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Sticks and Stones

Updated: Jun 2, 2019

Do you remember the phrase: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? Since I was a little girl, I went through life thinking that was true, so I tried not to cry when I was bullied, or when people would pick on me for being too quiet. Now, as I am in my early 20s, I realize how big of a mistake that was. Don’t get me wrong, I still cried and tried to understand why I was always the butt of the joke, but I now realize that you have to pick and fight your battles – not everything someone does or says is worth a reaction. Let me say that again -- NOT EVERYTHING SOMEONE DOES OR SAYS IS WORTH A REACTION.

Even as a junior in college, I still struggled with words. I love to write and type and just about anything that fuels the journalist in me, but talking has never been my strong suit. I’ve been called “mean” plenty of times, but I don’t think the people doing the accusing had a good reason behind it. I try not to intentionally be mean, because I know how it feels, and it is not a felling I’d like to re-live. The problem is, it’s hard for me to express how I feel without the fear of hurting someone’s feelings. I know they say “The truth hurts,” but sometimes I wish it didn’t. It always takes me back to that time I was a little girl, still trying to figure out the words to say to my perpetrators.

These days, I retreat to observing – a lot. I believe that you can learn a lot more from listening rather than speaking. But even beyond listening, knowing and being in touch with your surroundings, as well as being one in the moment, and taking it all in. Ahhh, just take it all in.

Since I’ve been a student at Southern, I’ve been doing a lot of observing and taking things in. I really like it: how different the landscape is, the culture, food, pride, demographics, especially in terms of the amount of Black people, and the overall HBCU experience. Which leads me to my next point.

The conversations and language spoken down here in the south are so dead. Chivalry? Respect? Southern Hospitality? Being a gentleman? After about a month of being here, I can’t stand to see and here some of the disrespectful things uttered and done. Being a woman, I am directly focusing on the interactions between men and women, specifically things said or done to a woman by a man.

One day, I was walking down the street, and a young man driving in his car yells “Aye! Aye, girl!” As he is obviously trying to get my attention. Now this here is “cat-calling.” which can be considered a form of harassment.

Another time, I was walking down the street and I walked past a few young men to the left of me. As I was walking past, I was on my phone. One of the men decided to say “Betta look up when you walkin'.” So my first reaction was me just being taken aback. Then I put on my muggin' face, and started to respond, but realized it wasn’t worth my time or energy. So I continued walking, and while I was walking I couldn’t help but think about what he meant by that. Initially, I disregarded it as an ignorant comment. But what gives men the audacity and right to say things like this to women? It’s downright disrespectful, and if you respect yourself, especially as a woman, it’s important that you know when it’s the right time to respond, and the right time to ignore.

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I am so proud of you! You go girl! Jackie Thomas


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