The other night I was walking home, and was within two blocks of my house. I saw three kids, about 15, 16 years old, on bikes, riding the opposite way past me. I was on the sidewalk. They were in the street. Out of the corner of my eye I saw one of the kids whisper something to the others as he looked at me. Not good. My senses went up. I walked faster to get to the intersection just ahead. As I got to the corner, I turned around. One of the kids had ducked away from his friends and was within inches of me, just next to the arm that was holding my bag. I know what you’re doing motherfucker.
When he realized I saw him, he had a brief look of shock on his face and nodded at me. I don’t think he was expecting me to know he was there. Then he doubled back, deciding to ride on sidewalk on the side of the street we were on instead of the sidewalk to which we were crossing. He and I continued, each on our own side of the street, staring at each other, waiting to see what the other one was going to do. My adrenaline was pumping. I was pissed, there’s nothing I hate more than a thief. Nothing. I almost dared him to do something. He’s alone, he’s younger than me, and sans weapon or backup from his friends, I could probably beat his thieving fucking ass if it came down to it. Kids these days are pumped full of McDonald’s. Hardly a match for my Protein Shakes and routine ass kicking at my gym. He came up to the next block before I did, I saw him do a U-turn in the street, right in front of a cop, and sped off the way he came, toward his friends.
I walked clear across the intersection and told the cop what had just happened. He took off in their direction. I can guarantee he probably didn’t catch them, for we’ve learned that the roaches can outsmart the D.C. Cops on their best day.
So, what told me I was about to be mugged? Yes, I grew up in Connecticut but we spent every weekend in New York in the 70’s and 80’s, pre-Giuliani, when crime was rampant. I have the Hudson River in my blood, and I can sense when I’m in danger. These kids didn’t belong in this neighborhood. They acted suspicious. When people eye you and start whispering, you are being talked about. When one abandons his other friends and follows you coming within inches of you, yeah. Feel it. You are about to be mugged. Unlike many of the faces I pass each day and evening, I’ve never seen these kids before. I had to ask myself as I continued walking home if I would have felt the same way if the kids were white. Yeah. I would have. They acted suspicious and that was what made me worried. Then I asked myself if I could have been wrong. Sure, but it’s a slim chance. Did I “profile” them because of their race, age and behavior? Yup. I sure did. Call it racism, but it saved me from being mugged. And frankly I’d listen to my senses again if it’s going to save me from getting hurt.
Believe me, I wish we could all just get along. I am a true believer in every word in John Lennon’s “Imagine.” I wrote a grad school paper on that song. But I’m not a bleeding heart and I know that this will never happen. I’m realistic. I see that there’s a lot of resent in all directions, across all races, and I know we will never see a day without racism and hate. I refuse to contribute to that sort of hate, but I know how things work and I get that as the white, upper middle class female, I have to be aware of other’s hatred of me and what I stand for in their eyes. That puts me in a position to be victimized. Do I cringe or brace myself because someone approaches me who “looks dangerous?” Nope. I cringe and brace myself because I know that that person, of another race, may have been trained to hate me, and may just do something about it.
I carry mace with me. And the next time someone fucks with me, they aren’t going to be pleased. But, I dare them. If the cops can’t clean up the streets, it’s up to the rest of us.