I don’t have a drawing on this day, but since this is my blog, I can do whatever I want. This day marked a traumatic and violent experience. It wasn’t personal or political or any of that, but it did change me.
On this Sunday morning, I was assaulted in Oakland. I was going to a 10 AM workshop but got the email late and arrived at 10:30 AM, in a quiet neighborhood towards the hills. I parked about three houses away from where my teacher’s house (where the workshop was held), in front of a corner house with a “black lives matter” sign posted in the yard. I got out and checked to see if my brand new car (which was only three weeks old– the first new car I’ve ever had after my 23 yr old car died) was in the red zone. It was not. As I was crossing the street, a car pulled up. A young black man in his 20’s in a white sweatshirt and black pants got out of dark green older model four door sedan’s passenger seat, ran towards me, and started pulling at my Trader Joe’s bag with woodworking tools and my hippie purse made out of hemp (it was free, don’t judge). I thought, “oh no, not again!” as this was the third attempt someone has made to steal my purse (not the same one).
I held onto them, and this time I remembered to yell for help. The first time I was assaulted, all I could get out of my throat was the word, “no”. The second time it happened, the kid who was on his bike let go of it when I pulled my purse back. This time, I fell on the ground and clutched onto my things and the assailant proceeded to kick me in the head multiple times, while still trying to pull the handles of my bag and purse from me. I don’t know how many times I cried for help, but I remember looking at the sign on the yard as I was laying in the middle of the street screaming for help.
Then he stopped kicking me. I stopped yelling and the car was gone. One of the neighbors later said he called out from his room on the second story of the corner house that he was going to call the cops. And I guess that is when they left. Neighbors from two houses came outside and spoke to me, and tried to comfort me. I went to my teacher’s house to apologize for being late and to tell him that I probably couldn’t attend the workshop after all because I probably couldn’t focus. It was a woodworking workshop where only hand tools are used. I probably couldn’t use the saw or chisel very well, I said to him. He gave me some water. Then we went to speak with the neighbors. We talked about the police. The neighbors were spliton whether or not I should file. I decided against it in the end because my description was too vague and would give the police another reason to stop many innocent young black men in the area who fit the general description. and because nothing was taken, and because the Oakland Police is so wrought in scandals and problems, it would just waste my time and energy.
I finally got to the hospital with the help of a friend. I had a CT scan. There were no broken bones, and only bruising. I had nightmares after that. I replayed some portion of the incident in my mind over and over for a few weeks, and imagined myself pulling out the hammer or the chisel or my saw and every time, he’d grab my wrist and I woke up. Then I felt guilty about driving a new car. I felt I should have gotten another beater car because maybe then I wouldn’t look like I had resources that he could take. I’d freeze upon hearing running footsteps.
Some people, like my now-former therapist asked me why I didn’t just give up my stuff, that we should work on that part. I’m apparently in the minority. I do not reward bad behavior. He already violated my personal space, my own being, my safety, and tried to take away my power. The last thing I want to do is reward him with my things. I want to say to him: You want this just because you think it’s easy, because you want it so you can sell it for a few bucks? Hell no; if anyone is going to underprice anything or give it away, it’s going to be me. You can’t have it. I’m not some easy, helpless, little thing who can be forced into giving up. I am an artist who works with found objects, or some say, hoarder (in the nicest way ), so I know to hold on to shit. I’m also a masochist, so it’s going take a long time to make me notice. I am also an Asian immigrant, and we left a country that enacted over 60 laws to discriminate against us, so kicking me while I’m down? Puh-leeze. This is child’s play. You’re still not getting anything from me.
Three months later, I come to find out that I have a mild to moderate concussion, that the side of my temple is still slightly swollen. I have also come to find out that a therapist who judges is not one that I need for my trauma. Also, I discover who my supportive network really are.
As I write this, I am fine. I took a self defense class.
Moral of the story: Hemp is a strong material. Depression is real. Concussion is a thing. Sleep is vital. I am resilient.