It all happened so fast. I was walking down the street with my friend when I felt a tug at my purse, and before I turned around he was off running with it. My automatic reaction was to run after him. Adrenaline kicked in fast as I raced down the street, everyone watching as we chased him, and my friend tried to yell for help or the police. Everyone just stared. After running for over a mile, I was just about to give up, when he jumped inside a house and without hesitating, I followed. I ran inside to find him tearing through my purse, my phone and wallet in his hand.
Without thinking, I pulled out a $20,000COP note and spoke calmly to him in Spanish, coaxing him to trade the money for my things. He looked at me startled, likely due to my Spanish, the fact that a gringa just chased him down and the fact that I held out easy money to him. He dropped my items, took the bill and ran right past me out the door.
I was unprepared, but the fighter in me, the girl that won’t stand to be walked over or robbed, reacted when it was mattered the most.
I inhaled deeply, feeling my pulse running wildly and drawing a sensation of confidence from the adrenaline high. I know it was stupid to run after a robber–he could have been armed and the house could have been dangerous to enter–but I’m proud of my lack of hesitation to react and here’s why.
There’s a phrase in Colombia, no dar papaya. It means don’t make your stuff or yourself susceptible to easy crime, and don’t make yourself an open target. I walked in the safe areas, I always kept my hand on my bag, and I always tried to stay alert. I hadn’t even realized I was “giving papaya” until this happened. And when it happened I was unprepared, but the fighter in me, the girl that won’t stand to be walked over or robbed, reacted when it was mattered the most. And I got my stuff back (to be honest, the pictures on my phone meant more than anything else).
A few days later, as I marched in the Bogota Women’s March, all I could think about was that this was us “taking back our papaya”. In the United States and around the world, maybe we hadn’t even noticed we were giving papaya by making our rights and our liberties and everything that matters susceptible to the politicians of the world. The right-wing world of conservative, backwards mindsets has snuck up on us and stolen our rights and liberties from under our noses.
The right-wing world of conservative, backwards mindsets has snuck up on us and stolen our rights and liberties from under our noses.
And now that we’ve realized, we won’t make that same mistake again. We are going to take back our papaya. We are going to chase after these thieves and get back everything that matters to us. It may have taken this to realize that we were giving papaya, but the most valuable part is that we have woken up as a country and as a society to the thieves of the world.
We won’t stand the abuses of our fellow humans being taken away, we won’t stand for a world of inequality. We refuse to allow anyone to take the beauty, the values and the heart of kindness away from its global citizens. And this time when we march and take action around the world, when we enter the houses of these thieves and storm their comfortable worlds surrounded by the walls of political lies, we won’t be doing any negotiating. We will take back everything that belongs to us, we will claim our justice as a united people unafraid of the consequences that may occur, because we know the value of what those thieves have stolen.