She played rugby and was big as hell—one of those corn-fed, meat-and-potato girls who looked like she spent her summer vacation stacking potato sacks in the fields, then eating her weight in carbs at dinnertime. That didn’t stop me from getting all up in her face, though—all 101 lbs, 5’ 1” of me.
She had taken my wet clothes out of the communal washing machine in our dorm laundry room, see, and put them on top of the dirty dryer so that she could wash her own load—and, um, yeah, homie didn’t play that. And that’s basically what I said, give or take a couple dozen cuss words and a call for her to bring it outside if she kept insisting on not apologizing.
Let’s just say the girl wasn’t phased.
Let’s just say I was happy she didn’t take me up on the call-out, because she would have Whooped. My. Ass.
Still, though I came thisclose to being squashed like a bug, it didn’t stop me from breaking bad whenever I felt wronged—speaking up and out when I thought someone had crossed the line and needed to be checked. Though I’m not nearly as loud as I was at 18, I assure you that I’m still not one for mincing words—which pretty much makes me no different from a host of other black women who haven’t a problem saying what’s on their minds, and wielding their words like a weapon.
But a racially-charged assault in Morrow, Georgia last week really made me take pause and reconsider just when, where, and how I should be using my Wu Tang Clan-styled, Samurai word swords. A young Army reservist mom, who had politely asked a stranger to excuse himself after nearly hitting her 7-year-old daughter in the face with a door as he rushed out of a Cracker Barrel, was brutally punched, stomped, cursed, and called all kinds of “nigger” and "bitch" by the man she checked—in front of her child!—an assault local NAACP officials are demanding be considered a hate crime. Troy D. West (that's him in the picture up top), the nut that assaulted Tiffany Hill was charged with misdemeanor battery, disorderly conduct and cruelty to children — a felony cruelty to children charge was dropped — but the Clayton County district attorney says she may file more felony charges. The FBI is also investigating whether a hate crime occurred. West is free on bail.
By all accounts, Hill was respectful and polite when she told the man to watch out. I know plenty of women—specifically, African American women—who would have cussed him out for nearly hitting the baby and not apologizing. Ditto for the guy who repeatedly slapped a crying 2-year-old in a Wal-Mart in Stone Mountain, Georgia after warning the child’s mother that if she didn’t “shut up” the little girl, he would. You don’t get to hit/slap/look hard at a black child when her mama is lurking somewhere nearby, just waiting for a reason to open up a can of verbal whoop ass.
Thing is, with all the snarling, angry, half-crazy, desperate, on-the-fringe nuts parading across my television screen and newspaper everyday, it’s becoming painfully clear that all-too-many people are on the edge and willing to jump—no matter how big the bark being lobbed at them, no matter the consequences. The world increasingly is becoming one full of crazies who, provoked or no, aim to hurt others for no reason other than that they can. What’s worse is that they’re doing it in front of—and in the case of the Wal-Mart incident, to—children.
I have to admit that after reading about these two incidents, I’m a little bit more loath to pop off at the mouth at people who transgress against me and mine. Because now that I have babies to protect, I’m pretty clear that there are plenty of nuts out there who might be more than willing to hurt us, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I can’t fight all of them in any meaningful way (despite the stereotype that in-your-face, angry black women can kick ass, you can rest assured a vast majority of us don’t have the physical fight to match the decibels we reach in our good, old fashioned cuss outs). Not saying that the Army mom was in the wrong or had the beat-down coming; clearly, she was respectful and had every right to speak up without being hit for it. But really, is it ever safe to demand manners from a stranger who angrily stomps past and almost hits a child with absolutely no care in the world for the girl’s safety and well-being? Similarly, is it ever safe to stay in the aisle with a crazy who threatens to “shut up” your child “if you don’t?”
I mean, my balls just don’t hang that low. (Unless Nick is with me. But he’s been warning me for years to stop depending on him to regulate after I pop off at the mouth.)
I don’t know—just food for thought: The world is full of can’t-get-right people just itching to do you and the babies harm; better to let them stomp off and exert their crazies somewhere else while you explain to your children that he/she is certifiably insane, rather than let the babies see it first hand.