The growing list of things that black people cannot do safely

The August 2018 issue of Harper’s Magazine has a list of behaviors by black people that have resulted in them being questioned, detained, or arrested by police, usually because of calls made by white people. Many of them I was already aware of but some are new to me.

Sitting in a parked car
Sitting in a chair in a public skyway while waiting to pick up children from school
Napping on a sofa in the common room of a dormitory
Not waving at a white neighbor while staying at an Airbnb
Not giving up a table to a white diner
Not purchasing coffee in a Starbucks
Purchasing breakfast in a Burger King
Barbecuing on a charcoal grill in a public park
Listening to Notorious B.I.G. at home in the afternoon
Using a curse word at a Waffle House
Attempting to use a guest pass at an LA Fitness
Attempting to use a membership pass at an LA Fitness
Golfing at a leisurely pace
Voluntarily picking up litter on the side of the road
Campaigning for a seat on a school board
Canvassing for a candidate for the House of Representatives
Taking a photograph of a house
Purchasing Mentos at a gas station
Asking an employee for sliced cheese at a CVS
Asking a police officer about the arrest of a black person in the parking lot of a CVS

This list is just since 2014. One suspects that this list is going to grow quite a bit more.


  1. DonDueed says

    See Crip Dyke’s latest post for another entry: parking in a handicapped space. In this case, it ended very badly.

  2. Matt G says

    I’m assuming this is just a collection of cases taken from the headlines. I’m sure black Americans could lengthen this list considerably.

  3. says

    Just to be clear, it is not a “growing list of things that black people cannot do safely”. It’s a “growing list of the exposed things that black people have not been able to do safely for a long time.”

  4. says

    I read The Root regularly and it’s almost daily now. A lot of this stuff happened before, but with the rise of smart phones more and more of it is getting recorded. Combine that with the racists emboldened by the rise of Orange Yeller and we’re going to see more of this.

  5. Mano Singham says

    hypehnman @#6,

    I’ve added the link but Harpers stuff is usually behind a paywall. (I’m a subscriber.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *