“She realises as she steps out the door that she had forgotten the “item of clothing” that was invaluable to her.

She knows that without it, she would be vulnerable to harm. She stops in front of a mirror, assessing herself, frowning. Her hands are clammy, and she impatiently wipes them dry on the sides of her dress. This dress is a particular favourite of hers. She spent a fortune on it, knowing that it may come in handy when she needed to go for interviews.

“Do I look good enough?” Her mind wars with her heart as she fleetingly wonders if she could “risk” it and walk around without the additional cover.

“What if I should urgently need it?”

“Could I take a chance and go without it?”

She instantly dismisses the thoughts of walking outside, travelling to her interview and being in front of people who she knew would stare and look at her while passing unkind remarks.

She impatiently chides herself about the negative thoughts she is having and moves towards the front door. Five minutes have passed- five minutes in which her mind brought to the fore all the occasions that she had left the house without it.

Should she throw caution to the wind and merely ignore the stares, the gestures, the hints that she was not as perfectly “put together” as they were? Her past experiences had shown her that it was safer for her to be cautious when stepping outside her house into the world.

Sternly reminding herself of her vulnerability, she recollects the countless times she moved about in unfamiliar spaces only to rush home, wounded, tears falling while attempting to “pull herself together” again.

Her mind made up, she shrugs on the black jacket, sad and angry that there is no place on the earth she can move about, no place to be, where no jacket was required.”

Excerpt from my book, “No Jacket Required.”

“Black and brown people have two jackets that they always have to wear when moving about in white spaces. 

The white jacket is worn when they are around white people they are familiar with but still often experience microaggressions or covert racism. The black one, when they are in unfamiliar, primarily white “territory” where they expect that any moment they could become  “victims of racism.” The mental gymnastics they go through to protect themselves from racism, whether covert or overt, is mind-numbingly stressful.”