I am wearing the kind of practical skirt suit every female social worker wears as she makes her rounds—gray, polyester, loose. My hair is pomaded to my skull, combed as straight as it will go. There is no color on my face, save for the purplish-gray bags under my eyes. If my binder feels extra heavy today, it’s because I’m making calls in Sandtown, a pitiful punch line in The Wire. My caseload is practically the whole zip code.
My co-worker, a new girl from the uppity part of Towson, joked that I should wear sneakers so I could run. I think back to the days when I ran drugs through these projects in my first pair of Jordans. Back when I was responsible for whatever ripped out weave was blowing across the sidewalk like a tumbleweed. My old posse would never recognize me now, with my bleached skin and nude pantyhose.
When I approach Presbury, I shiver. Did Freddie Gray’s ghost just run through me?
“Hey, white lady!” a dark-skinned boy of about 14 or 15 yells at my high yellow tail. I keep walking toward Gilmor Homes, wondering if I’ll ever be black again.
Teaching to Transgress