“Keep yo hands to yo self!” – A side-eye worthy story
So this week’s self care tip is straight from a situation I encountered this weekend as my partner & I waited impatiently for our morning cup of joe.
Essentially just minding our black ass business when I felt a tiny hand gently placed on my shoulder. As I looked down at the hand, I instantly knew it wasn’t my partner’s hand because nothing about it felt familiar. I look up to the face of the person who had the caucasity to touch me as if we were friends or even knew each other cordially. We did not. The person touching me was an older woman, a face that was completely unfamiliar to me. My first instinct was defense but in a very “I’ve been in this situation before so I know what to do” sort of way. She said “OmG HonEy I lovE Your jacKEt! If you ever consider getting rid of it, give me a call!” The expression on my face was my infamous eye roll followed by a smile. I turn my body around slightly enough for her to notice the Black Power fist button on the collar of said jacket. I intentionally looked down at it then back up at her to ensure we were on the same page. Because the thoughts racing through my mind were full of sailors language, hand gestures and neck rolls, I.e., “Bitxh, don’t you EVER…” But also on my mind was, “she means no harm. She means no harm…”. A few moments later, her husband said as they headed for the door, “Oh she’s not kidding! She noticed your jacket as soon as we got out of the car.” When I realized which car they were headed to, of course these were the folks parked right beside me, just a little too close for my comfort. And as I hopped out to go inside a few minutes earlier, I remembered thinking “why the hell would you park so close?! How the hell am I suppose to get out?!”
Now, I know you’re probably thinking how is this story gonna help you live more intently. Well, if you know like I know, first things first, you don’t touch people you don’t know and even some of the people you do know, you might wanna be clear about the boundaries with them as well. Personal space is very important where I come from. As a long time public transportation commuter, I learned early on how edging folks get about their personal space. I also learned that when someone, anyone, gets too close you may need to prepare to make a defensive move. So when Susan decided to lay her pale hand on my shoulder, I wasn’t sure if I should react like she would’ve reacted if I just randomly walked up to her and started touching her OR if I should react like the classy lady I was raised to be and handle with care. I chose the latter. And not because I didn’t wanna cuss that… “woman” out. But because I have a firm understanding in the amount of power I had in that situation. When she made the decision to touch me, an unknown black woman, she made the decision to hand over absolute power in letting me make the next move. If I had reacted negatively, which I wanted to, I could’ve easily caused a scene, maybe even called the police explaining how some “Thug” had just assaulted me in a coffee shop for no apparent reason. I could’ve gone on to plead my case in saying that this “Thug” made me fear for my life so my actions in defending myself were warranted. However, I chose to show her grace. I decided that the fact that she thought she was even entitled to insert herself into my personal space and NOT face a consequence was the true definition of white privilege. Perhaps a privilege she is either aware or unaware of. And yes, I made a passive aggressive move by showing off my button but it was necessary. It was my defense. It was a move to show that I chose not to hand her ass to her in the form of profanity but to show her that I was sparing her in a way that I didn’t have to. I chose to allow her to see that I am just as human as she is. That I have reflexes and feelings about someone trying to occupy my space just like she may have if me, a black woman or my partner, had decided to invade her space. Susan may not have used her power as lightly as we did. But we chose to be civil and cordial as well as assertive and clear.
You can let folks know you mean business without being as asshole. Let them know you are kind and caring but you are definitely not to be f*cked with. Smile and say your peace. It’s not up to you to decide how they feel about it. Your only job is to defend yourself. And offenders are always going to feel offended by you defending yourself, even if they know they were wrong. Protect your magic, peace and energy. All power to the people! ✊🏾