Race Relations

Do Not Move Off The Sidewalk Challenge: Holding Your Space in A White World

Last year, I was in the airport on the rolling walkway with clear directions posted before stepping on the sidewalk to ‘stand on the right or walk on the left.’ There was a White man in front of me that disregarded the sign and stood in the middle of the rolling walkway preventing anyone from passing him. Behind me, I could hear someone approaching, and I turned around and saw a middle age Black woman walking briskly with her rolling suitcase flying behind her. I pressed myself and my luggage against the side rail to move out of her way and allow her easy access to pass me. She whizzed by me and in front of her was the White man, oblivious that she was behind him and in an apparent rush. He never turned around, never moved and never once thought that others behind him might need to pass. While I would like to say the Black woman, leaped over him, luggage in tow in a single bound, she stopped dead in her tracks. She never said a word. She never politely tapped the man on the shoulder to say, “Excuse me, may I get by you?” She just accepted that he was not going to move and for some reason even though she was in an apparent rush, she made a choice not to ask for him to cede the space for her to pass. She waited for the rolling walkway to come to an end, waited for him to saunter off the walkway then immediately took off in a sprint heading towards her gate. That small interaction stayed with me my entire flight.

As I made my connecting flight, I was looking forward to having pizza at the airport. I cannot recall the name of the restaurant, but it has the best pizza with prosciutto, arugula and cooked eggs on top surrounded by hot, creamy goat cheese. After I got my pizza, I sat down at an empty counter and put my earphones in, anxiously ready to take a huge bite. Before I could get my first bite, a White man walked up to the opposite side of the counter, facing me, with his food. I looked up at him then looked down at the completely empty counter space (besides me sitting at it) wondering why he chose to stand directly in front of me as he added salt to his food? Typically, I would move down, but after witnessing the Black woman on the rolling walkway, I made a decision, “I am NOT moving! I do not care if he wants to stand there until I have finished every bite of this pizza, I refuse to move to accommodate him!” After he enjoyed a few bites of his food and noticed that I was not going to move, he packed up his belongings and moved to the end of the counter.

Victory!

It was just that easy. I made a conscious decision as a Black woman to hold my space. I was not going to cede my space to a White person because that is what was expected of me.  Now, before you read any further, this is not a blog about being rude, impolite, etc. I believe as an “average” human being we understand that there are sometimes you must and should cede your space. If you are in the way of someone that has some physical challenges or someone is elderly and as a result, has some physical issues that is different.  I am not talking about ordinary, everyday courtesy we extend to others for often apparent reasons. That is NOT what I am talking about so please do not message me about that or make this blog about that. If you do, you are taking the easy way out of this blog and not looking at the totality of what I am discussing.

I am talking about Black people, particularly Black women and People of Color being cognizant of how they navigate throughout spaces making accommodations for White people and White people having an expectation that Black people or People of Color must navigate their bodies to allow White people access in spaces. This is more than someone being rude; this is about White people feeling as if Black bodies should accommodate them in spaces and if we do not, it is seen as the Black person being rude, unpleasant and intimidating.

An example of this is a recent incident documented by Frederick T. Joseph, who took a photo of a White woman placing her feet on his dining tray on an airplane. The airline staff did not address the woman and when Joseph asked the woman to move her feet, she accused him of disrupting her flight. According to the article, when the flight staff asked the woman to remove her feet she stated, “If I put one foot down, I want to be accommodated for accommodating him.”  In this space, the White woman felt she was well within her right to infringe on Joseph’s space and when told she could not, she wanted to be accommodated as if respecting his space was doing him a favor.

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Photo by Frederick T. Joseph/Twitter

Black people and People of Color accommodate spaces for White people  so often that we may not even realize that we are doing it or how ingrained it is in Black culture to cede your space.  I hadn’t given thought to the incident in the airport in a while; however, yesterday I read a Twitter thread by, Tatiana Mac and the memory of that day instantly came to my mind.  (Please read the complete thread on Twitter.)

While thousands of people shared, understood and could relate to Tatiana’s story, there was an exchange by a White woman named Liberty Warrior that brought the thread full circle. (I  am providing screenshots below because I knew it would only be a matter of time before Liberty Warrior blocked me and true to form, when I went to the thread today, she had blocked me. Because I deal with women like Liberty Warrior often, I had already taken screen shots of the conversation because I knew she would do that. That is often the modus operandi of people like her. When they do not want to face the truth, they block the truth.)

Even in the virtual arena,  Black people and People of Color are expected to cede their space.  If you look at the thread, Liberty Warrior  was repeatedly asked to remove herself from Tatiana’s thread, and she refused. Instead of starting her own thread in her own virtual space, she felt it was necessary to list all the times that People of Color have made her feel inferior in spaces on Tatiana’s thread. She could not understand that she was doing the very thing that  Tatiana was talking about just in a virtual space. When I mentioned this to her, she called me sweetheart, and when I told her that was not my name, she proceeded to tell me that SHE can call me whatever she wants. Why does she feel that she has that authority? Because in many spaces, even virtual spaces, many White people think that Black people and People of Color must step back, bow down, and  relinquish their virtual space to accommodate their racism.

For centuries, White America has dictated how Black people can navigate our own bodies in spaces.  It is not just the physical space itself being regulated by White people but the actual way Black people can use their bodies in these spaces. For instance, there was a time in this country that Black people were required to step off the sidewalk if a White person was approaching them and allow the White person to pass, before stepping on the sidewalk again.  According to Dr. Ronald L. F. Davis of
California State University,  Jim Crow laws provided “racial etiquette” for Black people. Black people were required to be “agreeable and non-challenging, even when the White person was mistaken about something.”

Black people are often told how much space we are allowed to take up, and our space is often infringed upon to accommodate White people. If we are tall, our height is used as a way to demonize us. This was evident when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was murdered within minutes by the police in Cleveland, Ohio. Tamir was described by now ousted police union president, Steve Loomis as, “Menacing. He’s 5-feet-7, 191 pounds. He wasn’t that little kid you’re seeing in pictures. He’s a 12-year-old in an adult body.” Tamir could not help his height. Yet his physical appearance was used to justify his murder. If we take up too much space, it is a problem. Black people and People of Color are acutely aware of our bodies in spaces. I have been in meetings, and everyone has been acknowledged, but me or I am acknowledged last. I have sat in spaces, and after a quick introduction, people cease directing any comments to me. It is almost as if I am The Invisible Black Person by the door just taking up space. I am learning after the airport incident, to hold my space. I am here, and I will not apologize if me holding my space disrupts your day.

My challenge for Black people and People of Color, particularly Black women and Women of Color, is to hold your space. I challenge you for the next 24-48 hours to be aware of your body in spaces and do not move for a White person or make any apologies for physically occupying any space. Be mindful of how you navigate sidewalks, who moves to accommodate you and who doesn’t. If someone infringes on your space, do you speak up or remain silent?  Make a mental note of any time you feel you were “expected” to move and the reaction of the other person when you didn’t. Take note of how people accommodate others in spaces. Was it frightening or empowering to hold your space? Do you think people felt you were intimidating? How did you feel at the end of the day? 

For White people, I challenge you for the next 24-48 hours to be aware of how to treat Black people and People of Color in spaces. Do you have an expectation that Black people and People of Color should move out of your way? How many times do you insert yourself and your comments into virtual spaces because you feel it is your right without reading and listening to People of Color that have stated their truth on a particular issue? Do you speak around the Black person as if they are not in the room? Do you interrupt People of Color when they are speaking? Are you cutting a Black person or a Person of Color in line because you feel that is your right? Also be aware of how it feels to be cognizant of how your body navigates spaces and imagine how that would feel to do that at the very least for 8 hours out of each day.

When I held my space at the airport, I felt empowered. I was angry that someone stood right in front of me and started eating as if I was not right there. I am here. I have every right to be here. I have the right to be in spaces. I will no longer apologize for taking up space nor will I cede my space to a White person simply because that is some unwritten but expected rule. Over the next two days, walk in your authority.  Walk as if you want the world to know, “I am here!” Because you are. And you deserve to be. 

Please come back after you do the challenge and share some of your thoughts!

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Enjoy the Sidewalk!  Photo Credit: Nappy.co Artist: @photosbyphab

235 replies »

  1. I’m a middle-aged white guy. I’ve seen this phenomenon in person many times. I hope people of color stop ceding your space to people like me. Not only is it bad for you but it’s allowing white people to become way too lazy and entitled, leading us to a state of affairs where we accept and celebrate adsolute mediocrity and even stupidity, as long as it’s white – witness president trump.

    • Thank you for reading, Tim and I agree with everything you have said. I also appreciate that you say you have seen this happen. Many people don’t believe this is a thing and I tell them just read through the comments on this blog and the Twitter thread. There is no way all of us are making this up. I also agree about Trump. Don’t get me started LOL!

    • Thanks for your blog on taking space. I am a Korean American woman and I had the very same thing happen in the San Francisco airport. An older white man was standing with his stuff sprawled over the whole moving sidewalk that no one could get around him. There was a line of people behind me frustrated. So, I respectfully said, “Sir, I don’t know if you knew this, but this side is for walkers…could you move your things over so we can pass by?” He looked up angrily and yelled, “Go the f__ck where you came from.” I shouldn’t have been, but I was caught off guard and I proceeded to yell back, “I have every right to be here. I’m an American citizen.” And I stormed off, as he continued to throw profanity at me. I wish I had the peace of mind to have asked him, “Why did you have to question my belonging here? What is wrong with you, that you can’t just move your stuff? Why do you feel the need to attack me, when you are infringing on everyone else’s freedom to walk on this sidewalk?” I let him get to me. I hope and pray that next time, I could HOLD my space even better and keep it about him and NOT let him make it about me, allowing him to make my blood pressure sky rocket. Bless you Hannah.
      Sandy Lee Schaupp

      • Sandy, I am very sorry that happened to you. I, as many people have shared on this blog, completely understand. What you posted demonstrated what I am saying. It was a simple request that you shouldn’t EVEN HAVE TO MAKE! Anyone that has been in an airport a few times and can read and comprehend understands how the moving sidewalk works. (I understand if someone has some challenges. That is not what this is about just in case someone wants to chime in with that.) It is VERY SIMPLE. One side you stand, one side you walk. So simple so everyone can get through the airport. There is NO WAY someone goes from politely being asked to move their things so others can get by to, “Go the f*ck where you came from,” unless he felt entitled to take up all that space. And since he made it about race he felt entitled because he was White. Period. He thinks, “Who are you to ask him to move his stuff?” He believes as long as he is occupying the space, even though he is blocking others and not following the standard rules, it is HIS space. Someone does not respond like that unless they have a sense of entitlement. Most people would say, “Oh I am sorry. My bad. Let me grab my stuff.” But he feels it’s his space and you being a Person of Color should just deal with it. Wrong! You were right in speaking up and I am sorry he behaved the way that he did. I hope that does not happen again but please know you have EVERY right to hold your space and be in ALL spaces. His words were COMPLETELY about him. Out of the mouth flows the issues of the heart. You continue to walk in your authority! ❤️

      • Thank you Hannah for your blog and for your spirit of truth telling! I’m so sorry that you have to deal with such aggressive non listening people like that guy Tim. I’m impressed with how calm and straightforwardly truth speaking you continue to be when he keeps insulting you. You’re a great model of staying calm, knowing who you are, and not letting yourself get bullied. Bless you and your work!
        Sandy Lee Schaupp

    • Hi Hannah I just heard you on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. I’ve experienced rude white people, for some reason their manners seem to be nonexistent when it comes to people of color. I insist on ‘excuse me”, “please” and “thank you”. I don’t move out the way when walking down the street, I automatically stand my ground. I say something when they’re standing in my personal space. I don’t give up my space to people just because they think they’re entitled to it. I don’t accept bad manners or the perception of entitlement from white people. I call them on their behavior which seems to surprise them, then you get the “I’m sorry”. Why is it that simple courtesies and manners are for a select few. I feel like people of color are not seen by white people, UNLESS we appear “threatening” or just living our lives. This is America and Donald Trump’s world. Sometime people are only as good as their leader. So I’m not surprised at the state of affairs these days. Thank you for the blog.

  2. Back in the day at Duke University, the Black Student Union had a 3rd story “room” that overlooked the quad. Sittting there, looking down at students walking past each other, we’d be amazed at how many times black students would lower their heads when walking past whites students. They didn’t even realize they were doing it, they just did it. There are so many different manifestations of subconscious feelings of inferiority.

    • Yep. It is so funny how things like that are so ingrained that we just do not even realize when we are doing it. And then our kids do it and so on and so forth. This ends today. I just cannot do it anymore. We have a right to be in all spaces. We have a right to hold our heads up high! Thank you, Ralph for adding that piece about looking down. We need to walk in our authority.

      • Speaking as a black woman whose parent, aunts, and uncles grew up in a rural setting in which even being seen talking to a white person could result in criminal accusations or harrassment, I’m going to say that black students at Duke University probably aren’t lowering their heads due to “feelings of inferiority.” I’m more inclined to believe they are doing it because they want to avoid the foolery that is inherent in white supremacy. Can’t be baited into a fight, then subsequently named the aggressor if you don’t even make eye contact. Same thing with moving aside on a sidewalk. No black person does that because they actually think white people are royalty. It’s a matter of knowing white peopl are quick to call the police/cry/cause a scene. Literally no one has time to always be dealing with that.

  3. For many years, I have consciously ceded space to POC as a white woman, precisely because I know white people often expect that they are the ones with the “right” to take up as much space as they want. (And then I sometimes worry they might mistake my actions as attempts to avoid them. Sigh. We have so much work to do… So much damage to repair.)

    • Today I was at a festival which was very crowded and people bumping into you is the norm. No harm. No foul. A White woman bumped into me and she was so apologetic. It actually surprised me. I told her I was fine and she apologized even more. (Maybe she read this blog lol) but I wasn’t bothered. It’s a festival. That will happen. But I mentioned that to say, the fact she was aware made me smile on the inside. It seemed like she got it. I think when you do cede space to a POC it is probably done in a way that the people understand you are being kind. And if they are like me they appreciate that you are aware because most people aren’t. Thank you for reading!

  4. I’m so sorry that this is still a thing. Please don’t lump all white people together. I see you. I hear you. I honor your struggle.

    • Thank you, Kerri. Yes it is still a thing and the outpouring of stories has been amazing and heartbreaking. I find myself feeling said when people say something like, “I wish I would have held my space.” Thank you for reading and understanding.

  5. This really resonates with me for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that I grew up in a mostly-White private school in the 70s and early 80s. I was very tall, and a star student but not terribly popular. The teachers adored me; I had very few friends. The only other Black girl in my class hated me. I learned to walk with my head down between classes, because it was the best way for me to minimize the space I inhabited. It has taken me a lifetime to learn to walk with dignity and pride and ownership of the space I’m in. When I have brought this up occasionally with that other Black girl (as adults we’ve become friends), she is always surprised that I felt she hated me (she really did; she would beat me up on the regular for the other kids’ entertainment). And she always surprises me that she felt, as i did, that she needed to be as invisible as possible.

    • Thank you for reading, Kristyn and sharing your truth. I wanted to make sure in this blog that I included the size of Black bodies being “regulated,” because that is often the case. It is often things you cannot even control that people feel compelled to control. You could not help how tall you grew yet we find ways to shrink ourselves and take up the least amount of space. It is interesting that the Black girl that didn’t like you felt the same way that you did, that she must make herself as invisible as possible in that space. I wonder how life would have been for you and her if you were both just allowed to shine, to not shrink, to just be? A teacher read this blog and commented. I believe her name was Beth and she said she was going to look out of this once the school year started again. I believe this is something parents/caregivers can influence but how wonderful would it be if it was reinforced in the school? How wonderful would it be if we made sure no kids felt the need to minimize themselves because of their race? That would be a beautiful thing. I hope you are embracing your height and walking tall and proud! Because you should! ❤️

  6. Thanks for sharing this. There are so many ways that racism is reinforced. However, I’m not sure that THIS is always a perfect example. I only say that because, as an obnoxiously basic white girl, this happens to me many, many times every. single. day. People step in front of me in line at the grocery store. Knock me off of sidewalks. A few weeks ago a group of people actually sat on the chair I was sitting in while trying to take a selfie. And it’s not just me. I’ve notice this happening to others of all genders, ages, and races all around me too. I’ve come to the conclusion that people are generally pretty bad at looking out for one another. So, I think this might be one example that is above (or perhaps below) race. For my part, I try to keep my eyes open and my head up whenever possible and pay attention to everyone around me. I can always do better. Thanks for the reminder to stay vigilant!

    • White girl to white girl, just a friendly reminder: when a POC shares their experiences of negative treatment they’ve received, it’s often met with disbelief and skepticism from white people. Generally it’s better to trust that they know their own experience, just like anyone does. Not saying you haven’t also experienced something similar, but if a POC has had a racially-motivated negative experience, best to take them at their word because they actually lived it. We reinforce negative racial biases when POC’s shared experiences are immediately met with skepticism, even if it’s sincerely held.

      • Yes, thank you Meghan for educating other white people. It’s tiresome to have to explain and educate as a person of color.

  7. Appreciate this and completely agree. A bit confused why you say her feet were on his tray table when they’re actually on her own tray table? The article stands well on its own, and to my understanding her feet were on her own table. Still rude, imposing, and privileged, but not quite as severe as if they were on his table.

  8. Yep, as a white man, I’ve never, ever, not even once had this happen to me. Ever. Not by a people of color. Not by a people of not color. It must be my being a not people of color that has protected me from this happening. Get. ****ing. Serious. Are you this weak? Truly, if you’re this much of a victim, I feel sad for you. You’re sad. And small. I piss and moan all day long about how stupid and oblivious people are. Of course I’ve drawn conclusions when I come across these oblivious people. Driving down the road and a person driving in the fast lane refuses to move over forcing me to pass them on the right. And of course I look over as I pass to confirm my suspicions. Immaculate gold late 90’s Lexus with a Kleenex box in the back window…hmm I wonder what race this person is going to be? Am I shocked? Rarely. Do I then conclude that this is part of some sort of systematic oppression conspiracy designed to slow me down? No. Honestly, I’m glad I don’t have that crutch. My problems are my own. I go to a very large very liberal college and I swear to god I’m am falling over myself to get out of the way for people. The only people who actually make an effort to also make space for me as I make space for them are other white men. Everyone else walks around with a chip on their shoulder like I owe them something.
    Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me your anecdotal experience is more valid than mine. Try to tell me you only see white people doing this. Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies. I’m sorry I’m not sorry. Honestly if you came across me you’d probably really like me. I try really hard to treat everyone with respect even on my worst days, no matter what I have going on in my life. That is, until they give me a reason not to. I don’t put up with that. I’ve been through too much to be sorry for nothing or to put up with disrespect. So if you come at me with that, that’s what you’ll get back.
    So if a white man is standing in your way, why not ask him to move? I’d happily jump out of your way. Is that just me? I doubt it. Not because you’re a people of color or because I’m a not people of color. But because you’re a people and that’s what a respecful people do for other people. Or don’t. I’ve been there. Sometimes I’d rather just piss and moan than actually do something about it. But that’s on me.

    • Thank you for reading, Tim. Try taking yourself out of the center and not making this overall issue about you personally. I always ask people to do that when they respond like you have because I sense even from your opening sentence, you have made this about you and are somewhat defensive. To say if I came across you I would really like you. Who said I wouldn’t? But this blog isn’t about liking people, is it? But you’ve mentioned that, for what reason? You’ve also mentioned disrespect. No one mentioned being disrespectful but you. So if you read back through what you have said perhaps you can see how you made this about you personally and not the overall message.

      The blog is here, so is the Twitter thread and a host of comments. Maybe try reading again and this time not make it about you personally. It is easy to say, “Well I am not that way,” and close the door off to anything else. Challenge yourself not to do that. Be well!

      • And my point is you’ve repeatedly nullified experiences when they don’t fit your narrative by saying some version of what you just said to me. I see this stuff all the time. A broad generalization is made about white people, here it’s about space and individual whites stand up and say “whoa, those are generalizations and I’ve experienced that too” to which the response is exactly what you’ve said repeatedly. “No white people, you haven’t. It’s different. You need to listen. You need to hear the totality of the experiences.” Do I need to listen to you? You clearly don’t feel like you need to listen to the people you don’t want to listen to.
        You made it about me. You said “white people.” You didn’t say rude people or inconsiderate people. You said white. I am white. Therefore, I am the problem. You don’t just get to throw around generalizations and then act surprised when the people from that group sound off.
        I mentioned disrespect because what you’re saying is disrespectful, maybe worse. You don’t know me but you’ve made an assumption about my character. You did that when you said white people. Is this unclear? Do you not get that your use of those kinds of generalizations is not only wrong but potentially dangerous? X people are greedy, X people run the banks, X people are the reasons for all of our problems…Do you see where that kind of thinking leads?
        I’m told constantly to shut up and listen. Have you done that? Have you taken the time to truly hear how your words make people feel? How this constant drum beat of negative narratives make people feel?

      • Take what you want from the blog, Tim. If it’s nothing, it’s nothing. Have a good day.

      • And the “ironic” thing is that you and the author are doing precisely what I was just talking about.
        Essentially what I’ve done is stepped into an echo chamber and began shouting in the opposite direction. Sorry I’m not goose stepping along like a good little soldier. That’s part of the actual problem with our world today.

      • Yeah I think I’ve gotten the general lay of the land here, hannahdrake628. There are problems in the world, those are caused by white people, obviously. I wonder what the final solution will be?

      • Please know Tim, I do not write expecting everyone to agree with me. In fact I write knowing a vast majority won’t. I didn’t start writing to gain the approval of men, make friends or to make people feel good. You have stated your comments and I stated mine. There really is nothing else left to say. Whatever you feel will be the final solution in making this world be all that it can be, go do that. If everyone does their part perhaps this world will change. Outside of that, I don’t have anything else to say to you and I have read what you said and unless you have something else to say to me, we can agree to disagree and keep it moving. Your opinion is yours, my opinion is mine and the world keeps turning.

    • Tim you have come into her space and made this all about you. As part of the challenge we are standing our ground and you need to LEAVE!

  9. Oh my goodness! This article gave me so much life! I was mentally screaming, “Yes!!” as I read these situations I identified with. I remembered coming to my own realization that I was cedeing my space and my commitment to not let that happen any more. Thank you. Thank you so much for putting this out there!

  10. This is a good article but from one point of view. The issue isn’t White people and them expecting POC to move – it’s entitled individuals. The author might have experienced it from white individuals more frequently – but that doesn’t mean every white individual feels or acts in that way. There are entitled individuals every where, it was the way they were raised. Yes stand your ground yet be aware, if there is a pregnant women, an elder or someone requires you to move from your seat/out of the way on the sidewalk no matter what colour. Then move. However if there is a group of 5 people walking down the street taking up the side walk, then no don’t move. There is unspoken etiquette, if the individuals don’t understand then let them know. No one learns unless being told or shown. By using your voice in situations such as these goes a long way, you make the individual uncomfortable or aware of what they are doing. They might not even know that are doing it, and could apologize for making you feel uncomfortable. If they’re doing it on purpose then yes stand your ground no matter who you are.

    • Thank you, Lindsey for reading. I find it a sense of entitlement to tell myself and others who have shared their stories, what the issue is because it erases everything we have said and shared. Can you see that?

      Also, I think most people understand when they should move because I already mentioned that in the blog so there was no need to reiterate it and make it about that. I was very clear that wasn’t the topic. I think most people know that and understand about moving to accommodate others out of courtesy often extended for some of those reasons. I left it open because it could be any reason and I didn’t want to just name a few. This blog isn’t about that. And making it about that takes the easy way out. If you read some of the comments you can see it is much bigger than that.

      • Yeah shut up Lindsey! You’re screwing up the narrative, Lindsey! Go through and reread the comments but be sure to ignore the ones that sound like yours.

      • Tim, you can be in this space or not. No one is forcing you to be here. But it appears you want to be in this space and try to fan some imaginary fire. Please stop. You can add to the conversation but not in a way that is combative. You do not need to follow behind me on MY blog to respond to my comments in an attempt to make trouble. I am fine with people disagreeing but what you are doing is trying to be combative for some personal reasons that have nothing to do with me or anyone on this blog. Perhaps step back from the computer and think through that. What you are doing doesn’t help or move the conversation forward.

      • All I am doing is point out that that it isn’t just white individuals who do this. Everyone does this, every race. I’m not discrediting your experiences, your voice or your opinion. Everyone is allowed to form their own opinion based on their experiences. What I am saying, is that it isn’t just white individuals. Actually if you stand to the side and watch there are a lot of individuals who don’t move when they should. It’s not as common as you think, common sense isn’t as common as you would think. It’s about being aware of others, this doesn’t have to do with race it has everything to do with how one is raised. The topic and narrative you are suggesting is that POC shouldn’t move for white individuals who are entitled and expect them to move. Being rude, unaware and entitled are not traits you are born with you learn those from individuals around you. Sharing stories and experiences will help bring light onto situations that need to be addressed. But they also need to include all narratives that pertain to this issue – not just one.

      • Perhaps so and perhaps you can write that narrative if you write and I will be sure to share it. This is the narrative that I chose to share from my perspective and lived experience. I am glad that so many people have read it and also shared their stories about this happening to them. Thanks for reading!

  11. Hannah, I am working this challenge every day in all public spaces I’m in. I’m sitting down to write a blog about it. I’ll share it here in a bit. It’s about awareness.

  12. Actually Hannah, you’re fanning the imaginary fire. Furthermore, you refused to respond to my completely valid criticisms so I’m forced to highlight examples of you doing exactly what I said you were doing. I’m not angry or combative at all. I deal with this crap all the time. I’m actually quite accustomed to it. You don’t get to dictate my speech, though I’m sure you’d like that.

    • Tim, I will no longer be replying to you. You said what you said, I said what I said. There is honestly nothing left for us to say to each other. Have a good day.

  13. Thank you Hannah. I don’t expect that you’ll change, but I expect that people will read this exchange and those are the people that I’m talking to. Or you’ll just delete my comments.

    • Tim, I’m a white male, too. And I’d gladly knock you right off the sidewalk to prove you right. You’re acting like an ass. I believe you have your experiences. And I believe the author has hers. Why don’t you go create your own website for bitter, entitled white males so you can rant there instead of polluting this site? Your aggression is toxic to this and so many other conversations in this world.

  14. I work in corporate America and every day people are walking all around our huge building to get to and from meetings…etc. I noticed in myself that even when I was walking somewhere completely alone and a group of white men walking the opposite way coming toward me that I would always step all the way in the corner for them to pass they wouldn’t even acknowledge me going all the way to one side of the hall with a simple smile or head nod of thanks. One day there was a group of white men walking toward me, again me alone…i hurried to get to one side of the hall and even stopped because they were walking side by side not appearing to have half of them just briefly step behind someone in their group; the man on the far end (me stopped waiting for them to pass now) bumped right into me! He didn’t even turn around to apologize they all just kept talking like I wasn’t even there. From that day on everytime I see a group of them walking together I just keep walking sometimes right in the middle of them and they look so surprised but I don’t care I’m not making myself little anymore!

    • Good for you! And that look of surprise is because they have an expectation you will just move. Why can’t they adjust they way they are walking to allow you to pass them? I love that you said you are not making yourself little anymore! AMEN!

  15. Thank you for writing this piece. I love and appreciate the discussions I’ve seen across various social media about a topic as important as this one. As a woman of color (Mexican-American), I can relate. I agree with your point about this carrying into digital space. I myself have found myself, in recent years, with the desire to post/share images, websites, petitions, etc. on topics that are important to me but then second-guessing it because I know that I would offend various White people from my hometown who I am Facebook friends with. So, I don’t post. I just recently realized that I was accommodating MY digital space for THEM. And it brings me tears to my eyes that I feel the need to please THEM instead of speaking out about what matters– rights for immigrants, women, people of color. Until recently, I started to say FUCK THIS. I now post what I want. But they continuously feel the need to comment on every single post they disagree with, entering MY DIGITAL SPACE to prove me wrong as they defend their racist, homophobic, inhumane beliefs. I never made the connections until this summer. And it makes me wonder how many times I PHYSICALLY accommodated a White person.

    • Soooooo true, Selenni! I feel you! Especially online!! You have the right to post what YOU want to on YOUR page. And this is what I tell everyone, look, I do not care that you disagree with me, but what you are not going to do is come in my space causing me stress and confusion. For instance, some guy came on this blog and called me the N-word. Well it was marked as spam. Where in his mind did he believe he was going to come in my space and call me the n-word on MY blog? But he felt well within his right not knowing his comment would be marked as spam and not posted anyways. I totally agree with you about not posting things because you don’t want to offend people. And it’s like, are they doing that for you? Probably not. Your space is your space, even online and you can decide what you want to deal with online. I live for the mute button! Because I am not going to waste my time having all that confusion and drama on my feed. Even in this blog with those screen shots from Liberty Warrior, I had already muted her for but TWO WHOLE DAYS she kept it going until finally Tatianna had to ask people to block her. She just could not get it. She was determined to be in that space and cause confusion. Reclaim your space both virtually and in real life. You owe it to yourself!

    • Selenni I have found myself in the same situation in my digital space. I was always careful about what I posted on my social media accounts, for the hopes of not offending them.
      I recently had the ‘fuck that’ attitude as well. I am sick of my so-called non-POC friends remaining silent to issues that effect POC. They like, agree, and laugh at basic posts that are funny or show photos c
      from my life, but when it comes to my posts about Black
      Lives Matter, police violence against blacks, racial tensions in the U.S., immigration reform and anti-LBGT issues, they VERY LOUDLY remain silent.
      This is my space for my opinions. I freely state to unfriend me if they disagree with my opinions.
      I WILL NOT BE SILENCED IN MY OPINIONS JUST TO KEEP OFFENDING SOMEONE ELSE’S GUILT.

  16. As a woman of color, I cannot tell you how much I can related to this post. Thank you for putting into words what I have struggled to articulate. At 5’2 and 115 lbs, I take up very little space as is. Yet I find myself making my body as small as possible in public spaces. For example, on the subway, while White men manspread next to me, I make an effort to make my body smaller. I let people lean or press their entire bodies onto the bar while I struggle to find something to hold on to. I’ve reached my tipping point, The other day I was walking on the sidewalk and I came upon a group of White people talking to each other and taking up the entire sidewalk. No one moved as my husband and I approached so I had to step off the sidewalk onto the grass. As I did that, I loudly said, “Yep, feel free to take up the whole sidewalk.” One of the men heard me, and as I walked away, he yelled “Sorry for taking up the sidewalk!” to which i did not respond and kept walking away. Next time I am going to be less passive aggressive, and not move aside and am just going to saying, “Step aside, please. There are other people in occupying this space.”

    • Good for you, Ellen!! Walk in your authority! You have every right to be on the sidewalk. Hold your space!

  17. Ironically, Dr Umar Johnson said that when he was in Durban, South Africa it was the Indian people there who acted the same way. But as usual, we are obcesed with Whites and pretend that we do not know that ALL non Black people treat as like Whites do or worse–especially in their countries of origin.

    • I suppose when people comment they can comment on their point of view and who they feel do this to them. It is from their perspective. Thanks for reading!

  18. ok you folks, here goes nothing or something i donno which i do believe in the goodness of people and i betcha a nickle 75% and maybe more of the people who bump into us are unaware, not mean not lookin for ha ha i’m better then you get the heck off the planet. i reckon tho if one feels bumped deliberately, then one Is, it’s the feeling that counts. if one has been conditioned to get off the planet that is the reaction when bumped. if one is considered to be nice and thoughtful and thinking then that is their truth sure sometimes bumping is deliberate whether one color or another. so sad i mean SAD. when i hear of this sort of disrespect my insides weep much worse than tears down my cheeks.sarax

    • It is a privilege to be allowed to remain oblivious. It means that you don’t feel any obligation to be aware of others and how you affect them. You expect that if you do happen to inconvenience someone else, they will forgive you.

      Not everybody can assume that they have those rights.

  19. Dostoevsky wrote about this kind of crap over a hundred years ago in Notes from Underground. People being jerks in public spaces isn’t something new. And just like the narrator of that story, it’s solipsistic to think these slights have some social significance. I encourage you to read it, seriously, it’s a funny and profound work.

  20. Wait this is a “challenge”?!?! I do this DAILY 💁🏽‍♀️. With the shoulder bump and all of they don’t move for ME. Why am I sliding over for u???? I divide the sidewalk/hallway/walkway in half and walk on the right side like civilized ppl. If u are on my side… u better scoot! Unless u r an elderly person I’m not moving 😐. Excuse YOU. Tell me I’m wrong

    • I love it, Brelyn!! I am glad that you do it but yes it is a challenge because so many of us do not do it. One thing I really hope this blog has done at the very least is make people think about it so the next time they are out they will pause and remember they can hold their space and for White people I hope they pause and think, “Why am I cutting this person? Why do I want them to move and not me?” Keep holding your space!

    • I am so with you on this! I became aware of this “phenomenon” a while ago, and have become resolute in staying in my space. I’m pretty sure I did this anyway before I became aware, but I appreciate this being brought to light for EVERYONE to be aware.

  21. I’ve been aware of this issue for a long while now and always try to be cognizant of it, but a few months ago, I was barreling through a store door in a hurry, not paying attention to anything but the rush that I was in, and then realized that the person coming in the door had taken a step back and was holding the door for me, which brought me back to paying attention, because I realized I had been inadvertently rude. When I saw it was a Black woman holding the door, I was all the more mortified, and said, “I’m so sorry – excuse me! That was rude of me!” and then I thanked her for holding the door open. She smiled then and told me it was OK and that I was welcome. But I wondered as I walked away whether I had been yet one more moment in her day when she had to deal with this kind of nonsense. So, I accept the challenge you issued to White people. I know I can do better. I appreciate the reminder.

    • Thank you for reading, Nancy and for accepting the challenge. If she is anything like me I am sure she appreciated that you came back and said thank you. It’s the little things done consistently that can change the world. I have gotten a few hate emails because of this blog. How can there be hate by telling people to hold their space? Someone even called me the n word all because of this blog. Why are they mad? No one is saying, “You must bow down to all Black people and People of Color.” But what I am saying is be mindful, be respectful, be patient. Do not have an expectation that Black People or People of Color need to move for you. Please feel free to come back and share with us how the challenge goes!

  22. So I was in Kroger Sunday. A white employee comes up behind me and my children and says loudly “Ok folks, I need to get by.” 😒 I responded with “‘Excuse me’ will so just fine”. He said nothing and by this time my daughter had already moved the cart. I had to tell her not to do that again and wait for someone to say ‘excuse me before moving. This happens way too much.

    • Yep! And I love that you are teaching your daughter to hold her space. All they had to say was, “Excuse me.” I truly believe many of us have taught our children to give up their space and we need to “unteach” them that. It is okay for our children to own their space. Good job!

  23. I’m not in any way disregarding the experience of POCs with this comment, but do you sometimes feel like it might be more about men v. women than it is about race? I definitely see that there is a correlation with both, I’m just curious your thoughts on the gendered aspect of occupying space without race in the mix.

    • As a white woman, I understand what you’re saying here. Anyone who is not a cisgendered heterosexual white male has probably experienced being completely disregarded in public by someone in the aforementioned subgroup. My husband and I just pointed out this phenomenon in our experience in the downtown/touristy area of our major city yesterday, I’ve also worked on taking up my space as a woman around white men which included saying an “Excuse me” warning to a white man and then bumping into him as he stood in the middle of a walkway. He mentioned in our discussion of this phenomenon that as a teenage white-passing male (he is 1/4 Chinese), he and his friends would actually play this as a game. Play chicken with everyone you pass. While in many cases this might be subconscious behavior, there are people out there who are conscious of it and getting a kick out of it…. this blew my mind. (Follow up, he is now a self-identified feminist who does the work of examining his privilege and speaking out against all types of oppression or we wouldn’t be married!)

      Have you heard of the concept of intersectionality?
      https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/intersectionality-meaning
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-nmxnmt_XU

      When Hannah says that, as a WOC, she deals with this on a regular basis, I believe her. I hesitate to speak on her behalf, but I would GUESS that this experience shows up most often with white men, then followed by white women, then a spectrum of other inter and intra-racial interactions.

    • As others have said not solely because women do this as well. I am not sure if you have seen the video of #SidewalkSusie that came out this weekend of the White woman sitting down on the sidewalk to harass a woman and her biracial daughter. While I will agree gender does play a role I think Black women get it doubly as bad. (If that makes sense.) So we are disregarded because of our race and our gender. However, if we were to just look at gender, personally, White women do this a lot to me. When I was in the grocery store this weekend, it was a White woman that huffed and puffed behind me and hit me with her bag when she went by and a White man who was behind her said, “Can I get by?” I was right next to the products. I wasn’t taking up the aisle but more people were in the aisle so you would have to say excuse me. I could hear her huffing and puffing but I didn’t move. All she had to say was excuse me. Why was that so difficult for her?

  24. No because this behavior is pretty common with some white women as well. In this particular case it just so happened to be a man. 🤷🏽‍♀️

  25. I guess I’m a middle aged white Canadian male (36) and I do try my best to be courteous to all. I shave my head for multiple reasons every year or so and get self conscious that people may see me as a skin head, even though I don’t go to the skin. I have a Latin wife and often join in on making fun of white people lol. I don’t ever expect people to give up their spot, or wait until I’m ready to move to get around me. I’m vocal and if I want by I’ll ask. I expect everyone else to do the same. If I’m in your way, tell me, I’ll find a way to move out of your way if I can. Don’t except mediocrity, ask others to get out of your way, if they don’t they’re a shitty person or they better have a really good reason.

    • Thanks for reading, Brendan. I would agree for the most part if people just ask it isn’t a big deal. It is the expectation that Black people or People of Color SHOULD move that is the problem. If anyone has said, “Excuse me,” or “Can I get by?” of course it’s no big deal but don’t walk over me as if I am not there. Don’t cut me when you see I am clearly in front of you. The list goes on and on. If people could do away with this expectation that often is based on race we would all be much better off.

  26. I’m a white woman who grew up in Detroit with people of all races in the 60s and 70s. I had a rich childhood because of that. My parents were from the south but there was never anything but acceptance in our home, for any race, religion, or sexual preference. In 2018 i still witness people of color, with no hesitation, give up up their space or their turn in line. We don’t notice because we’re so comfortable with it. And now the divided country we live in is bringing the separation back! I’m sick of the us and them mentality, on all levels.

    • Thank you for reading, Nina. I will agree and even with Black and People of Color, it happens so much and is so ingrained we do not even notice we are doing it and if you are on the receiving end of people moving for you, you do not even notice it happens. It’s the norm, it’s what is expected and when it doesn’t happen then it becomes a problem. I have always believed that MAGA slogan was to a nod to those times. And people expect that to be the norm now. Not a chance. I believe enough people are walking in their authority! And the beauty of it is, we don’t have to walk against one another, a simple excuse me or may I pass, will do the trick!

  27. Elitist white men,CEOs, executives, management have this I am in a hurry attitude all the time. One day I did an experiment. I walked into Star Bucks in Chicago, the place wasn’t crowded. Plenty of places to sit. Saw this well dressed white man, possibly in his 40’s ,looking immersed in his thoughts. He had a loung section all to himself. I wondered what his reaction would be if I set in the seat directly across from him. I did, picked up a book and pretended to read. In less than two minutes. he got up and left. I dont think I enteref his space, it was an open lounge. Anyone could sit there.

    • Interesting experiment. I wonder how he felt? It reminded me of the guy that stood in front of me to eat. Only that time I was NOT leaving! Nope. Normally I would have but after seeing that Black woman on the rolling walkway I had made my mind up. Nope. I wish I could ask him how he felt and why he moved in an open lounge? This entire blog and the comments have made me want to go deeper with this topic because it seems so many people have stories to share about space, feeling left out of space, owning their space.

  28. As a white woman, when I had my baby, I used to struggle with the pram in the tube. People always helped me. It made me look out for women in the same situation later. And I was horrified to realise that all the people that had helped me were black/POC. And I would see black women struggling with kids/prams and white people flowing right round them. I always help now. But I realize that before my kids I was probably one of those white people flowing on by. I am conscious now – but probably still do it when I am not paying attention. Keep blogging, you have reminded me at least that it’s not just prams I need to look out for.

    • This is “Hannah-ology,” but I believe for many people that have been excluded from spaces, who could have used a hand to hold a door or help with a pram, they understand it because they have been there before and they do not want to see others have to struggle. So what you said does not surprise me one bit. We try to do what we would like others to do for us and oftentimes that never happens. I am glad that you are reminded it is not just prams but all things we should look out for. Once you see it, you cannot “unsee” it. And your heart is in the right place to notice it and then do something about it.

  29. I’m getting a parallel universe vibe after reading this article and the comments. I noticed that I have become more conscious lately of white people, especially white women, not having the common knowledge of realizing when they need to move in public spaces.

    As a brown Muslim woman in hijab, several times this thought occurred to me when I found myself having to physically get around a white woman whether while walking or sitting, despite giving them time to realize they are in my way. The most recent example was of a white woman who sat next to me in class. I wanted to get up during the break, and she was sitting at the edge. Instead of acknowledging and getting the hint that I was standing right in front of her and she had only to slightly move her chair to allow me to pass, I found myself bending my body awkwardly to squeeze past the tight space and get by. I was taken aback by the sheer lack of self awareness this woman had. On my way back to my seat after break, I made a conscious decision not to do the same thing, and asked if she can move her chair a bit to let me pass her. She did, but it made me sad and annoyed that I had to even ask that of her. I find myself having to ask *only* white people for this basic courtesy; everyone else just gets it. I had come to this realization that white people really dont seem to be aware of just how much space they are taking up in this world wherever they go, whether here or abroad as tourists or better yet, “expats.”

    I used to always give them the benefit of the doubt, that they really are just oblivious of what they were doing, and naive about how selfish and entitled they came across as. I have observed this behavior happening to others as well. Just today, my white colleague walked in late to a packed meeting in which no seat was left. Our Latina pregnant supervisor who is weeks away from giving birth immediately got up to find her a seat from the next room. Instead of being mindful and having the courtesy to find herself her own seat, she passively allowed her to find and carry a seat into the room for her, without a flinch. This lack of courtesy for the other that white people have just kills me inside! I wish I can call it out every time I see or experience it.

    I am so grateful that this piece exists and truly enjoyed reading it and all the stories others have shared. At least we are all in this together. I acknowledge that for black people, particularly black women, this experience is markedly much worse and more frequent than mine.

    I have begun incorporating the experiment in my daily commute thus far and am eager to see what I find in my own encounters and what I observe of white people’s movement with people of color. Thank you for starting the conversation!

  30. I do this ‘challenge’ on a daily basis. I instill this in my year old son as well.
    I would like to bring up another way that white people try to infringe on my space, which infuriates me. I doubt that they are aware, but then again, maybe they know exacting what they are doing.

    While in line at the grocery store, or any line for that matter, they refuse to stand behind me, and instead, stand to the side of me, almost cutting in front of me. I ALWAYS address to them that the line continues behind me, sometimes verbally, sometimes by physically adjusting my position and giving eye contact. It seems to really bother them to have to stand behind me.

    I just have a problem with people invading my space, especially when they feel entitled to have me move for them.

    Not gonna do it!

  31. I think sharing space with others is a HUMANITY thing, and that you’re making it into a race thing, and actually you sound pretty rude. I’m Hispanic. And gonna flip this back to you… I’m not gonna move for any black person.Now.
    STOP WHINING.

    • Rude is invalidating someone’s experience. You said you were Hispanic and that’s who you will be until you die. Nothing can change that, not even attempting to be the next white male on this blog who is a rude troll. It’s pathetic.

  32. I’m getting a parallel universe vibe after reading this article and each comment. I noticed that I have become more conscious lately of white people, especially white women, not having the common knowledge of realizing when they need to move in public spaces.

    As a brown Muslim woman in hijab, several times this thought occurred to me when I found myself having to physically get around a white woman whether while walking or sitting, despite giving them time to realize they are in my way. The most recent example was of a white woman who sat next to me in class. I wanted to get up during the break, and she was sitting at the edge. Instead of acknowledging and getting the hint that I was standing right in front of her and she had only to slightly move her chair to allow me to pass, I found myself bending my body awkwardly to squeeze past the tight space and get by. I was taken aback by the sheer lack of self awareness this woman had. On my way back to my seat after break, I made a conscious decision not to do the same thing, and asked if she can move her chair a bit to let me pass her. She did, but it made me sad and annoyed that I had to even ask that of her. Whenever I have to ask for this common courtesy, I find that its white people that need to be asked. I had come to this realization that white people really don’t seem to be aware of just how much space they are taking up in this world wherever they go, whether here or abroad as tourists or better yet, “expats.”

    I used to always give them the benefit of the doubt, that they really are just oblivious of what they were doing, and naive about how selfish and entitled they came across as. I’ve observed this behavior happening to others as well. Just today, my white colleague walked in late to a packed meeting in which no seat was left. Our Latina pregnant supervisor who is weeks away from giving birth immediately got up to find her a seat from the next room. Instead of being mindful and having the courtesy to find herself her own seat, she passively allowed her to find and carry a seat into the room for her, without a flinch. This lack of courtesy for the other that white people have just kills me inside! I wish I can call it out every time I see or experience it.

    If I’m commuting on the train with my husband, he will often tell me, “stand your ground,” whenever I begin to shift to accommodate others. I realize now how much more that actually means and to put it into practice.

    I’m so grateful that this piece exists and truly enjoyed reading it and all the stories others have shared. At least we are all in this together. I acknowledge that for black people, particularly black women, this experience is markedly much worse and more frequent than mine.

    I have begun incorporating the experiment in my daily commute thus far and am eager to see what I find in my own encounters and what I observe of white people’s movement with people of color. Thank you for starting the conversation!

  33. I enjoyed reading your post. In my twenties, I began noticing how POC seemed to move out of the way for WP. It bothered me–especially when I realized I had the same habit. The habit–the action never felt like it came from a sense of inferiority or WP demanding their way. However, as I began noticing these interactions around me, I felt that acting oblivious in situations was not something POC seemed to be able to do without someone calling them rude. (These comments come from POC about POC, too.) However, WP seemed to “get away with it” more.

    I grew up in the South in an area where POC were truly minorities. When I started to “hold my space.” I felt like a major b1tch doing this because it’s just in my nature to move aside for everyone. Then I moved to another area where POC are at least if not more than half the urban population. I noticed that many POC here hold their space. However, the more I stood my ground–held my own space, the less I realized I was doing it. At some point, I realized that “holding my space” wasn’t as important to me as being polite and kind. I feel that it is polite to move aside, and it’s kind to extend grace to folk who are being unconscious, awfully inconsiderate or just plain awful. I have spent a good amount of time being all of the above, so I guess that’s why it’s easier for me.

    The reason why any WP or POC does what he or she does is only known (and often not really known) by that person. It’s quite enough energy expended throughout the day determining why I do what I do and deciding how to treat people (and myself); I can’t get caught up in another person’s issues. I am the only WOC in my department. There’s only one other black person and one white woman.) I also work with younger (some much younger) white people in higher positions than I am. A few weeks ago, a newly appointed young white guy came into my office with someone and attempted to show them that I was somehow inferior. In my twenties, I would have hurt his feelings and justified it by saying that I was helping him make sure that he didn’t get his feelings hurt again by me or someone else in the future. Now I just recognized what he was saying and understood that he had an issue of some kind. HE has an issue. I’m cool. I’m also helpful and important in my department. He’ll have to come to me for something. I figure these are my opportunities to be kind just like the people who were kind and patient to me when I was growing up and as my mom says, “smelling myself.” I don’t have to get on his case or be overly irritated by his white privilege (especially since I understand that I also have privilege in many ways) that allows some of his behaviors to be simply “annoying” by other staff members, rather than something that is directly addressed by his superiors. I know it exists –probably always will and I choose to be polite and kind, move aside. But BA-A-By! I always tap on shoulders and say excuse me when I need to get by–anybody. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat!

  34. Oh my goodness, people. People! There are data to back up this post. This is a personal experience AND ALSO an example of documented systematic racism. Folks noting that sometimes white people get pushed aside or sometimes POC do the pushing…you are about as convincing as those who emphatically state that it’s been a cold winter so there’s clearly no climate change. Stop. Please. You personally may be a paragon of politeness and awareness and thoughtfulness. You may NEVER have taken up space that wasn’t yours. If so, thanks for that. But this piece isn’t about you, the individual. It’s about a system that many people — even nice people! — even unwittingly! — might be acting within. The deeper I dig into understanding race in this country, the more I realize I have unknowingly perpetuated systems that do great harm. It’s not about me, except if I refuse to listen and learn. Then it’s about me…because then I’m a damn fool.

    • Thank you, Dana. To hear that is exhausting and I was clear in the blog this is not a case of someone being rude. Rudeness comes in all shades. I believe that is common sense so when people state that it is like telling me the sun is hot. Really? This is a much bigger issue. This is not just a few people saying someone didn’t move for them. In just a week this blog has been read almost 100,000 times. So many people have stated their experiences. Is EVERYONE making this up? It is a HISTORICAL FACT! This is yet another ugly piece of American History the “colorblind” people want to pretend didn’t happen and want to pretend isn’t happening today. When in fact just this week it came out a woman was harassing a couple on the sidewalk (and she was arrested) and she told the couple they were taking up too much room on the sidewalk and then told them to “Get out of Berkeley.” Would she do that if it was a White couple walking on the sidewalk? I doubt it. To see people get mad about this topic I can only put it back on them and ask them, “Why does this make you mad? Why does a Black person or a Person of Color holding their space make you upset?” If they dig deep to answer that question that just may discover some things about themselves they they may not like. Thank you for reading! ❤️

  35. This crap happened to me three times. twice I was walking home from the gym: In one incident a white man with child in tow was walking towards me side by side, I kept walking as the father would not move the child to allow me to pass as i I were supposed to walk in the street and let them by, Well my gym bag hit the little white pig and i heard him say “Daddy he didn’t move out of my way”, I stopped and said to him and his father—“what makes you think I should move out of your way?” I turned and kept walking, knowing the father was teaching his kid to be a racist and to expect Black people to Bow down to him. ANOTHER time while walking from the gym, an older white guy kept walking towards me with his head down, my bag hit him and i pushed him out of the way. He stopped and yelled: I gave you the outside towards the street. To which I replied: what makes you think I should walk in the street to let you by. He became enraged and wanted to physically confront me, I laughed at him and told him I’m not falling for your trap. The third time, I was riding my bike home and a white woman was jogging, seeing me, she put her head down and kept running towards me, I continued to pedal and just as we passed each other after I forced her to go around me, she elbowed me, I thought about circling back and popping her upside the head but knew she would have called the cops and i would have be locked up for assault so I kept going. THESE PEOPLE ARE INDEED SICK

  36. My friend and I traveled a few years ago and at the airport I was the first in line. This white lady told me that that wasn’t the line and she pointed to where she and a large group of white people where sitting against the window stating that that was the line. I stood my ground while some people left including this elderly black couple. Needless to say I won the battle. When the elderly black couple boarded the plane, they told me they were proud of me for standing my ground. I felt as though the point of the line was to stand knowing you would be uncomfortable in order to secure a good seat. Sitting down away from where the line was, was the total opposite of that concept.

  37. I just heard you on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and it made me think that this happens to me often and for some reason always at the supermarket. Just yesterday I was at the meat counter and this white couple were also trying to pick out meat, they kept reaching over me , like I wasn’t even standing there. Not once did they say excuse me or anything. So I stood there, if you don’t want to use your words,  I’m going to stand right here, whatever they wanted was clearly in front of me and instead of them saying anything they were basically trying to move me out of the way without really touching me because had they done that, as a millienial this would have been a whole different story.  I even took longer picking out my items just to see if they were ever going to open their mouths and they never did, they stood there agitated and annoyed. Eventually they left, it must’ve clicked that I was unbothered and not moving!

  38. I will say that when I am in the grocery store shopping or chatting with people, I WILL NOT MOVE. I will see White people in the aisle wanting to pass, yet…I stand right there and MAKE then say, “Excuse me!” or find a way to get around. Why should I automatically know when someone is behind me, wanting applesauce OR if I am blocking something because I am having a conversation? Two little words…..EXCUSE ME…..would alleviate so much!!! I once had an associate I was talking with say….Gin….They want to get past you! To which I said, “Well….they never said excuse me or anything. How was I to know?” She hollered, I smiled, and they put their heads down and walked off. I just refuse!!!

  39. Sis, working in a major metropolitan area I have noticed this and been conducting my own singular challenge for several years. I’ve mentioned the phenomenon to other people of color but they had never noticed it. It does my heart good to see that I’m not alone in both recognizing that this is a thing and in refusing to allow it.

  40. Just after listening to your segment this morning on The Tom Joyner Show, I noticed my white neighbor had put 3 garbage bins on the curb and taking up so much space that our bins have to block our driveway.

  41. Great post, and you’re also providing a master class in how to respond to trolls and the fundamentally clueless. I’ve noticed this phenomenon of white people expecting black people to cede public space for years. (And some of the commentators here appear to be doing it in your virtual space as well.) I applaud your call for people of color to hold their ground. Your right to exist, to take up space, and to have a voice isn’t up to white people.

  42. Hannah I absolutely loved this post, and I’m officially making it my new way of life to command my own space! It was completely eye opening to see our space as truly subject to white people, I honestly have not found a single place where this isn’t the case. From confining Blacks and other people of color to the ghettos, prisons- it’s their way of being comfortable and keeping us sidelined. I currently go to University of California, Santa Barbara, and find myself suffocated by an overwhelming white space that I must squeeze myself into. White people regard every spot of the campus as their space, but I am now committed to expanding Black spaces because we as students just like them, are worthy of commanding our own spaces and overall presence at school. Thank you!!

    • I love this! You are so right. I wrote a poem about this a called Spaces and it talks about even the architecture being designed in such a way that Black people and POC’s know this space is not designed for us. So even with a removal of Whites Only/Colored Only signage they have simply constructed the environment in such a way that enforces this. All students should feel welcomed and included in a college campus of all places. I truly hope you work on this for your campus. The Black students will appreciate and the overall student body will be better because of it. Having people feel included is highly beneficial to everyone.

  43. I’ve often experienced white people ignoring me being in checkout or customer service lines in stores. It’s as if they refuse to acknowledge I’m in line and they try to get in front. I stay put and don’t move or either speak up and let them know I was in line first. I have a right to be present in the same space as they do. You will wait your turn.

    • This happens often in the grocery store. It is very simple to acknowledge someone is in line. To continuously walk over people is ridiculous yet it happens all the time. But nope. We have a right to be in spaces like everyone else. Hold your space! ❤️

  44. Grocery store: I am looking at products and (always white women, like the 911 bbq becky) stand silently waiting for me to notice them and move for them. I don’t have eyes in the back of my head. But sometimes people do say excuse me when they walk by. Once a Latina and her son were walking on the sidewalk the whole breadth and did not share. I realized the mac culture was cancelling me as a female. I often move as it is easier but I wonder if I continue to the problem by avoiding it. I am white, but now that I am old it is oddly worse.

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