Essay: “15 Things Women Should Do When Bumping into a racist, bigot, &/or misogynist” by jacklyn janeksela

Do not devalue a list that could save your life. Feel free to follow one of more of these steps in any order; do not hesitate to follow them all. We need to support each other in any way possible. And when I say we, I am not talking about anyone in the Trump camp or of poisoned mind; that is not the we that has anything to do with me or you, boo. That I know. I mean we like in family, like the family we create outside of our biological one; the family that we pick and choose along the way because sometimes blood spills all the way out and trickles into the nearest drain; garbage, wasted, spoiled. When left alone. When left alone we build on our own. I also mean family of ancestral proportions because sometimes you’re lucky like that and you were born to real humans. How can I help my dear, lovely humans, my WOC, QTWOC, LGBTQIA+, & POC? I can write. And I can write speaking truth & using all the hearts that I have in this very moment; and I can call upon the universe to see if it will grant me a little more because compassion is what we need to live on and not much else.

Use the buddy system

Girl, you should not be going out alone, period. Nope. No excuses. There’s a Google doc floating around about using the buddy system in New York City. If there’s not one where you live, make one. If you don’t know how to make one or don’t have the time, ask someone to help you. Be the one to make that document, boo. You should not think about going anywhere without a buddy or without telling someone where you’re going. Document that shit, please. And you should always have your phone on you, fully charged and in proper working order which means camera and video functions in tiptop and at one hundred. When you absolutely cannot have a real human buddy, your phone will have to do, but in reality, you should opt for a human being if possible.

Evaluate an escape route

Wherever you are, be observant. Take a look at your surroundings, look at everything critically, look at everything in the sense that it should to be of service to you somehow if not of full support. Be aware that some things will be ready to hurt you, don’t over or underestimate, just observe. Where is the closest door or window? If you’re using public transportation, how can you get off quickly without harming yourself or others? Where can you go to protect yourself? Are there evacuation routes or tunnels? Are there shelters or safe zone nearby? Do those places even exist anymore and if they do can someone please, put a link at the end of this article. You should know this; I should know this. Each time you go somewhere, you should know the safe spaces that are nearby—whether officially named or a public area where you can be with other and others who would be willing to help you. You should make friends with friends and know where they live. Someone has gotta have an app for that and if not, could someone make one, please? In advance, we thank you for saving lives.

Take a step back

This only means to evaluate the situation, not like you’re taking a step back as in ready to flee, although some situations will call for that, rather you’re using your head and heart in conjunction to optimize your ability to leave the situation unscathed. You want to gauge this ignorant fool. You want to know if he’s the all-bark-and-no-bite type, you want to see if he’s super cray like legitimately so, you want to see if he’s got friends with him and if he looks armed or if he’s already got an anxious fist pumping or foam at the mouth. Try to look as if you are on the outside looking in. You’re sizing him up, you’re weighting your options. Can you take him? How can you take him down if need be? Are you equipped with those skills? What can you do to leave this situation unharmed and alive? Taking a step back will also give you a moment to be calm in the face of such hatred and immorality. If mentally and emotionally possible, this step is the different between acting without thinking and acting while thinking.

Look for more buddies

While you have taken a step back, you should also be checking out those around you. Are any of them allies? Could some of them have your back quite literally? Are any of them already privy to what’s happening or do you need to make it known? Not sure? No one really stand out to you? Well, ask. Call out for help. Ask if there is an ally in your midst. Ask if anyone is willing to fight for compassion and the innocent body of a black or brown woman. Ask if anyone wants to combat hatred in the flesh. Don’t be afraid, speak up. Without your voice, what’s happening might not be clear or obvious to those around you. You know people get caught up in their phones and whatnots. Don’t assume others see what’s going on—let that shit be known. Go stand next to someone who you think could help you. Stand next to another woman who looks like you or stand next to a big ass dude. Find a space where you can be supported. Lawd almighty, there’d better be someone there to help—what in the fuck is this world coming to? However, if no one comes to your rescue (assholes, cowards, & minions of hatred), get on the phone and call for help. Do not call the fucking police. Call a real person, a living, breathing human person—is there a friend or family member in the neighborhood where you’re at right now? If all else fails call on the gods, the spirits, the orishas—whoever you trust to put forth effort for you right now. Let them fill your being with a magnificent light; with the power to make it through another day.

Check your bag

There’s gotta be something in there that can be used as a weapon. Girl, you are resourceful—an aluminum water bottle, of which all y’all earth-loving, peace-loving females should have (I’m just saying, if we gonna preach peace for each other, we gotta preach peace for the planet, too, boo), a glass bottle, a perfume bottle, body spray, a mirror (break that shit and use the shards, girl, get creative), keys between the fingers, pens & pencils (let’s hope recently sharpened). It depends on what you got swimming around that bag of yours, but surely there should be something in there that can be used to protect you; and if there’s not, you should consider carry anything to fight you that good, I-wanna-live fight. At this point, many of us should be carry pepper spray, mace, or any other acceptable weapon that won’t get us into any trouble should we be asked by an authority to check out bags. Beware: bag checks are a thing and rumor has it they could only get worse. If a small knife is legal where you live, carry it. If a Taser is legal, carry it. If you feel comfortable with a gun and it’s legal, carry it. Arm yourself. These times are not to be played with; don’t play with your life—take that shit seriously. Don’t think it won’t be you because it could and it can and in many cases, it already has been you.

Breathe, keep your cool

Breathing is key to control our emotions and keep us thinking at optimal levels. Right now, you don’t want to panic. You want to be cool as cats and cucumbers put together. You want to be able to summon the gods and angels and demons to rain down on your behalf. You want to recall any and all self-defense moves you might have learned. You want to outsmart this mother fucker. There’s always the calm before the storm; then let that storm fall all the way down and smite all those racist, bigoted rapists till they tremble under the glorious thunder and lightning. Even if you are about to do something, don’t let it be known. Do that sneak attack shit. Do that low-key, you don’t know what I’m about shit. Do that I’m fighting for my sacred life shit. Take a few deep breaths, count them if you can. Count while you breath. Try to decrease cortisol in the body, don’t let stress take over and win, but use it to your advantage. If you’re too hype or panicked, adrenaline might ruin things. You want to be as level-headed as possible. Be better than the fool that’s trying to attack you. Of course, all this depends on your situation. Sometimes there’s no room for breathing and then someone is gonna get hurt.

Go buck

Depending on the situation, you might have to get crazy on dat ass. The best way to beat crazy is with crazy. It’s about outwitting crazy, the crazy that is in front of your face right now threatening your body, your safety, your life—let that crazy shudder at your own crazy. To defend all of that foolishness, you might have to play the part. Get ready for it. Conjure the spirits, girl, conjure all those men who have previous hurt you, all those men who have used and abused you—use their memory as a conduit for which to release all of your crazy rage on this fool right here. Start screaming, throw a tantrum, speak in tongues, run in circles, break some shit, take out your earrings, start spitting and foaming—do what you can. Basically, you are trying to outshine his demon. You are pulling an exorcism without the perpetrator’s realization. You buck as fuck, but you are not about to get fucked or fucked over or fucking dead. Sometimes crazy trumps crazy. Let that be known. Don’t be shy, don’t be embarrassed and don’t look at this as punking out—this is called survival of the fitted and this fool ain’t fit to live no more.

Engage, speak your mind

Staying quiet is not an option when at this point we’ve got to fight fire with flame. Don’t get all nervous and clam up. Say how you feel. Let this villain know that you will not be prey, that you will not cower in the presence of such evil, that you are not intimidated. You, dear one, are a survivor. If it’s possible, try to use logic, compassion, and sympathy. If that’s not an option, then say what you must, but avoid stooping to his level, avoid any name-calling or offensive language. However, if that’s how you roll, then do you, boo. And if it’s necessary go at it. Ain’t no one here judging you. And no one should because until confronted with such a situation, one never knows how one will react. Call him out. Call a racist a racist, a bigot a bigot, a rapist a rapist. Let the world know, let him coil with fear and shame and the possibility of real physical, mental, and emotional harm. Let him taste the medicine, two or three spoonfuls if necessary. Staying quiet means he might live another day to prey on another—we gotta let these predators know that they gonna become they prey if they don’t mind their tongues and respect the bodies of others.

Disengage, let that fool alone

Staying quiet is an option when you sense or realize that your life is in immediate danger. Understand that there is a tipping point, notice when it’s been reached and if nothing else can be done, say no more and walk away as soon as possible. If you get a feeling that this fool is so far gone, so full of hatred and ignorance, or so ready to cause harm, then it’s totally in your best interest to walk away. Do not turn your back, do not walk away like that. This is no longer about pride, this is about living another day to fight the good fight, fight for yourself, for your loved ones, for the future of other women just like you. Do not leave the situation in a way that leaves you vulnerable. Leave with another person or stay until the wickedness has gone. This is not a time to make yourself further vulnerable. Stand your ground, but not if what you do or say might provoke more immorality in the damned spirit. Knowing when to engage or disengage is a matter between life and death. Make smart moves. Be one step ahead.

Don’t be scared

Sometimes you just gotta muster all that strength within you and without you. You gotta call on all the spirits and ancestors to battle—with you or on your behalf. You gotta realize that for every woman afraid, there’s one man ready, willing, and anxious to take advantage of her in very ugly ways. Inside all of us is a fearless fighter, she’s been kept silent, in some cases been called a madwoman in the attic. She is both real and mythical; she is part creature and human, she is of this world and of another world. No man can compete with that. Fire that warrior with all you’ve got, let her lose, loosen the chains and let her go to town. Hell hath only an inkling of what a woman’s scorn can really do. Nothing is impossible.

Be scared

Sometimes you gotta feel what you’re feeling and just be scared. In the face of racism, bigotry, and misogyny, and all their results, fear is real. There’s no shame in saying you’re scared. I’m scared. I’m fucking scared. And with good reason. Women have been tortured for centuries. Black and brown women are targeted daily. Black and brown women suffer the most. We learn by looking at history and we learn by avoiding the same mistakes some of our descendants have made. We are taught to be afraid because men have been terrorizing women for so long. Being afraid doesn’t make you less of a warrior, it only makes you an intelligent warrior who want to live yet another day.

Snap (a pix)

Your phone better have space for photos and you’d better be a fast draw. Before you go out, clear some space on your phone; delete whatever photos you don’t need. The minute the phone comes out, the malevolent will become further hostile. You’d better snap then hide that phone away. You’d better ask others around you to take a pix, too. Get everyone nearby involved. Get them all snapping away. Let him feel uncomfortable as fuck. Let him scream and shout and threaten others. Let him wild out. But remember, you want to document this face. You want to post it to keep other females safe. So snap away, but do your best to safe-keep your phone.

Shoot (a video)

Your phone better have video, girl. There’s no sense in walking around on these streets in today’s society as a female if your phone does not have the capability to capture something that is doing or about to do you harm. No ma’am, you’d better not go outside without a working video. If the pix got him fired-up, the video will surely turn steam into spark then blaze. He’s gonna wanna get more intense, no doubt—that’s what beasts do when confronted, they will destroy those around them for their own survival. Little does he know, you feeling the same way; you a beast, too, but a beast for peace and compassion. Keep filming. And as with the pix, get others involved. Call upon others to shoot a video of this nastiness. Call upon others to partake in beating down and stomping out animosity. It’s today or today, act as this is the only opportunity.

Upload, download, and report

Take what you got and upload and download the hell out of it. Ask your friends to share, post it on all the social medias, make a meme, report it. There’s a site for that, right? Don’t hide away from the chance to spread his face, words, and action all over the internet. It’s not about revenge, it’s about identifying him for what he is—a racist, a bigot, and a rapist. It’s about teaching people how to behave and that women will no longer stand for this aggression. It’s about saving another women from this attack should this predator feel the need to repeat his behavior. The internet is a tool that all women should be using—to combat violence against us and to connect to each other to reinforce our efforts. We live in a world where we can create bonds with each other in the name of respect and compassion—let’s use this to our advantage and not back down. Not now, not ever. Keep your energies high and positive, be on alert, and find ways to out this criminal by any means necessary. We are women and no longer playing games.

I’ll leave y’all with this:

“The only thing that white people have that black people need, or should want, is power—and no one holds power forever.” –James Baldwin

Think on that. Rise all the fucking way up, ladies. And read. And educate. And share.

***

jacklyn janeksela is a wolf and a raven, a cluster of stars, & a direct descent of the divine feminine. she can be found @ Thought Catalog, Luna Luna, Talking Book, DUM DUM, Visceral Brooklyn, Anti-Heroin Chic, Public Pool, Reality Hands, The Feminist Wire, Word For/Word, PANK, Split Lip; Stoneslide Corrective Aftermath issue; Civil Coping Mechanism anthology A Shadow Map; & Outpost19 Rooted anthology; & elsewhere. she is in a post-punk band called the velblouds. her baby @ femalefilet. her chapbook fitting a witch//hexing the stitch forthcoming (The Operating System, 2017). she is an energy. find her @ hermetic hare for herbal astrological readings.

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