You are probably aware by now of that video showing a woman named Shoshana Edwards walking through the streets of New York in silence for 10 hours and the reactions to her appearance. Well, not quite 10 hours. Try about two minutes worth. In any case, these comments are characterized as “verbal street harassment”. The video ends with a solicitation to end “verbal street harassment” by giving money to an anti-street harassment organization called Hollaback!
The video has prompted a backlash because a majority of those who were shown speaking to Edwards were racial minorities and dressed in street clothes. The director of the film, Rob Bliss, regrets the “unintended racial bias.”
Some of the comments she gets are crude. The most unsettling instance in the video occurs when a man walks beside her in silence for five minutes. If a complete stranger walked beside me for five minutes I would most certainly be uneasy.
But if asking someone, “How are you this morning?” constitutes verbal street harassment then that is a world of which I want no part. If Shoshana Edwards considers a simple good morning as “verbal street harassment” then it says a lot more about her than it does about the people she encountered.
Human beings are social creatures. Some people don’t go about it the best way, but it doesn’t mean they intend to cause grievous harm to her or anyone else. It’s just their way of saying hello. The world is a cold enough place without Shoshana Edwards telling us that we’re not allowed to say good morning to her.
Well, so be it. Should I ever cross paths with Shoshana Edwards on the streets of New York she has nothing to fear from me. I will simply walk on by.