Princella Talley is a climate activist based in central Louisiana, and a public voices fellow of The OpEd Project and the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Three weeks ago, I crossed paths with a tall, slender white man who looked to be in his early 50s on a neighborhood trail. I smiled and said hello; he folded his arms and stared, looking angry, watching me without a word. I grew tense as I guided my Shih tzu closer to me, while his Doberman — not on a leash — barked and growled. We faced each other, neither of us taking a step. Then I made a snap decision: I picked up my dog, turned, and walked quickly the other way, praying his dog wasn’t chasing us. Still within earshot, I heard him finally calming his dog, saying, “It’s OK.”
Sadness washed over me as I remembered, yet again, that everyday actions like recreationally walking or running can result in heavy consequences for Black Americans.
My mind filled with questions about what I may have done wrong. Was it my blue and black braids? Black hairstyles continue to be seen as an act of rebellion against white cultural norms. Was I being... Read more