As usual, I scanned the faces on the train car before choosing a seat. I saw him immediately and decided to sit some distance away. I set my "Barnard Alumnae" bag on the seat next to me, logo up, while tying my shoe. He stood up, walked over and sat down on the seat opposite me.
"Excuse me sister, do you know who the Black Panthers are?" I half-chuckled, not sure if he was serious.
"Yes." I spied his sunglasses with Obama's face on each lense. I couldn't see his eyes.
"If I invited you to a meeting would you come?"
Without much hesitation I responded, "Probably not." The red, black and green beads around his neck peaked from under his black hoodie.
"May I ask why not?"
"I'm not interested." His scruffy beard was obviously the least of his worries.
"You DO know what we stand for? We are not a male chauvinistic organization," he stated with staccato syllables.
"I'm just not interested. Thank you for inviting me, tho-"
"THANK you." I turned my head, focused on the black abyss of the subway tunnel as the express train roared on, and plotted my escape plan if he didn't get off at the next stop.
30 seconds passed while I sat pretending he wasn't there like all New Yorkers do when riding the train alone. The Uptown 5 came to a halt and I exhaled when he stood up.
Walking out the car door, he passed me and frankly stated, "Black Power Sister."
Today I wore my hair in my frizzy-curly-wavy style, all over my head. I can't help but wonder, did that invite him to come over and want to fight the power with me?