i hate myself even as i do it.

"excuse me sister can i ask you a question."

a quick nod no and i never even slow, never make eye contact.

and my gut doesn't send me danger signals but i'm well trained. i don't talk to strangers. especially strange men. especially at night.

and he probably just needed directions.

but i walked steadily on, my eyes focused on the end of the bart station…further and further away from the line of waiting taxis and the low watt light.

he said thank you very much. no sarcasm. not even resignation. and it was his polite thank you that cut me deepest.

a black man asking a question and i don't even, can't even, stop to find out what he needs.

protect self.

and so i walked on. walked home as vigilant as ever. every car a potential danger, every doorway a possible threat.

but beyond the streetlight shadows that race me home a man walked into the bar station looking for answer i didn't even contemplate giving him…

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