It is week 35 of #TWmemorymondays! This memory of mine is probably shared by MANY of you in some shape or form, because I have many others that are similar. If you have, I am SO sorry.
My focus today is addressing what it means to be an ally whether we are talking about race, sexual/gender orientation, sexism, or anything of that nature. So here we go:
A couple years ago, I was on my way home from downtown where I played music during lunch hour at potbelly's. I was waiting for the Redline train - Lake stop. When the train arrived, I entered the doors and saw a girl rush off the train, which was TOTALLY normal. What was just little odd was that no one rushed to take her seat, and everyone (there were probably 6 people standing around that area) kind of stood alittle away from where she was sitting. There was something awkward or uncomfortable in the air.
Next to her seat was this older scrawny man in a long beige coat slightly slouched over. I thought maybe he smelled funny, and that's why people were standing little bit farther...but nothing smelled offensive to me. So I sat down in the empty spot! Like any other person would.
As the train was heading to the next stop, I noticed some movement from the man next to me. I thought that he was searching for something in his pocket, and I felt his hand touch my leg. And to my horror, he was masturbating while touching my leg.
Disgusted and completely horrified, I got up and exited the train immediately when I realized what was going on.
And I remember standing at that train stop feeling shaken up, dirty, and violated. I couldn't believe that just happened. And then it hit me...I felt guilty. I felt guilty for not have said something in that moment and for not calling that guy out publicly.
Ok now in hindsight, I have some thoughts about that awful experience. I feel mad at the people standing around, who clearly saw what happened to me and probably to the girl before me...and they said and did NOTHING. That creep is a sexual offender and needed to be arrested. What he did was illegal!
As someone who had to process all of that in the moment...
I wasn't thinking about how that guy needed to face the consequence of what he did. I was thinking about my immediate safety, and I bolted. In my dream scenario, I would have made a big scene and gotten that guy arrested! But in that situation, it would have been so much easier for the bystander to speak up/do something. (Obviously, at the end of the day the perpetrator has the ultimate responsibility. But back to my point.) To be an ally is where it counts!
My memory really motivates me to be always ready to say/do something when I witness verbal/physical oppression of any kind. It takes risking being misunderstood, mistaken, and disruptive. That's a risk worth taking, right?! So I don't really care how progressive, knowledgable, "woke", you and I are...that actionable piece is where rubber meets the road.
Last thing, if you're white, and you're worrying about being a white savior, speak up and do something anyways. You being misjudged is worth someone else's safety and well being.
#TWmemorymondays: A painting inspired by a memory every Monday of 2018. Connecting abstract art to real life. Week 35/53. 'Ally' / 8x8 in / mixed media on paper