“I WAS ON THE D TRAIN IN MANHATTAN…”

I was on the D train in Manhattan on my way to work in the morning, standing against the door. The seat right next to me opened up, and I considered taking it, until a woman (a middle-aged lady in business clothes) got on the train and walked toward it like she wanted to sit down. I yielded to her. She hovered over it for a while, but was doing something on her phone. After the subway doors closed, and I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to take the seat, I asked her if she’d meant to take the seat. She looked up from her phone, shook her head, and moved out of the way. I sat down. A young man standing nearby (under 25) said loudly “you a motherfucking bitch.” I looked at him, which prompted him to say “yeah, I’m talking to you.” I said, “she wasn’t trying to sit down.” However, he kept antagonizing me and threatened to “beat the shit out of me”. (I am female, cis, and feminine-presenting – just like the woman who didn’t sit down. She, not wanting to be involved, was nowhere to be found at this point.) I took out my phone to take a picture of him, but he was in close physical proximity and knocked the phone out of my hand. He got very defensive and belligerent, and threatened to “beat the shit out of me” 2 more times. I retrieved my phone, and when a seat opened up farther away where I could easily take his picture, I moved. He immediately turned his back to me and got off the train at the next stop, with his back turned toward me the whole time. The other woman was NOT discernibly disabled or pregnant, not elderly, not carrying anything heavy (she had a purse), or having a hard time. Though there were no overt slurs said, I believe this situation may have been motivated by xenophobia and racism. The circumstances and context of this situation closely resemble situations in which I’m told to “go back to China”, or something similar. (Obviously, I’m Asian.) The conflict is always waged over my right (as a preceived foreigner) to occupy physical space in public places – especially crowded ones – and it always culminates in hostility that is uncalled for, or disproportionate to the situation. I don’t know if the man would have been so zealous (or audacious) about picking a fight with me in this situation if I were not someone who is considered foreign. [got_back]