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I love coffee. Sometimes people try to switch my coffee to decaf when I’m not looking. I can always tell the difference. I also like Pringles, but only the reduced fat kind because they crunch better when you bite into them and they don’t leave grease on your fingers. I’m…

About Me
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As part of our quest to support women’s issues, Katana Photography is excited to announce our first ever Celebrating Survival contest!
Having any kind of cancer is frightening and confusing. In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Katana Photography is welcoming all survivors from all forms of cancer to participate…

Weekly Photo
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When I was looking to buy my wedding invitations (back in April), I found a lot of designers on Etsy. After narrowing it down to a couple different designs/companies, I contacted both for their pricing list. One was pretty significantly more expensive–almost $2 per invitation more. Which I think all…

Weekly Style
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When talking to people about photography, I hear one phrase over and over again: Kids and dogs are the hardest subjects to photograph.
I, personally, don’t have this problem with my clients…kids and dogs are among my favorite things to photograph. Maybe it’s because I like to have any excuse…

Weekly Puppies
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Last week, Sean and I had our morning coffee on the balcony and watched as the Enterprise shuttle was pulled down the Hudson on a tug boat. It’s on its way to the Intrepid and I can’t wait to see it up close at the museum!

Weekly Coffee

Bread Stuy

Bread Stuy

This is Bread Stuy…the only coffee shop in the part of Bed Stuy where we live. Bread Stuy…in Bed Stuy…haha. Get it? Ahhh, clever.

Anyway, it’s not the most perfect place…the coffee can sometimes taste like the sludge you see on kitchen equipment that hasn’t been cleaned in a while. And it’s usually cramped with tons of people and uncomfortable seating. But they have free wifi and a really nice outdoor patio area and some of the best red velvet cake I’ve ever had. Seriously? The cream cheese icing? It almost makes living in this awful neighborhood worth it. Almost–but not really.

On Being a Target

I live in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. For those who don’t know the New York areas well, Bed-Stuy is a primarily black neighborhood that was declared an impact zone in 2005 for having the most number of homicides in New York.

When Sean and I moved here, we didn’t think twice about the fact that it was a mostly black neighborhood. It meant nothing to us…we really didn’t even notice it until a few months after we moved in. We liked our neighbors–Miss Thelma, the (very) old woman next door who will get mad if we don’t sweep our steps often enough. And Joan, the crazy woman a couple doors down who feeds the 30 stray cats in the neighborhood. Even the teenage and pre-teen kids on our block are always very friendly and respectful. We had a game going where the boys would ask me how old I was every night when I came home from work…I would tell them I was 35 with a coy smile. They knew I was lying and would burst out in laughter, yelling:

“No you’re not, Miss Colleen!! Tell us! How old are you??”

The bottom line is, Sean and I love our block. However, every day I turn the corner onto Malcolm X Blvd to walk the six blocks to the subway, it’s a very different story. The sweet street I live on is suddenly a ghetto with people hanging outside of store fronts drinking beer out of paper bags (nothing new to see when living in New York), but in this neighborhood, the people are much louder and much more confrontational.

It began with nothing too horrible. People calling me “gorgeous” and “hey baby, do you have a boyfriend.” I always had my iPod in my ears and could pretend that I either didn’t hear them, or sometimes I would just nod and wave in return. Then, the younger kids (high school probably) started following me, walking closely behind me for a block or so. They called me “Katie,” I guess what they assumed was a typical “white girl” name. At one point I stopped, turned around and simply asked…”Oh, are you talking to me? Katie’s not my name…you must have the wrong person.” So then, they started calling me Marcia Brady (which I actually find kind of funny).

The thing I’ve noticed is that if it’s a group of guys, nothing too bad happens. Maybe some of them trying to get my attention, but that’s it. If there are girls in the group, or god forbid, a group of only girls, then it’s usually much worse.

So, things grew increasingly worse. The innocent “Marcia Brady” calling advanced to kids pulling my hair and then running away as I’m walking. People purposefully bumping into me and pushing me into the street. Usually when I’m with Sean, nothing too bad happens, but one time, kids behind us started following and yelling: “Is that your boyfriend, white girl? Do you fuck him? Do you like it from behind?” That was the first time Sean really saw first hand what I go through on a daily basis….because hearing something like that definitely did not shock me. I was used to it…but he was appalled.

Then the other night, we were coming home. It was about 9:00. We passed a group of girls sitting on their front stoop. We heard one girl say, rather quietly, “white bitch.” We ignored it, as we tend to do. Within two minutes, one of the girls was riding a bike (on the sidewalk…a huge pet peeve of mine) and blatantly ran me over with the bike. As in, she was riding straight…there was plenty of room on the sidewalk and as she came up on us, she turned the handlebars and ran directly into me–not Sean–me. I was ok…a few bruises, two broken toenails. But this is pretty much the last straw for me.

I try so hard not to generalize. I never considered myself to be racist, but I fear that having lived here for a year, I am becoming that which I hate. If I’m in this neighborhood and I see a group of black girls as I’m approaching (I specify their race because in the rare case when there is a white girl or guy in the group, nothing ever happens to me), I now cross the street. I avoid them. If I’m walking past a man dressed in baggy pants and a hoodie pulled up around his face (he can be any race), I will hug my purse tighter to my body. And I hate that I do this…but I need to protect myself first and foremost. These are actions and habits which have been conditioned in me BECAUSE of how I have been treated. I moved here with no judgments about the inhabitants of the neighborhood…and I am leaving hating almost every single person I pass.

Here in this neighborhood, it would be very hard to dispute that there is a definite correlation between race, education and poverty and the actions of the people on this street. I am a target because I am white…and I don’t deserve that.