Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Street Harassment

I like to read Golden Silence's blog, Don't Be Silent --- Speak Out Against Street Harassment. Most females living in D.C. (and in many other cities) have experienced this but most, including me, tend to just deal with it as a fact of life. But it really shouldn't be that way and I appreciate that her blog at least keeps the issue in discussion.

Since moving to the neighborhood from the Adams Morgan/Mt. Pleasant area, I must say I have experienced significantly less harassment. Eckington is a more residential neighborhood than Adams Morgan or Mt. Pleasant and the streets I do go through on a daily basis just do not have the same amount of business and pedestrian traffic conducive to street harassment.

So far, the only incident I can remember was when I was on my bike at the corner of 1st street and florida avenue, nw, waiting for the light to turn green. A bike rider pulled beside me, then asked for my number. I said no but he persisted on starting a conversation. I said I wasn't interested, the light turned green and I biked away. Then, he followed me on his bike yelling for me to wait up. I yelled back to leave me alone and biked as fast as I could, looking over my shoulder to make sure he wasn't following me home. But that's about it as far as incidents worth mentioning...and probably because being chased by bike was kinda scary.

Anyways, earlier today I left the following comment on one of her posts with my thoughts on the issue:

I read this post some time ago but I’m only getting around to commenting.

I like your blog and I peruse it because often times, I read something and say oh, that happened to me too. I have since moved, but on a daily basis, I walked Columbia Rd and occasionally Mt. Pleasant Rd and not a day went by that I didn’t encounter some form of street harassment. I was actually flashed in broad daylight when I walked down the alley besides the Safeway. Contrary to how you’re feeling, I think those who are harassed a lot, are harassed because they send out a strong and confident demeanor which is attractive to most people. And I think the comments and contributions you get from readers should show you that you shouldn’t feel singled out.

Street harassment has never bothered me to the point that it made me feel bad about myself or depressed. At the end of the day, there is just no room for me to give the street harassment I encounter on a daily basis much thought. It’s always just been an annoyance. I’ve managed to do my daily walks being deaf to anything I perceive as harassment. I look past harassing people as if they don’t exist, I ignore car horns, whistles, leers, etc. and like you, I’ll only respond to polite greetings or compliments. I think I’ve gotten so good at it, it is the people I’m with that will notice and say they feel offended for me.

People who harass want attention and I refuse to give them that. The only days that street harassment affects my mood or get a reaction for me is when I’m having a bad or tough day in general, when it’s a particularly disturbing or disgusting incident, i.e., being flashed, or if it’s racially derogatory. I admire that you post your experiences up and that you respond to your harassers, it’s gutsy and it takes a lot of strength to put your daily experiences in writing. I know I wouldn’t be able to do it. But I think to let street harassment make you feel the way are feeling or bother you to the point of ruining your day is an extension of that harassment.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Axum Restaurant

I discovered Ethiopian food in D.C. and now I love Ethiopian food so much, I usually have it at least once a week. Definitely love D.C. for having a lot of Ethiopian restaurants. Fasika's in Adams Morgan was our favorite until it burned down and was rebuilt into something completely different. After that, most Ethiopian restaurants (i.e., Meskerem, Dukem, etc.) were good enough to satisfy my cravings for Ethiopian food but nothing to rave about.

My current favorite is Axum Restaurant on 9th Street which is only about a 15-20-minute walk from the neighborhood. Decor and ambience are just ok, nothing fancy. Every time I've gone, I'm usually the only non-Ethiopian. Service is spotty, water glasses don't get filled regularly and the food takes a while to come out. But they are friendly. Someone always comes by to ask how the food is or apologizes for not coming by with water. Yesterday, someone came by and chatted with me for a bit.

There is an Ethiopian restaurant near my office where I have lunch regularly. They are super fast and usually serve my order in about 5 minutes. But the food is just OK. I go there because it's convenient, close, quick, and since I'm a regular, they usually add something extra to my order. At Axum, I like to think the food takes a while to come out because they need the extra time to make it tastier...

Just a disclaimer, I am pescatarian so can't vouch for the meat or seafood dishes as I always get a veggie combo. Also, my vocab for describing food is pretty limited. I think because I have Ethiopian a lot, I find the flavors of the different dishes in a veggie combo have started to blend into each other and even taste bland. With Axum, each veggie dish tastes distinctly different with much more flavor and seasoning then other combos I've had.

I'm going to try to work my way down all the Ethiopian restaurants in the U Street area as well as other restaurants nearby. I'd like to see other people's recommendations too. But for now, Axum is definitely worth a visit.

Axum Restaurant
1936 9th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Neighborhood kids...

Ok....two months since my last post. Not actually a good start and I was actually going to disable the blog but saw the comments. Anyways, I will just have to try harder to post regularly.

Last night, I walked back home in the dark for the first time in the neighborhood. It wasn’t completely dark all the way when I left my office but it was by the time I got home. It was pretty uneventful, still saw the same people and the sidewalks were as busy (or empty) as they usually are during daylight. As I passed by Big Bear CafĂ©, I walk by a group of men who always seem to be there when I walk home. They greet me with their usual, “how are you doing?” and “how was your day?” Maybe one day, I’ll stop and chat, usually I’m just in a hurry to get home.

Nearing my apartment, a bunch of kids hanging out on a porch across the street yelled out to me, “hey shortie!” I ignore them and just keep walking. As a rule, I only respond to polite greetings. Soon after, one of them yells something like, “it’s not like we’re going to steal from you or rape you!” Just great. Did not need to hear that. A teenager walking in front of me hears all of this and when I pass him, he says, “how are you doing?” and I say “fine, thank you.”

I did not feel unsafe at all throughout all of this. For the most part, I was disappointed that the teenagers thought I was ignoring them because I feared them and not because I thought they were rude. That said, most teenagers I have run into in the neighborhood (including the one last night) are very polite and either greet me nicely or smile.

Anyways, last night reminded me that I need to figure out how to do volunteer work at Emery Elementary or McKinley Tech High. Hubby and I are going to be in the neighborhood for a while and I should get familiar with the school system and the children in it as we are definitely planning to have a kid at some point.