It’s an idea that is long overdue: A phone line for white people to call when they see black people in public rather than 911.
The New York Times says there have been more than 40 reported instances this year of someone calling the police to report black people doing something normal, like having a barbecue, watching their kids play a soccer game or selling water on a streetcorner.
But the paper wants to do more than just report this disturbing trend; it wants to stop it in its tracks.
The Times editorial section has collaborated with actress Niecy Nash to create a satirical ad for a fictional phone line, 1-844-WYT-FEAR.
In the spoof, the “Claws” actress describes 1-844-WYT-FEAR as “a radical new product that will save all the headaches of being filmed and outed as a racist douche.”
The phone number is real, though, and people who call it will get a message reminding them that African-Americans are more likely to experience force in the American criminal justice system and endure longer sentences.
Then there are phone prompts that ask callers what the black person they are calling about is doing, such as shopping or sleeping in a dorm rec room.
“Based on your menu selection, we have determined that you are not in danger and probably just racist,” the line says.
The hotline also encourages people to tell the newspaper their stories of being unfairly harassed while doing nothing wrong.
“While this New York Times hotline is a satire, the issue is very real,” the recording says.
Here’s the complete commercial: