P.S.A: Quit the Gimme, Gimme

Lying, spitting, and smoking make it to my Top 5 Pet Peeves list. There’s another that REALLY irks me, but I don’t hear too many others complaining about it.

Borrowing.

I got a lot of reasons to dislike this (and i’m fully aware I only listed 4 peeves). To the point where I’ve established a no-borrowing policy that I often re-iterate to those who ask me. Maybe you find this selfish. “But what’s wrong with helping others if you have it?”

I won’t say that I NEVER do it. I’ve grudgingly obliged at times when family members REALLY needed it. But I strongly believe against it and I don’t do it myself because I believe it’s a selfish thing to ask of somebody, ESPECIALLY since 99% of the time, they don’t REALLY need it.

Remember the current economic climate of our country, with the majority of us living paycheck-to-paycheck, and an overwhelming many collecting roommates and AirBnB-ing our extra spaces for additional income. A rich man likely won’t notice some missing funds; do they even online bank regularly? But if you ask the average American to borrow $100, it’s not exactly a small amount of money to temporarily part with. It’s exactly BECAUSE of our country’s economic climate that when emergency expenses pop up, we’re unprepared. Unexpected accidents, random government bills and unpredictable circumstances do arise, yes. And I get it; sometimes you just don’t have it and if your credit is also shot, you’re in a bad spot. Good financial responsibility dictates that one SHOULD have an emergency savings account for things like this, but understandably, it’s difficult to build one up. But I can count on one closed fist the amount of times people have asked to borrow money from me that were actual emergencies.

You’re going on a cruise and forgot to budget in your flight to the cruise so you can make it to your vacation? Not an emergency.

You want to visit some dude you’ve been seeing but don’t have enough money for the Metro North ride so you asking me? Not an emergency. (Why isn’t the guy paying for you??)

Your sister (who I never met) is asking to borrow money from YOU because she’s already borrowed too much from ya’lls parents and YOU don’t have it to lend her so you asking ME to lend to YOU to lend to HER? Helll nahhh, KEEP ME OUT THAT DAMN CIRCLE PLEASE.

When did we become so entitled to asking people to part with their hard-earned cash (and trust me, if you work in today’s world, it’s hard-earned) for our frivolities? And so selfish that we’re not even ashamed to do so?

Those who borrow like it’s nothing: How do you think the person who has the money you’re borrowing from, has it at all in the first place? Maybe they got this good ass job with an awesome salary so they have a cushy bank account. That could be it. But more than likely (since most of us DON’T have that), they’re practicing the good financial habits you’re not. They’ve put in the work to build up a savings account to have for emergencies. Their emergencies, not yours. They’ve cut back on the things you didn’t. They’ve stopped eating out as much or ordering take-out, made a conscious effort to buy less shoes and clothes, fancy lattes and liquor. They budgeted and went without some things they wanted to attain some non-paycheck-to-paycheck security for themselves.

THAT. SHIT. IS. NOT. EASY.

And this is why, when you come with your hand out after you bought all the shit we’ve restrained ourselves from buying, it’s a slap in the face. Because even though we know it’s easier to spend than save, we’ve done the hard part of sacrificing, not through magical superpowers but by exerting self-control, and you could damn well do the same too. But you choose not to because you’d rather have the things you want when you want them, without sacrifice.

Do you ever think that the person you’re borrowing $200 from now has $200 less to manage in their bank account even if they’re getting it back in a month or so? Probably not. But imagine someone came to you and borrowed $200. The fact that you have to borrow yourself, means you’d be in quite a jam and something essential probably ain’t getting paid that month. We all have the same bills. Rent, food, electricity, transportation. Some choose to have excess bills they can’t keep up with. Some WITHOUT these bills still find the need to borrow. The only person I’ve ever borrowed from really was my mom. And that was to help pay off my student loans. A decade ago.

I went through that struggling period that most of us do, where I was overworked on a $450/biweekly paycheck, making ends meet off a retail cashier’s paycheck. And not once did I ask to borrow some extra cash to “have a good time.” I saw coats I fell in love with that I couldn’t buy (damn you Hootenanny). Restaurants I couldn’t eat at. Events I could not go to. I sunk into a pit of depression, then worked my ASS off to crawl out it, because it was not someone else’s responsibility to make those things happen for me. And I didn’t WANT anyone to feel SORRY for me and give me a handout either.

Let’s not act not like we all don’t want to go on that vacation. Or get those shoes we really like. Or go out and be a baller one night on the town. We all deserve it. But we shouldn’t be asking people to fund that shit for us as a loan.

I had an ex who asked to borrow money from me for everything: weed, liquor, cat food, groceries, a new $200 watch to look good on vacation, dinners out, a cabin rental for HIS friends to hang out, a new video game that he couldn’t wait until the end of the month to get. I even funded multiple trips for us where I picked up the tab on everything up front (Universal, Otakon, Boston) simply because he didn’t have it. He never did. God forbid if I hadn’t been on top of my money and an emergency had happened (and there were a few) we would have been up shit’s creek without a financial paddle, screwed on rent, screwed on trips, screwed on life. I had to budget for “twos” at all times, as if I was the sole provider of the household and not dating another adult with a higher salary than me. That kind a silent pressure builds up like you don’t even realize the more you get taken advantage of this way.

Now I may feel strongly about this, but I’m not a tyrant. There are innocent reasons to borrow. Maybe you’re out with a friend and they find this *Insert Rare Quest Item* they’ve been after for awhile now and don’t have the money for it on them but goddammit IT’S ON SALE NOW. Perhaps you’re a parent and you find the season’s sold-out “Tickle-Me-Elmo” that will make your kid’s Christmas day in an out-of-the-way store and you can pay your cousin back on the next paycheck if they spot you for it now (that is love). Maybe there’s a trip/event/experience coming up that someone would LOVE, but they didn’t budget for because they didn’t realize it was happening and you want them to join in on the fun too. Maybe your cousin is just having a rough time with life and you just wanna spot them for the night and help them feel better.

But if you’re someone who makes a HABIT of borrowing from others on a consistent basis, you need to re-evaluate your situation because you’re living above your means and counting on others to help support your lifestyle. It means you need to look back and see what you bought the past month that you really didn’t need (and trust me, you WILL find things you did NOT need). And if you’re not willing to do that, and would rather burden someone else with helping you out because it’s the easier route, you are lazy and selfish and unwilling to sacrifice as an adult should.

It annoyed me to no end that my ex would order clothes, indulge in all the world’s vices, insist on ordering lobster dinners and $80 meals on Seamless, then ask me to fill in the salary gaps until he could make it to the next check (why the fuck wouldn’t you budget properly??). Now it’s never my business what others do with their own money (so long as you’re not coming for handouts after you recklessly spent your shit on something stupid). As long as you can handle your business, go crazy; spend all your extra cash on Amiibos, sunglasses, Groupon experiences, premium Patreon packages, whatever. But don’t count on someone else to help you make it through life because of it.

I like where I am in life right now. I work for an awesome remote company. I’m lucky enough to be able to afford my own apartment in NYC without roommates (oh thank God). I’m trying and maybe failing to build up a Roth IRA for the future, a savings account for unexpected expenses, and a checking account cushion so that I don’t need to count the days till my next paycheck. I avoid fancy restaurants, try to cook at home as much as possible to save money, and leftovers are my life. I don’t buy expensive handbags or shoes, and shop at places mostly when the 50% off sales are going on, unless it’s Marshalls, TJ Maxx, or Forever 21 (and I still go for the clearance sections there). I know when to NOT buy that $3 hot dog or soft drink off the cart vendors or at the gourmet deli because the cart or bodega two avenues down got it for $1-$2 less (Don’t buy sodas from 7-11 in New York, guys, it ain’t worth it!!).

I’m not jet-setting around the world (unless my job is sending me), but I try to plan a vacation on my own maybe once a year. And hell, that only started a year ago. And I’m not hitting the bars or clubs every Friday at the end of the week racking up $100 bar tabs. I’m frugal with my spending so that when I see something I REALLY want or something I would LOVE (or when the stupid medical bills come in from that thing you didn’t really need to go in for), the money is there for me. Not the person who wants to borrow it from me. I attained a level of independence for myself so I could remain self-sufficient and rely on no one; not so I could play the Monopoly banker making sure there’s enough for everyone else’s luxuries.

I never expect a standard from anybody that I don’t live up to myself. I live below my means so I don’t owe anybody shit.

Pun intended.

Remember that old line adults always told you growing up? “You can’t always have everything you want.”

We grew into adults and became borrowers and forgot.

~Tael

Girl. Gamer. And?

It’s like we’ve regressed while evolving. A month ago when I went to Otakon, I met a transgender individual who shared that some of their female friends who game have gone through some pretty negative experiences with the male gaming community; to the point where they now hide their gender on forums and social media, and are treated fine until somehow the bomb drops that they’re female. When I was growing up, gender in gaming was never a thing, so why is it now?

As a casual gamer, it’s been amazing to ride along the gaming world’s journey. I started out with my very own Sega Genesis at age 7. ALL of my cousins gamed, boy and girl. And when their friends came over, we all gamed together still. There was never any “Girls can’t play” or “Boys club” nonsense. We practiced Mortal Kombat finishing moves on each other, sped through Sonic levels, and bullet-barraged in GoldenEye as equals. We chainsawed Tediz in Conker, helped snag difficult stars in Super Mario 64, and woke up rubbing the crust from our eyes first thing bright and early to grab the controller and take down Wizpig in Diddy Kong Racing.

Going through middle school, gaming was definitely still considered a nerdy hobby, so it wasn’t really broadcast much. We stayed under the radar so as not to become targets. I kept it hidden behind the scenes, indulging with my family and my bestie, who could be counted on to marathon Super Mario World with me in one night, being overly cautious not to accidentally nudge the glitchy console in any way, lest the save not work properly after having played for hours. I quietly played my RPGs in the safety of my room and found gaming companions in AOL chat rooms. I ducked my head in my GameBoy in isolated corners of the school yard.

In high school (and I admit, the fact that my H.S. population was 75% Asian could have something to do with it) it became much more socially accepted. Dedicated teams set up YuGiOh and Magic rounds religiously every day after school in the cafeteria. I encountered my first IRL Zelda fan who loved to share tips on Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. I got invited to a birthday party where we each built our own mini-Gundams to take home (Deathscythe, baby). Gamer T-shirts and swag became more widespread.

College came and my love of Smash Bros. continued to blossom. I formed a purely battle relationship with a dude who’d come around to visit his girlfriend down the hall, and always dropped in just to play a few rounds and demolish me. In fact, there were quite a few Elite Smashers in college, and I was surprised at how many others loved it too! I befriended another girl who beasted in Smash and we took down our friends in Team Battles. And then there were other gamers still, happy to lend their assistance to the excruciatingly tedious puzzles of Prince of Persia or MarioKart training, or collaboratively get back to Funkatron in Toejam & Earl.

The gamer’s life had become a breeze of approval. Twitter wasn’t even a thing back then. Is that why everyone was so nice and accepting? Because in-person, things are different? Because a lot of people gain that web-courage, when they’re behind a screen? Or because the younger generations are more likely to be douchebags now?

Once again, I may have been caught in some kind of bubble (I’m starting to believe myself to be a unicorn in life). I was never once called out for my gender. I was never once interrogated, scrutinized, laughed at, harassed, or belittled for being a girl and having this hobby. It wasn’t considered a “cool” thing to do or pretend to like. It wasn’t a trend, as nostalgic things tend to be now. It was strictly a hobby, done for your own individual entertainment. A gamer was a gamer.

It’s interesting to see a hobby I once kept on the low explode into something that can make you Internet-famous now. But it’s also great to see how much more open and accessible the gaming lifestyle is now. I LOVE that I can find controller earrings on Etsy, Triforce handbags on Amazon, support indie artists geeky tee and hoodie designs, actually be a part of a gaming community on social media, connect with Smashers just by logging into the network on the WiiU, and pop up on the Tetris Friends site for a bit of mind-numbing block-dropping. I love that bars are incorporating arcades, Nintendo World at Rockefeller Center is a thing, Pokemon is still going strong, “It’s dangerous to go alone, take this,” has become a meme, and retro-fans recognize and appreciate the question-mark tattoo on my shoulder.

20170928_231443As a casual gamer, (and I’m not speaking for the industry side of things) I don’t feel like women are marginalized any more so than anywhere else. Are there hypersexualized characters in gaming? OF COURSE. Hypersexualization of women is everywhere in the world. We can’t expect it to magically not be in this particular medium. Grand Theft Auto is not meant to be a respectable game (you are absolutely an asshole protagonist), Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball does nothing anime doesn’t already do, yes, Lara Croft is known for having large breasts in the Tomb Raider series, that was their thing, and also seeing Valentina’s boobs jiggle when you attack her in Super Mario RPG is hilarious (because they do jiggle in real life sometimes). But how can we forget about the numerous other female roles over the years? Easy-going Jade from Beyond Good & Evil. Calculating Bellena from Skies of Arcadia (which also happened to have two female co-protagonists). Battle-worthy warrior Marta from Tales of Symphonia 2 (because Lord knows Emil needed to grow a pair) as well as the power-hungry, pint-sized sadistic Alice who put fear in even the largest man’s heart. Xelha from Baten Kaitos was one of my least favorite female characters, mostly because I didn’t find her cute at all. Yeah, sounds horrible, but I like my characters to be cute. I much preferred Mizuti with her crazy mask and garbled voice, who everyone was shocked to find out late in the game that she was a girl anyway. Because if a character is not going to be cute, they should at least be cool and have some depth to them. I see Twitter highly in favor of the fact that Twintelle from Arms has an ass. Sexualization or adaptation of the latest fit and trendy body-type?

Having that knowledge dropped on me at Otakon, that one would have to hide their gender orientation around the community they love to participate in, left me surprised, even though I’ve heard stories before. Over the Internet. I’ve just never heard a real-life story from twenty-somethings in person. I was certain there’s the chill, accepting, mature generation of gamers who love the hobby in person (because don’t Millennials accept everything accept right-wing conservatism?), and then there’s the Internet-thugging 12-14-year-old virgins experimenting with cursing behind their headsets and safety screens because they’re not ready for the real world. And I’m not threatened by children. To my fellow gaming ladies who have experienced such nonsense as this, I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I’ve been told I can come off as intimidating. Let some little ignorant troll come at me for being a chick who games.

I would skin them. (And trust me, you could probably take them too).

Just saying.

~Tael

Weird Things that Bug New Yorkers

New Yorkers get a bad rap for being unfriendly people. But it’s not that. It’s that because we have a higher population, the odds for more assholes-per-square-inch increase, because, math. And then the rest of us New Yorkers have to deal with the more-assholes-per-square-inch ourselves, so we become accustomed to encountering and dealing with them, and then we believe they’re everywhere here too, which creates a spiraling domino effect that results in the “New York State of Mind.” And if the following things bug you, then congratulations; you’ve officially evolved to an authentic New York State of Mind. 🙂

1. When someone sits directly next to you on a virtually empty train or bus.

New Yorkers are used to people always being around at any given moment, but when it’s not rush hour or a busy period, we grab that moment of solitude and hold on tight.

SidebySide

There is a rule: You do NOT sit next to someone if there’s an available seat NOT sitting next to someone. You do NOT enter the train and sit at the closest available seat next to someone, just because it’s close! You scan the aisle, take a leisurely stroll through the moving car, core engaged (because this will help your subway surfing skills) and pick a nice empty space keeping up the yin/yang of passenger-empty seat-passenger-empty seat. You ONLY break this balance if there is no other option. And if you DO break the balance, and there ARE other options, then yes, those strange waves of vengeful resentment you might be feeling are absolutely directed at you.

2. When someone walks parallel on the sidewalk at the same speed as you.

You’re not friends. You’re not acquainted. And yet, you may as well be holding hands with them. And then you try to speed up, and then they kind of speed up too, and then the awkward level rises…and then the anger level rises cause it’s awkward. And then you need to cross the street because the angry awkwardness is overwhelming you.

AwkwardWalkingPenguin

And then you need to hope they aren’t also crossing the street too. Which leads to…

3. Coincidentally walking the same route as another person.

I’m sure in small towns, you both would giggle and make a joke about how one’s stalking the other, or even strike up some small talk about where you both are going. But in New York, if you’re playing the “Pass That Person” game on the street, but then you both end up waiting at the curb side-by-side for the Walk signal to turn, cross the same street, both turn right, stop at the same bodega for only one thing so you both pay quickly and leave at the same time, and then turn LEFT together (this happened on my walk to the gym this morning, I kid you not) and cruise up the next block trying to act like you don’t realize the other person is still there, or suspecting that they were paid to keep tabs on you…

I don’t like it.

4. Speeding up to cut me off and then immediately walking slowly.

This is most agonizing on stairs. Like if you’re exiting the train and you want to ninja-rush up in double-time, but someone darts in front of you, then proceeds to lumber their way up at an excruciating pace. WHY DID YOU CUT ME OFF THEN? Why was it so important to cut me off so that you could walk slowly?

Your hurried MOVEMENTS do not mean you are progressing quickly.

And then when you try to scurry around them, a barrage of people come trailing down on the other side. Then you and the rest of the line are stuck matching the pace of the lumberer for the whole walk up. And I telepathically communicate to the people behind me, “I would have done better for you.”

5. Sidewalk-spreading.

I chalk this up to some sort of Narcissus complex. You, strolling down the street like you don’t have to get to work, or like it’s not raining really hard, with your arms outstretched (mentally). And maybe your right-hand man is right beside you, but only kind-of sort-of, because you both have to stretch out to make sure you’re taking up the entirety of the sidewalk, and yell your comments to one another across the space in “conversation” as you both saunter your way, making it highly difficult for anyone to zip around you from either side. It’s a declaration. A declaration that you are not aware of anything going on around you.

6. Those who stand on the left side of the escalator.

My very own boyfriend, who is not from New York, told me that outside of the city, the notion that there is a standing side on the escalator AND a walking side is unheard of.

I mean, I get it. Technically, I guess the entire concept of an escalator is so you DON’T have to walk up it at all. You stand and check your phone and have a chat, feet firmly planted as it delivers you to your final destination. But goddammit, this is a city of movers. And if i’m on an escalator, it’s because I have somewhere to be. And in New York, escalators are advanced stairs. And if someone forgets the rule of the standing side and the walking side…well, you could say “Excuse me,” I suppose, and hope they hear you (I have a low voice). BUT HOW DO THEY NOT KNOW THE CODE?? The I-don’t-feel-like-walking people are lining up on the right for a reason. If you’re not, then you’re an obstruction. And I might have to break out the nonchalant bravado and bypass the escalator for the stairs because you’re choosing to be an obstruction.

Ever tried to beat the escalator riders by showing them you can use your legs on the stairs and making it to the top before them?

Ever done it at the Exchange Place Light Rail station in Jersey City?

ExchangeStairs.jpg

My bravado really took a toll on my lungs that time.

Not everyone has a New York State of Mind. The OGs are now outnumbered.

~Tael (OG New Yorker)

Yes, I Still Play Pokemon GO

No, I did not leave the app behind in 2016 with everyone else who jumped off the bandwagon. Why? I’m not a bandwagoner.

The questioning of why those who still enjoy Pokemon GO continue to do so after its popularity declined with “the masses” last year currently tops my list of MOST. ANNOYING. QUESTIONS…

Mostly because…this is what you’re actually asking:

A. Why aren’t we all quitters like you who didn’t simultaneously drink the Kool-Aid and give up at the same time?
B. Why did we all not follow the prescribed time limit that society set and mindlessly follow the rest of the robotic world who dictates what’s popular?
C. Why do I actually enjoy walking? An incredibly healthy and natural thing for your body to do and a great way to stay fit and active?

I would say sorry I didn’t follow the time-limit that the world-gods bestowed upon the sheep that flocked together and stopped playing just cause others left, but I don’t even want to apologize sarcastically for participating in something that takes dedication and keeps me active.

The simple fact is, there are the casuals and there are the hardcores. It was awesome that when the game was first introduced, people from all walks of life participated. I’d be playing alongside gentlemen in business suits, grade schoolers in soccer uniforms, and hot-dog vendors in aprons, all tossing Pokeballs at Psyducks on the screen. It’s quite the achievement to be able to bring together such vastly different demographics, and I give the game props for that.

At some point, the popularity died down, most likely with the coming of winter. The cold season is not exactly conducive to long walks by the pier and chilling in open-air parks by a lure.

But there’s another ridiculously obvious reason the GO-Bandwagoners/Questioners won’t talk about.

IT ACTUALLY INVOLVES WALKING. Which is like…EXERCISE. Which like…MOST PEOPLE DON’T LIKE TO DO!!

In order to rise to the top in this game, you have to WALK. And since statistics confirm that over 50% of America is overweight, it’s probably not a top activity of choice. You don’t see this so much in New York because we’re already a city of walkers. We were walking since before it was cool to do so in an app game; before the Fitbit craze and all that. Pokemon GO simply gave me something to occupy my mind/time WHILE walking; it made a game of it. But I’m fairly certain at least half the people who outgrew interest did so because they realized that in order to be good at it, you couldn’t do it from your couch.

In order to hatch eggs, catch rare Pokemon, battle gyms, acquire the means to power up, BAG THOSE LEGENDARIES, you must walk. You can cheat and be a spoofer, but for the most part the general public is not that tech-savvy, and also, sometimes you get caught, and also, it’s lazy.

PoGOFit

I’d rather play it the right way and be fit af.

If you want to be REALLY good at the game, then you have to walk MORE than the average person. Is it tiring? Duh, it’s exercise. If it’s not tiring, you’re not doing it right. Sometimes your feet hurt. Because it’s walking. And when the masses found out you actually had to WORK somewhat to master this game, well…that’s where the hardcores and casuals get separated.

They probably don’t go to the gym either.

I inadvertently lost 8 pounds last summer playing this damn game. (My gains! *Cries*) I’ve walked over 500 miles in Pokemon GO. Have the GO-Questioners walked over 500 miles NOT playing it? Do they even game outside of this app? Because despite the game’s appeal to everyone, including the non-gaming community, gamers have been Pokemoning it up since Red and Blue. We came into the game already knowing the strengths and weaknesses, that Ground prevails against Lightning, and Dark pwns Psychic and the Poke-Great-Ultra ball stepladder and the evolutions to everything.

Before Pokemon GO, I played Just Dance for cardio for a good 4 versions.  I no longer play, but I would never question those who still stay up to date on the latest releases, because I’ve heard so many stories of Just Dancers shedding pounds just from that game alone. Dancing is fun! And that game can be damn difficult. Not quite in the same league as DDR (and I still worship the ground DDRers stomp on) but still an enjoyable way to get a workout in. Classic. By the logic that we should all stop playing something just because it isn’t popular anymore, there’d be no love for retro gaming, pinball arcades, people would forget Sonic games were once MASTERPIECES, and NES minis wouldn’t be scalped for exorbitant prices. :/

If you think Pokemon GO is played out, and want to ignore the collective of hardcore players in the shadows (Pokemon GO fest, although a failure, sold out in mere HOURS, so SOMEBODY thinks it’s still popular) that’s cool. Ya’ll can stay on the bandwagon with the rest of the sheep, ready to graze on the next big thing society tells you to. In the meantime, the rest of us will be over here getting fit af.

~Tael

 

Mix Hoodies With Black

I tend to have some pretty down-to-earth conversations about racial truths with one of my cousins, who is like a brother to me. They’re never serious, debate-like, haughty, “woke” ones; just some “Damn, shit’s really like this, huh,” ones.

One lovely experience that reinforced the scaffolding of our own invisible prejudice occurred during a trip to Atlantic City for my birthday a few years back that I’ve shared on Facebook before. It was late and dark and the ATM I needed was the drive-thru kind in an empty secluded lot. My cousin instantly put the fear in our party’s hearts by mentioning how one could easily get robbed here. He does this. Like when we went to see “Get Out” on opening night and he said he hoped no white supremacist would come shoot up our theater in protest of the movie. T_T’ Had me looking at white boys with backpacks who couldn’t sit still and the exit routes for half the movie, praying.

The ATM wasn’t constructed in a way where the car could get close; we rolled down the window and I slung half my body out, engaging my core to access the screen and withdraw as quickly as I could. OF COURSE, at that very moment, a black guy with a hoodie enters the lot and seems to make a beeline for our car. Stuck hanging out the window, waiting for the machine to process the withdrawal, while everyone else is giving commentary, “He’s coming closer!” “Did he just pull out a ski-mask?” “LOCK THE DOORS!!” I panic, terrified and fully believing I’m about to get buck-fiftied for my meager checking account balance. I’m not sure if I made it to the part where I actually got the money. I may have just jettisoned myself back into the car and screamed “DRIVE, JUST DRIVE,” without completing the transaction.

Dude walked right past us.

Was our fear justified?

If you were walking down a block at night and saw a group of Black teenagers clustered outside of the projects, would you cross the street to avoid…”something?”

I don’t. Not anymore. I don’t because what am I afraid of? Why should I be afraid to walk past a group of my own race at night? At most, as a woman, to avoid catcalling, but I’d rather show solidarity. When I confidently pass them, they either quiet down or throw out a greeting. I acknowledge them back as fellow humans and keep it moving and the “big, scary moment” is over. I don’t want to fear my own people. If it was a group of White men in suits, there wouldn’t even be a situation up for discussion, my cousin says. Or if it was a group of Asian men.
What if they were wearing hoodies?

“What about Spanish men?” I ask.
“Probably not. A bunch of light-skinned guys don’t look as threatening.”
What if they’re wearing hoodies?
“But your skin is the darkest of all; would you be afraid to walk past a group of you?”

There is not a clear cut answer.

“What if it were Black men in suits?”

Then it probably wouldn’t be an issue either. Everyone loved Men In Black.

What if they were Black but wearing glasses, skater gear, a Nintendo shirt…blahblahblahblahnothoodies, why do what they’re wearing hold so much weight? Why do we trust clothes before people?

I don’t want that ingrained fear that was instilled in me growing up. I’m Black and I wear hoodies. To fear another Black-in-a-hoodie seems silly. I want to break that fear. And so I walk past them, fearless and without judgment. Because we are all people, and we deserve that much. Most especially from our own.

~Tael