Protests over a recent spate of police killings of unarmed black men and teens has clued white people into something black people have known all along – U.S. law has essentially criminalized “living while black.”
Twitter users responded to a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the officers involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner – coming just over a week after a similar outcome in the shooting death of Michael Brown – by sharing their experiences with everyday prejudice with the hashtag #AliveWhileBlack.
Many social media users described incidents when they were stopped, questioned, and humiliated by suspicious police over the car they were driving or the neighborhood they were visiting.
My dad & I were pulled over after leaving an open house in affluent neighborhood. Questioned why we'd want to move there. #alivewhileblack— Christalyn Solomon (@Christalyn Solomon) 1417706882.0
Was held at gunpoint infront of my best friends house who is white because I took the stairs she lived on the 3rd floor #AliveWhileBlack— =^-^= (@=^-^=) 1417706879.0
We had a new luxury car & were driving in Iowa. Cop pulled us over, demanded to know what my parents did for a living. #alivewhileblack— BLACK WOMEN SAVED THE WORLD AGAIN (@BLACK WOMEN SAVED THE WORLD AGAIN) 1417706876.0
a BICYCLE cop rides up next to me and asks if I live in the area, said yes; He tailed me to my apt building to make sure. #AliveWhileBlack— +000 Chopstar Surrup (@+000 Chopstar Surrup) 1417706784.0
My dad took me casino 4 my bday. Pulled over searched the car. Off. Asked if he was real dad or my sugar daddy. #AliveWhileBlack— miss mamas (@miss mamas) 1417706713.0
#AliveWhileBlack got lost in Phoenix asked for directions but the guy asked if my Military uniform was real before he gave me directions— Tyrone Breaux Jr. (@Tyrone Breaux Jr.) 1417706562.0
Forced to lie on ground in suit & tie in front of client's house 4 suspicious behavior They weren't home yet when I arrived #AliveWhileBlack— Carlos Braxton (@Carlos Braxton) 1417708739.0
Many described their experiences with "shopping while black."
#AliveWhileBlack that time the store clerk in Crabtree & Evelyn call cops because I shopped too slowly. 29 & a postdoctoral fellow— R.A. Scientist, Ph.D. (@R.A. Scientist, Ph.D.) 1417706831.0
accused of stealing a FREE STOCKING CAP at a wig store even though I spent $70 in store & had receipt. Kicked out of mall. #alivewhileblack— Trista Daniell (@Trista Daniell) 1417706553.0
Shopping in the store w/another bag from another store. Walking out & stopped. "Hey are you going pay for that!?!" #AliveWhileBlack— PKGM (@PKGM) 1417706723.0
Was stopped by the police and was questioned about of I bought my earrings or not —_— #alivewhileblack— Frank Mitchell’s Hi-Top Fade (@Frank Mitchell’s Hi-Top Fade) 1417707886.0
Twitter users previously pointed out instances where white people received the benefit of the doubt while breaking the law or otherwise interacting with police under the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite. Black posters then shared their experiences with receiving unfair treatment based on their race.
Freshman in college, white English professor asked if I was getting help on my papers or writing them myself. #AliveWhileBlack #ICantBreathe— J. Dryer-Mbonisi (@J. Dryer-Mbonisi) 1417706824.0
I crossed the US/Mexico border with an ambiguous biracial woman and two Mexicans. I was the only one asked to show id #alivewhileblack— Big Pants Enthusiast (@Big Pants Enthusiast) 1417706824.0
Threw party in college. 3 other "white" parties across street. House raided, car searched, white parties cont. til 1-2am #alivewhileblack— Brrrrrummmskiiiii (@Brrrrrummmskiiiii) 1417706801.0
After having an enthusiastic phone job interview,show up for face to face and told "you dont sound black over the phone" #alivewhileblack— urbangenius (@urbangenius) 1417708926.0
I was held at gun point by 'fake cops' that wanted to kill my neighbor.When I called 'real cops'.My home was searched#AliveWhileBlack— Tracey (@Tracey) 1417706767.0
There was no tail light out. We were late to our own party, & the cop followed us, shut our party down for "capacity". #alivewhileblack— 🦋🍑 (@🦋🍑) 1417708861.0
When I was a teenager I left my ID at home b4 parties bc everytime the cops came they'd assume I'd supplied the booze/weed. #AliveWhileBlack— She Beautiful When She Angry (@She Beautiful When She Angry) 1417706754.0
Then there were black Twitter users who say they were stopped by police because they "fit the description."
17 y.o. stopped *walking* a blk from moms house; told me & best friend fit description of shooters..who were in a car. #alivewhileblack— Keith Reed (@Keith Reed) 1417706865.0
Sitting in my warm car outside of my apt. Cop flashes a flashlight in my face, knocks on my window. I fit the description. #Alivewhileblack— Dr. Ooh Baby & Chestnut Roasting on an Open Fire (@Dr. Ooh Baby & Chestnut Roasting on an Open Fire) 1417706581.0
Heading back to my dorm cop asks me "I'm looking for a Daquan & you kinda look like one." #AliveWhileBlack— Jarrel (@Jarrel) 1417706107.0