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In response to Paul Ruffins’ story “Finding Hell on Wheels” (9/29): If you think your experiences with “feral young brothers” in D.C. is scary, try it as a black woman on foot! As a Bethesda resident, I used to go to the District every weekend by myselfto the zoo, Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Union Station, and so on. No more. I was appalled by the increasing anger and aggressiveness of young black men (aged roughly 15 to 30). Their attempts to intimidate and dominate me by their proximity, stares, and sexual comments were truly frightening. I guess it made them feel powerful. I dared not let them know that they had scared me, for it would only make it worse. Like animals in the wild, they could sense any weakness, and it made their prey more desirable. I could understand if I had been dressed provocatively, but I wasn’t: usually just a sweat shirt, loose jeans, and sneakers.
Like Ruffins’, my heart was hardened a long time ago. Instead of trying to understand, I avoid. I have to, for my safety and peace of mind. Unfortunately, the folks who should read your story won’t.
Thank you, Washington City Paper, for printing that article. It was accurate and very well-written. You can bet you will get the usual letters from other blacks about how you portray us negatively, blah, blah, blah. The truth sometimes hurtsget over it!