Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Unearned Freedom

Rounding a curve during a lunchtime walk, 

a woman drove by,


a double-take, focusing her gaze to my left upper thigh.

I looked down to my hand swinging there, holding my cell phone, 

and realized the sun was reflecting off of the device

catching her attention. 

In the short time it took me to notice, she’d driven on.

While I walked, I thought 

about that momentary alert on the woman’s face, and what it might have meant 

were my skin a different color or my hair a different texture. 

My body not within her norms.

If I didn’t present as a cisgendered white person. 

Would the appearance of metal shimmering in my hand, 

catching attention, 

have turned her alert to further reaction? 

Would she have assumed a weapon? 

Called the police? 

Cornered me with her car? 

Possibly not. But quite possibly. 

That uncertainty, that possibility.

Because of who I am, and who I am not, 

I don’t head out for my walk fearing. 

I don’t think 

to take the precaution 

to keep my cell phone—any object—

out of my palm. 

My unearned freedom, everyone’s right though

denied, to feel safe in one’s body.

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