10 Pages


He sat on the curb, wearing baggy sweats and a triple-X T-shirt. A mass of dreadlocks fell around his face and over his shoulders, framing his head like a pharaoh’s nemes. I watched him talk emphatically, waving his hands and palming his fist. His two boys stood on either side of him like brothers from the Nation of Islam flanking Minister Farrakhan. Their red, black, and yellow bandanas announced that they were Rastafarian. As I approached, Pharaoh stopped midsentence. His eyes landed on me and I became aware, agonizingly aware, of my fitted jeans, my sparkly bracelets, and my French-cuffed shirt, which was pulled corset-tight across my chest. Walking through Crown Heights-a hip-hop haven, a black thug Mecca-I stood out like a pink pumpkin, dressed as I was like some 1970s homo-pimp. Pharaoh’s eyes grimaced and something inside me shivered. My clothes, my bracelets, and the swivel of my walk took Pharaoh aback. But what most caught his attention was my dreadlocked hair.