On Being Attacked

Last week we featured an interview with Nijla and Monique, the co-directors of the documentary, Back Up! Concert Diaries. Today, we feature a very powerful poem written by Nijla Mumin.  Her poem reminds us of the fears many of us experience as we walk the streets of DC.

On being attacked

might I hug
my purse close
swiftly
cross the street
crown my head in baseball
caps
clutch a canister of pepper
spray in one hand
clinch the other into a
fist
upon the sight of
bare backed brown boys
no more than
17 years

might I tiptoe past liquor
stores breath deep
when I spot
baggy pants brown boys
bickering on street corners
might I tack my mouth
shut with silence
upon a brown man’s
greeting
or smile wide for his
approval to walk
down the street

I don’t
know

because one brown boy
one shirtless
bare backed brown boy
coulda been my cousin- brown boy
played tug of war with my
body
ripped my Frida Kahlo purse
in half

I held on

while one brown
boy
kicked my stomach
dragged me across the
sidewalk while the
concrete grated
skin
headphones yanked
from my ears
as I yell
HELP ME
two brown
girls
coulda been my sisters- brown girls
stand entranced
as if watching a
silent film

down the alley
and that brown
boy still not
done
he wrings out my ripped
purse like a wash cloth
dropping items like an angry
flower girl
would drop
petals
my camera
maxi-pads
this tablet
of paper

now
I see his face
in the salmon pink
scar plastered on
my elbow
the tiger stripe
scars on
my back
and even when I walk
out of the house

he’s there

laughing
like he
coulda been my cousin
or a friendly neighbor
whose mother I might
borrow sugar
from

so might I
hate
all brown men
bragging on street corners
bare backed and
smiling

no

I just
be
one
brown woman
trying to
walk down
the street

3 Responses

  1. Raevyn
    | Reply

    That was incredibly powerful. Thank you.

  2. Gabriela
    | Reply

    Wow. Passionate and resonant!

  3. Honore
    | Reply

    Very moving. Keep doing your thing

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