I want to ask a few questions for anyone reading today: what triggers fear (of others) for you and what would you have done as me/ my summer roommate.
Last summer I was subletting an apartment on the Upper West Side (86 & Columbus). Every day I walked to the subway two avenues over to get on the 1 train. Along the walk to and from work, I saw people of color. But they were usually the doormen of buildings and/or nannies. Over time it really started to grate on me and I started to dread the long walk to and from the train. I never got the head nod or other signs of affirmation typically excepted in those scenarios.
One day with keys in hand after work (it was still light out), I came up to my summer apartment (there was no doorman) behind a woman who had entered the first door of two doors to get into the building. The woman in front of me before she would open the second door said “Excuse me, do you live here?”
I dryly said “Yeah, I do.” I unlocked the second door, walking past her, and stomped my feet up the stairs until I reached my door. I closed it with a slam as she was heading to the apartment above.
*Knock Knock* I heard a few minutes later. It was her. She had come down to apologize and said “She didn’t mean anything by it.” I shrugged and closed the door again, maybe even saying “sure” dryly again.
My roommate for the summer was sitting on the couch the entire time and said nothing. No acknowledgment of what he had heard. No defense of her or of me. Nothing.
Separately and to this day, every single time I enter a doorman building I am stopped and asked which apartment I’m going to or who am I there to see. In NYC or DC. It always happens. On the UWS or Midtown East or NoMa. It always happens. Even when I had the keys to a friends apartment on the UES, it happened.
So I’m left to ponder the questions from the outset: what about me triggers fear and if you were in my situation (or that of my silent roommate) what would you do. See my cover photo for what I think the answer might be, but…maybe I’m wrong. And can I “fix” this? Should I have to “fix” this? And whose problem is it really?
Part of a 28-day series of reflections, stories and feelings for Black History Month 2017. Read all parts (here).