities

Okay, so to start off I’ll give you a little bit of history- this incident happened 3 years ago (I was fifteen at the time). I got on a bus by the local shopping center. Only one seat was open by the time I got on because I made sure all of the elderly people had found a seat first. I was wearing a t-shirt that said University of Virginia Rowing Camp- it wasn’t revealing, just stated that I was a rower attending one of the local training camps.
This guy claims to have been a rowing coach, tells enough stories to convince me that he at least knows a bit about the sport, but I tripped him up on the difference between port and starboard- in maritime world “Port” means the left side, “Starboard” means the right side. In Rowing, this gets reversed. Any real crew coach would have caught on to the difference.
So, after realizing this (and that i didn’t have my cell phone or pepper spray with me) I got off the bus at the next stop. So did the guy. While I’m waiting for the next bus to appear, he proceeds to compliment me on my “southern accent”. I am from Connecticut, okay? The only way I have a southern accent is if you are from either Maine or Canada. I switched buses three more times. Each time I switched, so did he.
Eventually I made my way back to the center of the city and had to walk into the local police department to get this guy to stop following me. And that is only the first time this happened (it has happened three times since, in three separate cities. I was followed by a drunk guy in New York City who kept persistently trying to start a conversation about my shirt. My friend and I were both approached while walking to our local movie theater and asked by some guy who you could literally smell the cloud of weed smoke rolling off of if we wanted to go to a party. And the third time was during my first month of college here in Willimantic. A guy in a red Toyota four door pulled over and asked me: “Excuse me, how old are you?” While looking at my boobs in a way that implied what he was really asking, which was: “Is it legal to have sex with you”. I guess my real question is will it ever stop? I’m no more or less attractive than anybody else. What makes it okay for a man (or anyone ever) to do that to someone- taking away their sense of security to the point that they don’t feel safe to walk alone without pepper spray?

I've got your back!
18+

no comments 
Story

Andrea’s Story: Told to just deal with it

I was sixteen years old and my father sent me into Target to pick up a few things. While shopping I was followed around by a much older man. He would smile at me and he came up to me about three times asking me for my phone number. I tried to ignore him but he got more aggresive when I did. I told a store employee and was informed there was nothing they could do for me. But the part that upset me the most was when I told my father what happened and that I didn’t want to go into places by myself anymore, he informed me that this is just what happens when your pretty and that I just needed to ignore them and deal with the comments.

I've got your back!
16+

no comments 
Story

Raquel’s Story: Harassed even while with her husband

This is only the most recent story of harassment in my life. It’s not the worst either, not even the worst this month.

I didn’t have enough money to get out of the bus station. My husband had already gone through the barrier and was waiting for me on the other side. I go to pay at one of the atm like stations. While I’m standing there 2 men come up behind me, too close, and I ask them to back up. Instead they get in my face and says he isn’t doing anything, it escalates too fast. I’m terrified, I let my guard down because I was out with my husband so I didn’t have any pepper spray at the ready. I start freaking out and my husband rushes around the corner and starts screaming at these guys to back off. They don’t back off, they say they’re gonna hurt us. I really don’t want to say what my husband did next, but it was pretty obvious that he was going to kill these guys if he had to. I finally start thinking straight & run to jump the barrier and we ran for blocks.

I've got your back!
5+

no comments 
Uncategorized

HOLLA ON THE GO: Harassment in Venezuela

I live in Caracas Venezuela, i see and experienced this type of verbal herrasment every day in the street, the first time was on the subway that some ramdom guy told me to smile, i was so mad

I've got your back!
2+

no comments 
Story

Colleen’s Story: Creeped on in transit

This is not that recent, but I’d like to share. I was 33 and minding my own business on an airplane. The guy next to me started chatting me up and telling me what he did for a living (military, arms development). I played along because I didn’t want to be rude. I thought, “Well, I’m on a plane to Memphis, and I’ve heard that people are more outgoing or friendly or whatever in the South.” Then it turned into a dinner invitation, which I hedged. THEN it turned into this guy knocking repeatedly on my hotel room door and saying “Helllllooooo? You were going to go to dinner with me?! Hey!” several times in a row. I was cowering in my hotel room, at the age of 33 and with several years of being in a male-dominated profession. But what could I do? This still creeps me out.

I've got your back!
14+

no comments 
Page 3 of 343«12345»102030...Last »
Powered by WordPress