"Standing at the bus stop in the middle of 51st st, i must really look like the rose that grew from concrete. Ninjas in cars ninjas on corners say things meant to pass for compliments. I wonder would they know what to do with a garden or would they snatch and pluck the petals cuz they aint had nuthin nice before. "
That was my Facebook status last Saturday. I wasn't wearing anything low cut, tight fitting, "inviting", nor was I naked, but somehow I ended up feeling totally exposed.
I'm not the thickest crayon in the box or the most gorgeous of them all mirror on the wall, but sometimes--like when I'm standing at the bus stop with men yelling and honking from their cars, or watching me from across street corners and the bus conveniently decides to run beyond behind schedule--I wish I was a little more unpretty.
The other day, I asked a friend of mine for a ride because I was wearing make up that day and told him that it wasn't a good idea for me to be on public transportation and traveling on foot around my neighborhood looking too cute. I think he may have thought I was joking, but I was serious.
I have no problem with compliments, or even a SHORT lustful glance, but with some men it doesn't stop there. Some will circle the block...walk with (err, follow?) you...stand with you...invade your personal space while engaging in unwarranted conversation.
I remember being a little girl and ignoring the cat calls while I was walking to the store or out playing. It only takes so many times of hearing, "Well f**k you then!" or "B***h!" before you figure out that maybe ignoring the problem won't make it go away. I learned to speak and be friendly (because God forbid my lack of acknowledgment be misconstrued as an overall dismissal of the BLACK MAN and I am the ANGRY BLACK WOMAN,oh no).
But even in speaking, extending that common courtesy of speaking when spoken to is sometimes interpreted as an invitation. I just want to get on the bus, man. I just want to get where I'm going and look how I look. And I want that to be okay. Even dressing "down" isn't enough. I'd have to dress down to looking like a crackhead, I suppose.
Walking these streets, I think a lot about little girls. I think about little girls with grown women bodies who are getting the same attention I get when I'm at the bus stop. Those thoughts scare me. Our little girls just want to get to school. Or to their Granny's house.They just want to get where they're going and look how they look. And they want that to be okay. I want that for them.
When I saw a bus coming in the opposite direction, I ran across the street to catch it. Figured it'd be better to go out of my way and ride it all the way back around than stand on that corner waiting for it to circle back. Before I got on, a dude yelled out, "You changed your mind about the bus? I was coming back for you!"
When the bus circled back, he was standing at the bus stop where I had been.