Wednesday, February 20, 2008

one ferry, three men, lots of anger

**sorry, long post!**

i took the staten island ferry and to and from SI today for work. both trips started calmly, with my head buried in reading material, and both ended with me in the midst of a good amount of anger. the first time (on the way there), i scribbled a poem in the back of the book i'm reading, almost running into the two men that inspired its writing (it needs revision, badly); the second time (on the way back), i wrote a blog post angrily on the margins of a piece of paper i found in my bag. i'm going to share both pieces here.

i don't know what's up with me and anger lately. there's something, though, about constantly feeling like me and mine are being openly dismissed/used/abused by others that just makes my blood boil a little bit. i bite my tongue, i don't fight, but my silence doesn't erase my anger.

i write my anger, and hope that it will resolve itself.

tears of rage, or
my brother always says i cry too easy

90 miles,
they say

two white(?) men.
the Staten Island ferry.

90 miles?
yeah, yeah
90 miles from Miami to

so close, they get
and their feet are

yuk, yuk.

90 miles.

as a tear of rage
seeped out of my eye,
i neglected to share
that cuba is 90 miles from
key west,

and when they
shouted out
the aryan nation
as the only
to miami's
i didn't say
that the problem is
ignorant bigots like them,
wearing 9.11.01 tee shirts.

i didn't say that
i'd prefer
wet feet
ignorance and hatred

i didn't say
that our country
was built with
wet feet,
or that

it would seem that
along with
drying feet
shrinking brains and narrowing

i didn't insult the
accent or

i didn't make
sweeping generalizations
about the group of
i believe he most resembles.

i didn't blame him and
his "kind"
for my lack of
comprehensive health insurance
or my
$60,000 in
student loans.
i didn't expect him
to understand
my tears
or my

there are just so. many. things. i
didn't say.


why is it that black middle aged men so often consider my body their property? at least once a week i am confronted with men old enough to be my father commenting on/trying to touch/eyeing my black female body.

there is something in their attention, too, that is about my youth. the way they comment and gesture suggests that i am, at once, their daughter and their concubine, simultaneously innocent and deviant.

today, one man decided that his avenue to interaction with me would be schooling me on manners. after he sat next to me, staring at me for a number of minutes, i yawned without covering my mouth. i felt warmth near my cheek, and i realized he had raised his hand to almost touch my face! "cover your mouth when you yawn," he said. "you're so pretty!"

i gave him the stinkeye and went back to reading. after assuring me that he wasn't "trying to teach me anything," he decided to model the correct yawning "procedure" with his newspaper. i asked him to leave me alone and promptly called my mother, telling her loudly that there was a crazy man next to me. he continued to stare openly and smile creepily throughout the (too long) SI ferry ride, and to place his coffee cup as near my thigh as possible without actually touching me. he protested when i rose to move away.

why do men, black men who are supposed to be supports in my community, alternately ignore and abuse this idea of me? i can't get the attention of an educated black man under 35 for my life, but granddaddies are in large supply for the position of fetishist.

i don't understand what is both so alluring and off-putting about me. is it my independence? my unwillingness, as one friend put it a few weeks ago, to "pretend to be weak"? is it my personality? my expectations? because none of those things are on display. i don't know how to erase myself enough to lose the attention i don't want and to gain that which i so desire. to be honest, it depresses me to think that i will never be fully attractive to the men that are most attractive to me as myself. it depresses me to think that in order to find a life partner i have to deny parts of myself. it depresses me to think that i either have to give up on finding love, or be willing to define love as old men touching my face without permission on a ferry, or young men cheating on me and refusing to call what they feel love. youth breeds man-boys unready for relationships, and age breeds man-boys who want 25 year olds like the woman i am now, "ripe and fresh."

ugh. what a freaking day.

No comments: