Waiting for a meeting at Starbucks . Golfing. Barbecuing. Checking out of an Airbnb. Napping in a common area of our dorms. Moving into our own homes.
These are just a few of the everyday activities that black people in America do not have the luxury of doing without being perceived as a criminal, recent headlines prove. We want to hear your stories of driving while black, walking while black, partying while black, etc., through our project “____ While Black.”
Stories of people calling the police on black people for just being in white spaces have increasingly dominated the news cycle and reminded us of the stereotypes and implicit bias that society projects onto black skin.
Though these stories have caught nationwide attention, they are by no means a new phenomenon. Dating back to before Jim Crow, many black people in America have had to justify our existence in places we’ve had the right to be simply because others rejected our presence.
According to a 2015 Reuters poll, only 30 percent of black Americans “trust the police to be fair and just” compared to 54 percent of all Americans. An overwhelming 69 percent of black Americans agreed that police “tend to unfairly target minorities” while only 29 percent of white people agreed. These attitudes are no surprise given that black people made up 24 percent of all police killings in 2015 despite being just 13 percent of the population.
Meanwhile, those who call the police on black people face no legal repercussions and ignore the fact that their irresponsible report can quickly turn deadly. John Crawford III, 22, and Tamir Rice, 12, are examples of this.
Getting policed for being in spaces we should be entitled to shouldn’t be a fear that black people have. But it is. And it’s a part of a larger issue rooted in racism and the policing of black bodies. Lolade Siyonbola, Darren Martin and Donisha Prendergast are recent victims to this, but so are plenty of black people across the country whose stories aren’t being told. And more than likely, if you’re black, it’s happened to you or someone you know.
HuffPost wants to make sure this conversation doesn’t stop at just a headline. We’re asking our readers to share stories of their experiences dealing with or witnessing this kind of racial injustice through “______ While Black.”
Has someone called the police on you for merely existing in a space you have every right to be in? Have cops ever used your complexion as a reason to question your presence? Do you constantly find yourself explaining why you deserve to occupy space without having to be interrogated by it? We want to hear your stories. Send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org or tell your story via voicemail at (347) 829-4590 and leave a name and number so we can reach you. You can also reach us via our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages using the hashtag #WhileBlack.
Too many of us have this shared experience of everyday racism, and this conversation shouldn’t stop with just a headline.