To the Black Man Across the Street

I never knew you were scared too.

I was taught to be scared of walking a street late at night.

Because I am a woman.

And even though I think I’m strong,

I’m not strong enough to fend off most danger.

So I was taught to be “aware.”

Which really meant to beware.

Which directly translated meant to be afraid.

And though no one ever directly said it,

I was mostly taught to be afraid of you.

The man whose skin matched the color of the darkness.

And I was.

For years.

Until I learned that was racist.

I was racist.

For thinking that.

For allowing that to be etched on my heart.

Because the truth is,

More times than not,

You’ve been secretly looking out for me,

From across the street.

You’ve quietly kept an eye on me.

Like a black knight.

Protecting from afar.

Ready and willing to interfere if necessary.

Thank you.

And, I’m sorry.

I never knew that you were scared too.

But now I do.

It sucks that I still have to be guarded.

Not because you are black.

But because I am a woman.

I want to be safe without being careless or unalert.

That’s a tricky balance.

But of course, you already know that.

How ignorant of me to have ever assumed otherwise.

So even if I don’t approach.

Know this.

I’m secretly looking out for you,

From across the street.

I’m keeping a quiet eye on you.

Like a white knight.

Protecting from afar.

Ready and willing to interfere if necessary.