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When Racism Gets In The Way Of Combating Sexism

As much as I can empathize, I will never know what it’s like to be a woman subjected to the uninvited, and in many cases, menacing attention that comes from strange men on the street. On any given street. At any given time. For no other reason besides a man assuming he is well within his right to antagonize a woman no matter his intentions. Just this week, some man asked me for the time and proceeded to follow up with the pertinent question, “What that mouth do?” I wanted to answer, “Curse you out before stabbing you in the throat,” but you know, I can barely afford my student loans, much less a court case.

So even if I am somewhat familiar with the concept of street harassment, it is not on the level that women face — being a man guarantees that. So, I appreciated Hollaback, an anti-street harassment organization,teaming up with video marketing agency Rob Bliss Creative to show exactly how frightening a solo walk on the street can be for a woman. I wasn’t sure every instance featured in that video constituted actual harassment; however, I am a man, and therefore, must listen to what women tell me on the matter than try to “mansplain.”

Now, what I did not appreciate, though, is the obvious racial politics at play in the clip. What immediately stood out about the visual is that it was a White woman harassed by mainly Black and Latino men. Such imagery clearly evokes stereotypical views and fears about men of color. Couple that with one of America’s favorite fairy tales — the scary Black brute terrorizing the sweet and innocent, White women — and one can quickly see why such a video resonated with certain audiences.

 

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