How Can We End Street Harrassment? One Black Woman Shares Her Pain

Kim Katrin Milan
Kim Katrin Milan

How many times have you walked to the corner store with genuine fear in your gut? You want to smile but if you do its an open invitation for taunts from our black brothers and even some of them trying to touch you inappropriately.

Black men are not the only ones who do this but the truth is when they are not doing it we cannot depend on some of them to protect us when they see it happening.

I saw this message posted on Facebook by a young lady named Kim Katrel who expressed her genuine pain about street harrassment, read below:

Yesterday on my way home, I dealt with the usual onslaught of street harassment, and then at about midnight running (quite literally) from the train to my home, had two guys outside of a car grab me and try to pull me towards their car. I can’t know what their ultimate intentions were, but it was the literal last straw.

I am very polite with my refusals, not that it matters, but I spend so much time working hard to ensure I never make eye contact, always have big headphones, always have my phone charged, walks very fast or run between the places I go to.

I wear jackets and sweaters even when I am hot and its warm when I am alone — I am tired of trying to go to the bodega only to be called a cunt or b*tch just because I ignore the man yelling that he likes my azz. I have to hide my smile, my love, and the kindness I want to extend to others just to keep safe.

To one of the Black men who would not respect my clear no’s I said, “Do you know how hard I ride for you, how much I value your safety, how long our history is, and you can’t just hear me and respect me when I say no? And understand that it is scary when a stranger grabs you as you are walking alone at night.”

And it’s not just Black men who engage in street harassment, and although it isn’t all men, its enough to make walking the streets unsafe all the time. I expect to be afforded a kind of humanity and a kinship – the same kind I would extend.

I don’t touch people with out their permission, I don’t call people horrible names just because they have said no. This culture is so toxic, and despite the most vulnerable pleas for respect – I am constantly met with vitriol when I call it out.

I just keep recommitting to keep other Black women and girls safe, to be on the phone when you need someone to walk you home, to remind us that we are not at fault, to share resources and tools meant to increase our safety and self love. Because I love you all, you are precious and deserve to be protected.

At the end of her post she added this tweet:

Much respect to the men out there who look out for their sisters, and much respect to the black women protecting other black women.


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