I Don't Want to Be Afraid

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Contributor: Kharis Lund

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I was walking home alone the other night in my tank top,
Found myself clutching my little pink pepper-spray in one hand and my key, sharp edge out, in the other.
I was afraid. I am afraid.
With pain in my heart
or head
or wherever pain is,
I realized my brothers would never be in this situation,
having to rush home looking over their shoulders.
They walk around like the world is theirs,
because, as of now, it is.

Me though?

I walk home afraid, because I’m a woman.
Because I’ve been taught that I am weak.
Because, right now, I am weak.
Weak from words that make me feel like I’m not enough.
Weak, because I’ve been taught my whole life that my body is a commodity to be taken advantage of - that it’s MY job to protect myself from that.

Thinking about all this makes me scared and sad,
but more than that, it makes me ANGRY,
because, it shouldn’t be this way.
I shouldn’t have to walk home like this and be afraid for my life,
the shadows turning into menacing figures at every step.

I should have been told that I was enough,
that I was beautiful,
that I was smart,
that I was important.
I should have been told that I was strong.
Because, I want this engrained gender discrimination to stop.
Because, I want to walk home and not have to worry about a single damn thing.
Because, I want to believe again the truth that I am strong.

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I'm a college student living in Seattle who would rather eat sushi than do almost anything else. I like good liars and good storytellers, and sometimes, I think they're the same thing.


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