It’s not a comprehensive list, but it’s depressing nonetheless. In my latest post for The Root, I break down the 9 basic things black people can’t do without being bothered — either in an annoying way or a deadly way depending on who is doing the do.
When I was 21, a police officer at the scene of a fire cursed me out.
It didn’t matter that I was there with a camera crew and working for a TV station in St. Louis. It didn’t matter that I was absolutely nowhere near the fire (I was standing across the street). He thought I, wearing a suit and carrying a reporter’s notepad, badge and pen, was some punk, teenage lookie loo.
The cameraman spoke up for me, explaining that I had a right to be there. The officer just yelled more and became belligerent. Realizing that I had no interest in being arrested, I agreed to go back to the news van. The cameraman, who went on to film the fire, said to me, quite succinctly, “What an a–hole.” But I knew the real crime.
I was “existing while black”!
Existing while black shouldn’t be a crime, but it sort of is. The bust-up over a black teenage girl in a bikini being thrown to the ground by a police officer in McKinney, Texas, is reflective of this. The fact that some on social media pointed out that “at least” the “police didn’t shoot anyone” as a result of the police-officer-pulls-gun-on-kids-at-pool mishap is a testament to the sad state of “existing while black.”
Below are nine things black people can’t do if they run into the wrong police officer, busybody stranger or racist sociopath on any given day.