Keep Your Raggedy Good Morning!

A few weeks ago I had an awful experience with a black guy while commuting to work in the morning, and I wonder if I’m the only one who takes my point of view on this. A guy who seemed to be a street merchant stepped onto the train car that I was riding in, pushing a huge bundle covered in a blanket. After he settled into his seat, he called out to me from across the aisle.
“Good morning, miss!”
I ignored him. I didn’t want to buy anything and I didn’t know him, so I ignored him.
“Hello. I said hello!” He persisted in trying to strike up a conversation with me, but when he realized that I wasn’t going to respond at all, he became belligerent and bitter. He started to loudly berate me for not talking to him, even as I quietly stuck in my iPod ear buds and opened a newspaper. After a while his insults subsided, but not until he carried on and on, causing people to turn and look and forcing me to glare at the newsprint in front. I wasn’t going to change cars, respond to him, or do anything else to validate his ridiculous behavior. I would stand my ground and let this clown know that his behavior was totally unacceptable and that he would not, try as he might, get a response.
At length, he spat out: “Fine then! I take my good morning back!” I wanted to tell that moron that nobody wanted his raggedy good morning in the first place.

I don’t know how anyone else feels about this, but I don’t think I’m obligated to answer to every Hakeem and Tyrone – or any strange man, for that matter — who bellows at me from across the street, down the block or across the aisle of a train. It’s slack. It’s coarse and it’s not the kind of behavior that I or any other woman, should have to tolerate in public. So what if you actually needed to speak to me? What would be the big deal of approaching me in a civil way and saying: “excuse me?”

The fact that he was a street merchant didn’t bother me at all. I’m all for people making an honest living.

It also burns me up that I’ve never noticed any of these Tyrones become openly aggressive and nasty toward white women, at least not to the same degree that they’ve ripped into me. Let me be clear: I don’t want any woman to be harassed in public, and I’m sure that in other parts of America and worldwide, women of all races and nationalities get their fair share of crap from out-of-order men. But why is it that in the New York/New Jersey area, only the “brothers” take that kind of liberty with black women? Further, why do they reserve their loudest and most public insults for us? Are they kept in check by the fear retribution should they offend a white woman, but not if they are profane and belligerant with a black woman? If that’s the case, then American society needs some major pruning.

I also wonder: Do Hispanic or Asian women get similar dressing downs from their men? Even if that were the case, it would be unacceptable.

Now, before anyone is tempted to think I’m being overly harsh on black men, just know that I won’t hedge my comments by saying that there are good black men milling around in public. Of course I know that! I’ve had plenty of brief and pleasant chats with black men who looked decent and have approached me accordingly. If they politely hold a door open for me or offer me a seat on the train, I accept politely and we each get on with our day. Anyway, how stupid would it be to write a post complaining about respectable black men?!

Obviously, I have a problem with the guys out there who act like idiots, and those people are the focus of this post. I want to hear what you all think. Am I asking too much here? Shouldn’t the Tyrones of the world get some damned social skills so that women will feel at ease while riding the trains, walking the sidewalk or what have you?

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6 Responses to “Keep Your Raggedy Good Morning!”

  1. You’re not asking too much. They think we OWE THEM SOMETHING. It really pisses me off. You know if you would have said hi, then the next response would have been; “Do you have a man?” This pretty much always happens. I get tired of it. When did me saying “Hi”, mean you can get in my business? Sometimes you just can’t be nice.

  2. You’re better than me. I don’t think I could’ve remained silent there. Standing ground is one thing, but damn, I’m just not zen enough, I’d have wanted to light into him for that ruckus.

  3. SaschaB … I agree; sometimes it doesn’t pay to be nice, especially when the other person feels entitled to behave in any way they want. I’m still trying to figure out just the right shutdown for guys like this.

    Jeff … I came this close!

  4. Why didn’t you just say hi back?

    I’m a black female and I’ve had plenty run ins with men who act like idiots. After reading this, I don’t understand why you just didn’t speak back.

    Now that doesn’t excuse his actions but your actions weren’t good either.

    Maybe he wanted something from you? Maybe he didn’t?

    Maybe he was just being polite and speaking.

    Is it too much to think that some black men are actually just being nice. I’ve had black men to speak to me as I was walking past in the store and that’s all they wanted, was to speak.

    It’s called being polite. You could learn something!

    This is my first time posting on anything like this, so I won’t be coming back. Just my 2cents!:)

  5. I have to agree with the previous poster. Your response was unnecessarily rude but this post is even worse.

    It’s really sad that things like this come from people who “promote” interracial relationships. Then you guys wonder why there are so many ignorant people who criticize your love. It’s because YOU all are ignorant yourselves.

    It doesn’t matter than you didn’t care if he was a street merchant. Why did it matter than he was black at all? How do you know that a similar man who happened to be white wouldn’t have responded the same way? Then to refer to people as “Tyrones” and “Hakeems?” Are you serious?

    I have no problem with interracial relationships, but as time goes on I’m starting to see how pathetic some of you all really are. Why do you have to say things like this? It makes all other IR lovers look bad. It’s funny how black men get so much flack for loving outside their race, if only people knew how “bad” it was with black women.

    Let me guess, were you one of the ones who made a goal out of your spouse’s race?

    • Hello BritRob. Thanks for reading.

      In my view, the post was entirely acceptable and for many reasons. This merchant was only one of a string of men who have behaved really poorly toward me, and I think my experiences are representative of a particular problem. The issue should continue to be raised until the behavior changes. Public areas are a tough place to make cold sales, and it is one of the first lessons this merchant should have learned before he decided to go out into world to ply his wares. In the true harshness of it, rejection is part of life, and his in ability to handle rejection with civility and SOME attempt at professionalism did him in that morning.

      As for my references to “Tyrones” and “Hakeems,” get over it. I am calling out specific behavior, from specific guys, who behave in a particularly disgraceful way, and do so repeatedly. There is a pattern, and it exists between black men and black women. There is a lack of basic decency and respect out there, and it happens far too often for my taste. At least I’ve pinned a name on these individuals, given them some modicum of an identity. That’s more than what they’ve accorded to me, calling me at the very least, “bitch.” Class-y. Furthermore, why so touchy, BritRob? Almost everyone uses the phrase “every Tom, Dick and Harry,” to paint a broad brush over common riff-raff. And believe you me, these men are riff-raff. During these confrontations, I usually try to walk away, yet I get followed, subjected to loud, prolonged public verbal thrashings, getting called “bitch.” Even young guys standing at a train stop in an inner city setting have turned around and dropped their jaws at the way these people behave. Once, my cousin was being similarly harassed and a guy intervened (let’s leave his race out of it; you might accuse me worshiping certain men) stepped in front of her and told her assailant to back off. And he stood there until the guy was safely out of sight. This happened in midtown Manhattan! BritRob, you either have no idea of how poorly these guys behave, or you don’t care. Either way, the post stands and without apology.

      My interracial marriage, which you unnecessarily brought into the discussion along with the customary name calling, was not he issue. Really, I’m not the ignorant or pathetic one here. Further, my blog does not promote interracial marriage for Black women, and I’ve said as much in previous posts. It’s just a blog that follows the lifestyle of my interracial family. Since you are obviously very judgmental, I leave it to you to ferret out the blogs that do proselytize Black women to the IR “cause.” You will see the difference.

      One never knows where the wind blows in life, and I could just have easily ended up marrying a Black man. To speculate that I specifically targeted a white man for marriage is an embarrassment for you, since you have not taken the trouble to read much of my blog, or address this issue with a remotely open mind. But I assure you, BritRob, that had I married a black man, he would NEVER have been a hair below the clean-cut, well-spoken, gainfully employed, decent type of guy I hang out with and to whom I am related. My crowd doesn’t behave the way these guys do. They do not have hair-trigger tempers and proceed to berate women in public places who chose not to greet them back. They wish them well and move on. I never hear about them harassing anyone for any reason. I keep company with brothers, not necessarily solely what some might insultingly call an “oreo,” but definitely not a scrub.

      Public civilities matter. And I draw a very bright line of distinction between the people to who use them and those who do not. Good day.

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