I am a small caucasian female. I grew up in a black ghetto. When, as an adult, I lived in a particularly bad area (across the street from the projects near Fillmore in SF), my lack of fear was like shining armor everywhere I went.
I was never armed, but I was never scared. I made eye contact with everyone, I always said hello, and, frankly, alot of the BG's that many here would be uncomfortable around at the very least, were uncomfortable with me, because of my lack of fear, and some even figured I was crazy (although in retrospect many probably figured I was armed).
Because of the degree to which I took in and embraced my surroundings, I was able to establish a rapport with many of the icons of that ghetto, such that to this day I can show up, drop a name, and as long as there is no cross-fire, be perfectly safe. There were even times late at night I would hear one BG say to another, "don't mess with her, she cool." But nothing was better than the very oldest saying one to another, "...ooo, she walkin' *tall*."
Just food for thought.
Afterthought: What am I doing here? I really was so much safer back there. But as too many women will find out, the real threat is from those we let in and consider close friends and family. I'll take all the big scary bad guys the ghetto ever spit at me over the one guy I let myself consider "family" for one second too long.