Advice · Strangers

You Witness Harassment

I’m guessing that by now you’ve heard about the murders of two men in Portland this past week. They — along with another surviving injured man — were stabbed by a white supremacist who was verbally harassing two young Black women, one of whom was wearing clothing that signaled to the terrorist that she was Muslim.

There’s a lot to be said about the white supremacist’s motivation. Is this a sign of how bold these horrible humans are now that Trump is president? Are people generally more willing to be up front about their racism? I mean, probably, sure, but that’s not what I want to focus on today.

I’m more interested in ways we can continue to help each other out when we witness harassment. These three men who stepped in did something to help others, and I’d like to focus instead on what we can do when we encounter situations where someone is abusing someone we don’t know.

There is probably a small group of people who would never have intervened in such a situation in the first place who are now going to use this as an excuse to allow public harassment to take place. They’ll make statements like “I’m not going to say anything; I could get killed.” And yes, this shows they could, but let’s be real. The chance of that happening is infinitesimally small, and I’d hate to see people use this murderous jerk to rationalize not helping out people who are being harassed.

However, I also want people to be safe. So I want to share a couple of resources. The first is a video that has six tips. Take a quick watch. (You can also read an article about it here.)

For people who aren’t fully cognizant of the issues that can accompany police intervention, number four might surprise you, but I encourage you to sit with it.

Additionally, the Hollaback movement has an online training that you can participate in – there are four dates coming up between now and the end of July (2017); they also have a brief write-up of the Five Ds: Direct, Distract, Delegate, Delay, and Document.

I hope you’ll take a moment to look through these resources so you feel prepared when you witness something. Please be safe and look out for one another.

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