This problem is a global one -- my story is from Minneapolis in the USA.

I was riding the city buses to get home from my university. When I was most of the way home and most of the people had gotten off the bus, a man who had been asleep in the back of the bus woke up and began shouting in short disconnected bursts, like someone trying to shout through a cell phone with a bad connection. I glanced back, but thought he was talking on his phone. I had been studying, and began to put my notes away when I felt a heavy blow across the back of my head which felt as though it nearly snapped my neck. The man from the back of the bus had snuck forward and struck me.

I immediately got up and walked up the bus aisle shouting "Call the police! This man hit me! Call the police!" The driver pulled over and asked me to repeat what was happening, while two tall young men got up and blocked the aisle between the man who hit me and the rest of us on the bus. The man was shouting about how he had only wanted to talk to "the redhead" and was just trying to get my attention, and we realized he was drunk. (Among other things, my hair is brown, not red.) The driver summoned the police, and while we waited for them the two tall young men continued to guard the rest of us from the drunk man. It turned out the man had a number of arrest warrants out for domestic assault (hitting a member of one's household). He immediately went to jail.

I thought it was interesting what some us looked like and how it doesn't fit the more common prejudices of this country. The violent man was an ordinary-looking middle-aged white man, while the two young men who protected us all were young, black, and wore rap-music style clothing, and white women like me are told to be cautious of the latter but not of the former.

Time: 7 pm
experienced at the age of: 36

Posted 18th April 2008