Sunday, April 6, 2008


I dreamed last night that someone broke into my house.

I woke up to the sound of the door of the guest room opening. I jumped out of bed and headed to the top of the stairs and saw that it was ajar and opening. It could only be someone opening it. I knew I was alone because my roommate is out of town. I ran out of the room (somehow I had sandals on), headed to her room, silently. Or as silent as I could be, which, in dream logic, turned out to be very silent for this creaky old house.

I threw open my roommate's window and screen, climbed out, looked around to make sure that no one was out there or had noticed, and shimmied down the side of the house. No one saw me. I ran to my neighbor's house, banging on the door for him, a black man my age, to let me in. I was frantic, scared, but I was still rational, I was still somehow in control. And furious. I was on my cell phone, calling 9-1-1, trying to get them to catch him at the same time trying to explain to him what happened, that there was someone in my house!

Here comes the worst part.

He didn't believe me.

He kept telling me to calm down. To think rationally. I am rational, I try to tell him, show him. My cell phone is taking forever to get through and I start waving it at him, telling him to stop arguing with me and to call 9-1-1 now before the intruder gets away. He finally goes, comes back and at the same time I look over at my yard (clearly visible somehow from his house although there is a house between)--and a man was leaving my house and getting into his car, parked arrogantly, obscenely right behind mine. A man was just in my house! He was blond, older. In his 30s. He was white. And he is getting into a red car that he parked behind my red car and he was leaving my house after breaking in, after seeing the lights on and figuring that he didn't care, after trying to get into my home not because he wanted to steal something and not because he really cared but because he knew he could. Because he knew if he did who would care? Why would it matter? Just another black girl rapeddeadkilledbroken on the block. And he was a white guy besides, who was going to accuse him, and why shouldn't he get what he wanted? Or want is too strong a word because that would be an expression beyond dispassion. He really could have cared less--it was just a casual, stroll through the park, break into a window, open the guest room door, creep up the stairs, into the bedroom type of way. He didn't want, he was so nonchalant he just figured he could, would and will do it. Why not? Who was going to stop him? Who was going to catch him? Who was going to protect me?

I felt violated, frustrated, out of my mind. I was grabbing my neighbor, telling him I don't know cars, figure out what car it is and make sure to tell the 9-1-1- operator. He was looking, squinting, mumbling something about i don't know and I realized--he didn't believe me. I was screaming, can't you see him! he was in my house! tell her what car it was! hurry before he gets away! But he was reluctant to help. He didn't want to believe the obvious truth and fact that there is a blond white man leaving my house getting into a car and he was there to hurt me. He didn't want to get involved. He didn't want to believe me--so he didn't believe me.

He is still mumbling, never really does tell the operator what kind of car it is and by now the car is long gone but I am still getting crazier and crazier, frantic, but now silent because it is so unspeakable. I was technically safe in my neighbor's house. Technically. But I wasn't safe. I felt like I could never go back to my home. I felt like I was the loneliest person in the world. I felt more violated by this black man's obvious mistrust of me, obvious unwillingness to speak for to speak my name than by the intruder in my house. I knew that this stranger could care less about me, that in the grand scheme of things, he didn't care if he killed me or raped me or ignored me, if I lived or died. But this dismissal from a so-called brother I couldn't understand. Why accuse me of being irrational, emotional, overwrought? Why couldn't he see what was happening? Or, since he obviously could see, why couldn't he speak for me? Why couldn't he get involved? What was stopping him? Why didn't he believe me?

I felt desperate. And deeply, deeply, betrayed. And I couldn't do anything. And because I couldn't do anything, I finally just went bruisingly mute. No more waiting 2 speak. No more speaking at all.

Then I woke up.

With my arm flung over the book I fell asleep reading: This Bridge Called My Back.

And after I got out of bed, looked down the top of the stairs to make sure my guest room door was still shut, went to my roommate's room and checked outside to make sure that no red car was parked behind my little red car, and then opened the window to see how quietly the screen popped, and looked over my awning to see how far I'd have to slither to get out of the house, and then contemplated the rainy cold outside for almost an hour before heading downstairs to wrap myself in a blanket and sleep on the first floor couch because at least on the first floor if I have to escape I can go out the back door or the front door, at least then I have a chance to run unless there is a group of them and then I'm fucked either way....

After all of that, I thought back to the introduction of the last section I'd read before my dream:

"Guilt is not a feeling. It is an intellectual mask to a feeling. Fear is a feeling--fear of losing one's power, fear of being accused, fear of a loss of status, control, knowledge. Fear is real. Possibly this is the emotional, nontheoretical place from which serious anti-racist work among white feminists can begin." --Cherríe Moraga
Emphasis mine.

More than among white feminists, I think perhaps fear is the place from which serious anti-sexist work between men and women of color must begin....

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