I went for a run yesterday. I have a new pair of running shoes, so it felt like running of puffs of air.
I wanted to shake up my routine so I drove downtown and ran on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. I ran through Falls Park, past the Governor’s School. I pictured all the kids moving into their dorms, away from home for the first time. What great adventures were awaiting those young artists. Who knows how far their dreams will go.
I ran past the Cancer Survivors Park. I wondered at what point a person becomes a survivor? Was I one now? Will I be?
I ran past the Rudolph Anderson Memorial. He was from Greenville, and was the only person shot down in the Cuban Missile Crises. Was it better to be one of a one or one of a many? Better yet to not be one of any.
I ran through Cleveland Park, past the YMCA, all the way to Greenville Tech until I turned around and headed back.
As I was getting close to the end of my run, two caucasian youths passed me on low rider bikes. They were blaring a song about how booty’s don’t lie or some such nonsense. Or that you can’t trust the booty? I can’t remember. They were singing along with the lyrics, using their fingers to hammer home certain points, the way I do when I teach sometimes. I had my earphones in but no music was playing. Their booty song faded into the distance as they rolled passed me. They were about 50 feet in front of me when a woman rounded the corner. As she passed the youths on the bikes, they turned around and checked out her booty. They then repeated the lyrics as if this woman had been conjured by their words. They then kicked their bikes into high gear, and the youths sped away.
The woman running had her ear phones in, sunglasses on, and acted like she didn’t noticed the youths checking her out. It was a good reminder of things that I don’t have to deal with. This woman was simply out for a jog, in the middle of the day, in Greenville, SC, and she can’t do it without having her ass commented upon.
It’s so easy to equate privilege with money. That can be a part of it, but it’s also about simply existing in space. I go about my life with no fear for the safety of the outside of my body. The inside is a slightly different story. If I am out in public and have to pee- I just go right in somewhere. Meeting a friend at Starbucks? I plop down and wait until the get there. No fear of a second glance, much less of consequences.
What if, like me, she wasn’t listening to music and heard what they said. What if it was the third time it had happened to her that week? That day? That run? All of a sudden she feels like she can’t use the trail by herself, in the middle of the day. I rarely see it, but I know it’s a constant in women’s lives.
Safely existing in space. Shame that’s a privilege so few of us have.