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Mon Apr 2, 2012, 03:18 AM

Because I am not Trayvon, I had the privilege of taking a walk at 2am

I am female, 39, white latina living in Minnesota - about as far from Trayvon Martin as one can get.

I live 10 min north of Minneapolis and I am an insomniac. So around 2am most mornings, I walk our dogs - a german shepherd and a black lab mix. We live next to a very busy road, no sidewalks within a good .5 mile around us, so walking at night with no traffic is ideal - plus in the summer its cooler and our german shepherd is a little too excitable and there are lots of dogs that live around us. For the 10 plus yrs we have lived in our rented house, I have walked our dogs (first a collie mix, and two black lab mixes, then added the shepherd, and now the collie and elder black lab have passed away, so it just 2 dogs) in the middle of the night - anywhere between 10pm to 4am, and never gave it a second thought.

I have had many a police cruiser pass us by over the years, never once have I worried about being stopped. We have come across neighbors coming home late or outside their homes, and never worried that they would find us suspicious. I have worn a hoodie, bundled up in the winter, shorts in the summer - never worried my clothing would be deemed thuglike.

This behavior - walking around at night - is not new to me. I have always walked at night and never worried about my safety. In college and law school, I often had jobs that had late shifts or late nights trying to get my work done at the last minute and walking home in the dark never once bothered me. I walked home from bars, from parties, from work, from school - all the time and never worried about getting attacked or being thought of as suspicious or worried about being harassed by police.

Now, to be fair - I have not lived in the most crime-ridden areas - I went to college in Wisconsin, then transferred to Minnesota, went to law school in Des Moines and now live north of Minneapolis. But crime can and does happen everywhere and college campuses are not the safest place for a young woman to be wandering around drunk (which was me more than once). Don't worry, I know how stupid I was and the risks I took - my grandma lectured me often.

The only thing I really fear are bugs and small animals that jump out at me - toads are the worst in the summer. Please don't think I have lived a sheltered life. As a child, I was physically, emotionally and sexually abused. I think because I survived all that, it gave me a false sense of invincibility - I fought a lot as young girl and teen and to this day I am not one to back down from a physical altercation.


It never occurs to me when I am out wondering through the neighborhoods with my flashlight and plastic bag to clean up after a dog - that I might be considered a threat. Nor does it ever occur to me to be worried that someone is going to attack me (ok, the dogs help, but even without them I don't worry).

And you know what, no one - not me, not you, certainly not Trayvon - should ever have to worry about being attacked or gunned down for walking home. Race, age, manner of dress, location - none of that should matter.

This tragedy has so many lessons to be learned - and opens my eyes to things I take for granted - that I should be able to take for granted - that everyone has a right to take for granted. I hope that when this is no longer "news", we don't forget and we don't his death be just another statistic.

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Reply Because I am not Trayvon, I had the privilege of taking a walk at 2am (Original post)
nadine_mn Apr 2012 OP
dkf Apr 2012 #1
Cali_Democrat Apr 2012 #6
dkf Apr 2012 #7
awoke_in_2003 Apr 2012 #16
Kaleva Apr 2012 #26
awoke_in_2003 Apr 2012 #28
Kaleva Apr 2012 #29
awoke_in_2003 Apr 2012 #30
Snake Alchemist Apr 2012 #18
Luminous Animal Apr 2012 #2
Snake Alchemist Apr 2012 #17
Luminous Animal Apr 2012 #19
Selatius Apr 2012 #3
Luminous Animal Apr 2012 #20
nanabugg Apr 2012 #4
TreasonousBastard Apr 2012 #5
SCantiGOP Apr 2012 #8
hfojvt Apr 2012 #9
nadine_mn Apr 2012 #12
hfojvt Apr 2012 #23
jpak Apr 2012 #10
Voice for Peace Apr 2012 #11
nadine_mn Apr 2012 #13
Voice for Peace Apr 2012 #14
Honeycombe8 Apr 2012 #15
Rosa Luxemburg Apr 2012 #21
Beacool Apr 2012 #22
geckosfeet Apr 2012 #24
Turbineguy Apr 2012 #25
florida08 Apr 2012 #27
joshcryer Apr 2012 #31
Skittles Apr 2012 #32

Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 03:40 AM

1. I'm the opposite...afraid to walk in my neighborhood after 7pm.

 

I'm a female, small in stature and running into almost any male seems too risky.

When I get to my condo and see the security guard in the parking garage, that is when I feel safe.

Maybe I ought to feel safe walking around at 2 am but that just seems stupid.

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Response to dkf (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 10:31 AM

6. Why are you living in a constant state of fear?

 

That's no way to live. Going through life constantly scared and frightened is not something you should be doing.

The GOP prays on peoples fears. This is what they try to appeal to. Whether it's vilifying blacks, hispanics, gays or muslims...the GOP uses the fear card to try and scare Americans. Fear of the "other".

A lot of people have been the victims of crime. I have and so have all my family members. But to go through life constantly frightened is no way to live.

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Response to Cali_Democrat (Reply #6)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 11:45 AM

7. Well that's what it is to live in the heart of the city.

 

There are many homeless with psychological or drug problems in the area. I choose to live there because it's convenient and I work around there anyway sometimes to 11:00pm. Safer areas would mean buying a house or townhouse at least an hours drive away from work and which I really can't afford (average house exceeds $500,000 still). But even where I grew up which is in the safest area, we experienced stolen cars and our house was broken in to. People even stole our aluminum cans and my brothers surfboard.

I'm not scared when I walk around because I do so when there are many people out and about. But weighting under 100 pounds does make one realize they could be taken down quite easily in a confrontation. I'm thinking of taking self defense classes but it's probably better to avoid bad situations.

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Response to dkf (Reply #7)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 07:36 PM

16. "I'm thinking of taking self defense classes"...

 

I would recommend that, because it is not always possible to avoid bad situations- they can occur anytime, anywhere. With the proper training, your less than 100 lbs can be made formidable.

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Response to awoke_in_2003 (Reply #16)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 08:55 AM

26. Yes and I think most classes teach that it's best to....

avoid areas or situations that one deems unsafe. If the poster believes it's unsafe for her to be out and about after 7 p.m., then she ought not go out if at all possible even if she has proper training.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #26)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 04:19 PM

28. yes, they do...

 

but my point was just because you avoid bad areas/times of day/etc doesn't mean bad things cannot happen. Like I said, they can occur anytime, anywhere.

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Response to awoke_in_2003 (Reply #28)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 05:38 PM

29. And I think your suggestion is a good idea because of that.

Avoidance or retreat is the best but when that's not possible, then one has to rely on one's self defense training, if they have that.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #29)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 07:01 PM

30. +1. nt

 

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Response to dkf (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 07:43 PM

18. I'm a 5'11" large male and I won't walk in my neighborhood past dark.

 

Even with a knife or pistol it is dicey. Getting better slowly though. Mixed bag with gentrification.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 03:53 AM

2. I also have insomnia and often walk around San Francisco in the wee

hours of the morning. Not only do I feel safe but I feel comfortable.

I am a 54 year old white woman who has been a long time advocate against the criminalization of youth.

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Response to Luminous Animal (Reply #2)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 07:38 PM

17. Try it in Oakland. nt

 

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Response to Snake Alchemist (Reply #17)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 08:20 PM

19. There are some parts of San Francisco that I wouldn't walk around alone at night...

and there are some parts of Oakland. In fact, I lived in a part of San Francisco where I would take a three block cab ride home at night. It wasn't the denizens that (for the most part) that were the problem for me; but rather, the outsiders.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 04:06 AM

3. My experience has been the exact opposite in my time. I use the night to hide.

When I walk around at night, I specifically dress in black or very dark colors to blend in well with the dark. That, and I avoid street lights if possible to avoid illuminating myself and, essentially, broadcasting my presence to those who may be around. The less noticeable you are, the better. I avoid using flashlights or anything that could be seen by others and simply rely upon my own eyes' night vision. In a city, there's usually just enough ambient light to be enough to see your path, and I grew up during the crack wars of the 1980s in urban areas and the Reagan-Bush recessions that extended well into the Clinton years. My father was a brutal man who was involved in gang-run underground gambling, so I was more than a little exposed to very hard and brutal people, especially when it came to money and the payment of debts.

For what it's worth, I would say that with the way you walk, it appears you'd be spotted by a would-be attacker far sooner than I would be.

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Response to Selatius (Reply #3)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 08:24 PM

20. On the other hand...

my 6'1" daughter prefers to take big giant leaping steps singing, "I Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" at the top of her lungs. She says she looks crazy enough that people cross the street to avoid her!

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 04:10 AM

4. I see dogs..... nt

 

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 08:38 AM

5. Back in about 1973 I was stopped "for walking" in Florida...

I am white and was in my twenties then. Not being able to sleep one night, I walked down to the river in Tampa and was listening to the mullet run when two cops asked me what I was doing there. "Just taking a walk" meant nothing to them and they kept pressing. Sometime during the "conversation" I mentioned that my company transferred me from New York, and wandering around at night was a popular thing to do.

"Oh, you're from New York! OK, we get it."

Gobsmacked!

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 11:59 AM

8. Ha! I need to remember that

I live in SC, so anytime I have to interact with police I'll just say, "but I'm from New York." Good, all purpose excuse for Officer BillyBob.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 12:19 PM

9. you are asking for a perfect world

"no one should ever have to be worry walking home".

I grew up in a small town. Even in a small town one has to be one guard walking alone. There is no shortage of violent thugs in the world willing to hurt somebody just because they are bored and unhappy.

Also, about the word "privilege". You call it a privilege to have something that you think everybody should have. To me, that does not fit the definition of the word privilege.

Take walking for example. To a parapalegic or a quadripalegic, even being able to walk at all would be seen as a privilege. However, it is absurd to call that a privilege because it is an ability which something over 90% of the population has. The word privilege implies something extra, something most people do not have. The definition calls it an "advantage" or a "special benefit". Something that almost everybody has, or something that everybody should have, does not fit that definition.

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Response to hfojvt (Reply #9)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 02:54 PM

12. Of course I am asking for a perfect world - isn't that what we all want?

Isn't that what we work towards, we want for our future generations? A world free from violence, discrimination, and bigotry. Our kids will have good educations, excellent healthcare, great job opportunities, a cleaner environment... That is what I try to work towards.

As far as your comments on privilege... there is a concept called white privilege - you may have also heard of male privilege, straight privilege, economic privilege - that is what I am referring to in my OP subject. I am well aware that if my skin was a darker shade, I would not be able to walk around our neighborhood so freely.

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Response to nadine_mn (Reply #12)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 12:26 AM

23. no some people accept that the world is never gonna be perfect

and strive for small improvements which are more realistic, instead of expecting sunshine every day, even in Minnesota (which you well know is not gonna happen).

As for those concepts of privilege, I think they are kinda stupid. Perhaps partly because I am a straight white male, but also because there is a basic contradiction between

1. white people are privileged because they can walk at night without being seen as suspicious characters
and
2. everybody should be able to walk at night without being seen as suspicious characters.

That does not fit the definition of privilege. A privilege is a "special benefit".

Let me try an example or two. Let's say that my dad is President of the School Board (which it happens that he was for a time while I went to school) and because of that, I get a free school lunch every day. That would be a privilege. However, if the advantage went in the reverse, you would not call it a privilege. Suppose, instead of a free lunch, I was getting my lunch money stolen every day by a bully who threatened to beat me up if I did not comply. Would I then be able to say to all the other students who were not getting robbed that they had a "sansbully privilege"? Wouldn't it be quite ridiculous to call "not getting robbed" a privilege?

I think it would be.

Take it further though. Suppose I am one of two black kids at school and we were both being targetted by a racist bully because of the color of our skin.

Would it now make sense to say that the white students were privileged?

Nope, I still do not buy it. You can say that the kids being bullied have an unfair disadvantage, but that does not translate into an unfair advantage for all those not so handicapped. Further, telling them they have a privilege is NOT conducive to getting their help to rectify any problems. That's two strikes, and it becomes a third strike when you realize that there are variations in the categories, where I have supposed straight white male privilege as I clean toilets and Ellen DeGeneres doesn't have such privileges in her rich and famous life. Now suddenly the kid getting bullied is privileged over the one getting free lunches?

Nope, if ten years of cleaning toilets have taught me anything, it is that I know excrement when I see it. The notion of white privilege and male privilege and straight privilege need to be wrapped in toilet paper and flushed into the sewer of bad ideas even if they are liberal shibboleths.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 12:22 PM

10. Just don't carry a box of Skittles and wear a hoodie and you will be fine

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 12:58 PM

11. if Trayvon had had a nice big dog with him

 

...

dogs are the best deterrent

cats, not so much

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Response to Voice for Peace (Reply #11)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 02:56 PM

13. pretty sure Zimmerman would have shot the dog too

If he took a can of iced tea as threat, you know damn well Zimmerman would have seen the dog as killer breed.

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Response to nadine_mn (Reply #13)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 05:13 PM

14. but might not have been so quick to approach

 

however you're probably correct.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 07:30 PM

15. Sad, but true, Nadine. But I worry about you. That school teacher that was recently murdered...

was out alone jogging in a low-crime area. It's just not safe to go out alone at odd hours (really late or really early), esp in areas where there aren't likely to be other people. Not only crime, but you could get injured, and there would be no one around to help you. I know you have your dogs, but a gun would easily take care of them.

Be careful out there.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 09:31 PM

21. wrong place at the wrong time

One can walk through the most notorious areas and remain unscathed. One could easily get attacked in the car park of a mall in broad daylight or in the grocery store at noon. It depends. I once got scrutinized by the Police for walking home at 11pm in Madison, Wisconsin!

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2012, 11:03 PM

22. As a woman, I wouldn't be that comfortable taking a walk alone at 2 AM.

You may not be considered a threat, but someone may see you as a potential victim. Although the dogs may be a deterrent, be careful.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 06:27 AM

24. I love the late night hours when no one is around.

But I live in a fairly secluded suburban area at the end of a cul-de-sac and there is no one and no traffic at that time of the morning.

Used to walk the dog anytime he wanted to go out - including 2 or 3 AM. I get up to watch meteor showers at 1 or 2 AM or just before dawn. The starry night is beautiful, so is the glowing moon. An owl buzzed me one evening. And listening to the waves of peepers is transcendental. Rain storms are wonderful.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 08:22 AM

25. Well, it's true

the same Florida law that may make the murder of a black 17 year old boy legal, makes the murder of latinos and whites legal too.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 09:24 AM

27. eloquently put

This tragedy has so many lessons to be learned - and opens my eyes to things I take for granted - that I should be able to take for granted - that everyone has a right to take for granted.

I love the early moring before dawn. It's peaceful or was. But now that I know I can be shot and someone can claim they felt threatened claiming self defense with no questions ask I am rethinking. This law doesn't not equalize it does the opposite. I'm not usually packing when I go out. I'm not looking for trouble. But someone else who is has perfect cover now.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Tue Apr 3, 2012, 08:34 PM

31. Amazing post. Needs more rec's!

I have lived in a bad part of town for 5 years and not once, not once have I been stopped by the police. In 5 years. I even carry a bottle which I have tea in and I take big swigs during the summer. No stops to ask what's in the bottle. None.

I have had trouble with various hoodlums but they've been few and far between, and I don't go out at night anymore since being shot at, however. But I did want to comment on your post about police because that's been my experience even though for all intents I should've been stopped at least once. There are many other examples I could use though. The crime affects everyone equally here so it's not just me running into trouble, so I overlook it.

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Response to nadine_mn (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2012, 03:50 AM

32. I very often walk in the middle of the night

I have on occasion had cops stop to check on my well-being (they think perhaps my car broke down) - I'm a night worker and find the night endlessly fascinating - you'd be surprised what lights up at night that is hard to see during the day - for example I've found a couple of IPhones (both returned) - both owners said they had searched in the grassy areas I found them during the day with no success

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