21 Things You Can't Do While Black
In the United States, sometimes your skin color is evidence enough against you.
—By Lauren Williams
| Wed Feb. 12, 2014 3:00 AM GMT
second sensational, race-tinged murder trial in less than a year is
underway. Michael Dunn, a white, 47-year-old software developer, shot and killed Jordan Davis,
a 17-year-old African American, as the teen sat in an SUV with three
friends. Charged with first-degree murder, Dunn is pleading self-defense
under Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law. He contends that
he argued with the teens (over what a witness says he called their "thug music") and fired on them after he claims he saw Davis brandish a shotgun. Police found no gun at the scene, and witnesses say Davis never had one.
Like the George Zimmerman trial, during which the self-styled
neighborhood watchman successfully argued that he shot and killed
Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in self-defense, Dunn's case
has raised questions about Florida's broad self-defense law, racial
profiling, and how the two issues intersect. Would Martin and Davis be
alive if they weren't black? Would they have been afforded the benefit
of the doubt by their killers if they had been white? Their deaths
didn't happen in a vacuum. There's evidence that just being black in the
United States is often all it takes to arouse suspicion. Here are 21
examples from the last five years of some of the things black people
can't do without others thinking they're up to no good.
1. Listen to loud music at a gas station.
2. Walk home from a snack run to 7-11.
3. Wear a hoodie.
4. Drive after swimming.
5. Drive in a car with a white girl.
6. Appear in public in New York City.
7. Walk on the wrong side of the street.
8. Wait for a school bus to take you to your high school basketball game.
9. Drink iced tea in a parking lot.
10. Seek help after a car accident.
11. Inspect your own property.
12. Show up at your job.
13. Talk trash after an NFL game.
14. Throw a temper tantrum in kindergarten.
15. Buy designer accessories at Barney’s.
16. Buy designer accessories at Macy’s.
17. Be a 13-year-old boy.
18. Enter your own home.
19. Botch a science experiment.
20. Be a tourist.
21. Lay face down in handcuffs.
Lauren WilliamsStory Editor
Lauren Williams is the story editor in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. Follow her on Twitter. RSS | Twitter