An Open Letter To Loiterers: Stop Blocking My Springtime Shine!

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by Marissa Ellis

Spring blooms, not only in the environment, but within my spirit. The warmth wakes me out of my winter blues, stirs the rhythms of my heart and puts an extra pep in my step. Oh yes, my African soul is ready to tackle this new season and the subsequent summer to come.  I feel good.. until, that is…I am confronted by the ugly side of this beautiful season:  the loiterers. Ugh.

Yes, you know who you are.

As I make my way home and approach my block, I can already see you gaggle of men ready to harass me and fellow members of my gender under the guise of “being friendly.” No female under 45 is spared from your glares, stares, and unwelcome comments. There you stand, representing the nuisance that is your non-working, beer drinking, music blaring selves. It seems like the rest of civilization can assemble in parks, restaurants, bars and inside private residences. But you guys are a territorial bunch, who need to make sure the entrance to their homes are guarded 24/7, lest any dime piece goes unnoticed, right?

You insist that we should all be friends. But you know the saying: “you give someone an inch, they take a mile.” I quickly learned that any attempt of civility with you fools will only encourage more uncomfortable “complements.” No, I don’t want to know how good my legs look in my summer dress Tyrone.

To preserve my sanity, I’ve started ignoring you altogether. Me and my headphones are one when it comes to fighting the good fight for self-preservation and sanity, tuning out any potentially upsetting words that spew from your loose lips.  I know you don’t like it. You need to be recognized after all. So in efforts to show your discontent, you make sure you show it with your body language. When I enter and exit my building, you get silent and proceed to stare me down. But I’m not budging.

One day, you won’t be my problem. You can see that our Brooklyn neighborhood is slowly, but surely, becoming more and more gentrified. In ten years, you won’t be around. Folks with jobs and the decency to conduct themselves in private will take your place. The streets will be safe. I know my thoughts just perpetuate your accusations of me acting like “a white lady.” But alas, I’m just an everyday working gal who commands non-threatening living conditions and for that, I shall not be ashamed.

In the meantime, I ask you to not bogart the front entrance of our building. I know some of you live there too. Considering that many of our neighbors treat you with respect (read: leave you alone and don’t keep you from sleeping because of blaring Reggae music) isn’t it fair that you move your all-day party away from the entrance so as to allow us rent-paying, law abiding citizens to enter and exit without smelling your beer breath or catching sight of your sweaty pits underneath your dingy wifebeaters? I don’t think it’s too much to ask.  Do you?

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