I haven’t truly felt my physical safety threatened since maybe fourth or fifth grade. It was in the gym class locker room, although I honestly don’t remember if it was before or after class. A few of my classmates had taken a liking to picking on me, and the locker room was (in a way that’s almost cliche) a space isolated from any teachers and perfect for making trouble.
In my memory, the locker room is huge; cavernous and echoing. I have no doubt if I revisited it today, my growth would have shrunken it down in an almost comical way. And, although I don’t remember any specific incident, I remember the faces of my aggressors, and the knowledge that if I didn’t say the right thing they would beat me up.
They never did beat me up. And, looking back, I don’t know that I was ever actually in danger; whether the training of our white, middle-class upbringing would have overrode their dislike of me. But I remember feeling that fear.
As I said, I haven’t truly felt my physical safety threatened in maybe fifteen years.
But I sure have been thinking an awful lot about violence lately.