Saturday, September 14, 2013

Why walking at night is a Black oxymoron

I can't take heat.  When it's super humid, I avoid going outside as much as possible because I sweat like someone has dumped a bucket of water on my head even if I'm standing still.  So, the logical choice is to go for my power walks at night time once it's cooled off and my kids are asleep.  

The problem with that is that I am Black and unfortunately, Black people still have such a bad reputation that people who are also out walking their dogs or going for a walk themselves all respond to me like I'm "up to something".  Yes, you heard me right!  In full yoga gear and carrying a water bottle, every single time I have gone out for a walk, someone either crosses the street to get away from me or looks at me with fear until I pass.  

This is an extremely sad commentary on the state of affairs in the world if I feel like I'm doing something wrong by walking around my block. 

I do not live in a "bad part of town".  I live in a nice community with seniors, young families and diverse cultural groups.  That's why it bothers me so much.  How would you feel if you were greeted with suspicion by doing something as ordinary as going for a walk?

To my fellow People of Colour, we really have to work hard to change this persistent negative perception.  

Honestly, I have never been in trouble with the law, have never lived in a ghetto, know which fork to use first in a five-star restaurant and appreciate the quality of classical music.  As such, I will continue to walk at night and if I pass you walking, in between the rivulets of sweat pouring from my head, I will say hi to you.  Don't be afraid; I walk in peace.