In the last few months, The Washington Post and other media outlets have seized on the meme of the overly zealous White person calling the police on a Black person engaged in normal activities that the caller feels is suspicious or criminal in some way.

The police have been called on…

  • Black women laughing too loudly on a train
  • Black sorority picking up litter on highway
  • Black man selling real estate
  • Black college student sleeping in common area of Yale dormitory
  • Black men waiting on a friend at Starbucks
  • Black girl selling water without a permit (#PermitPatty)
  • Black men in Oakland having a barbecue at a public park (#BarbecueBecky
  • Black child cutting grass for summer work
  • Black kid getting kicked out of friend’s community pool and pushed by angry woman
  • Black group playing too slowly on a golf course
  • And the list goes on…

As John Crist says, “I’ve got questions!” like….

  • Why is the media reporting on every day interactions like they are front page or lead story worthy? Newsflash-they aren’t. 


  • Does no one ever call the police on a suspicious person who is Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, etc? I highly doubt that there are no calls on anyone else. Why the focus on this one type of call when there are literally millions of calls to the police every day that don’t get investigated by the news?


  • Why do few of these stories ever address whether the action in question was legal or illegal or the persons in question were following the rules? Could it be that they are more focused on creating a narrative?


  • What is the end game of creating this narrative?
    • Shaming racists?
    • Reinforcing the idea that all White people are inherently racist? (White guilt)
    • Demonizing police which answer calls for service?
    • Getting individuals fired?
    • Curtailing freedom of speech?
    • Unleashing social media mob on people?
    • Creating a culture of intimidation?
    • Fostering idea that any call to police about a person of color’s activities is attempt to kill them? (see irresponsible provocateurs like Shaun King)

*In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m Black and married to a police officer. 

Closing Thoughts 

  1. Don’t break the law or violate rules.
  2. Mind your own business.
  3. Talk to people and get to know your neighbors. 
  4. Realize that the police get dispatched to calls from citizens.
  5. Let the police focus on crime and real problems. 
  6. Don’t form opinions about an entire group of people based on one bad apple.
  7. Don’t feel that you have to form an opinion about every incident.
  8. Realize that video often lacks context and can be manipulated.
  9. Understand that some people are just busybodies (i.e. they call the police frequently) and some people actually are racially motivated. 
  10. Do unto others what you would have them do unto you. 

Is #LivingWhileBlack a thing? Yes. Should it be a thing. No. Is every situation that is placed in this category actually applicable? No. What should you do? Refer to thought #10. 



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